How To Run a 10k in 45 Minutes

The ability to run 10k in 45 minutes or less is one I’ve often envied.

As a long-distance runner, I’ve spent the last few years focussing on distance and stamina rather than speed.  

As a result, my shorter-distance times have been pretty slow – embarrassingly slow at times.  

I’ve been training to a marathon or ultra-marathon pace, while friends of mine who are relatively new to running have been beating me hands-down in the shorter distances.  

I was happy if I was running 10k in 55 or 60 minutes, while my friends were finishing in well under 50 minutes.

So this year I’ve decided to work on my short-distance speed – and my first target was to run a 10k in 45 minutes.   

After a few weeks of building up to it, last week I went out and did it – with 25 seconds to spare.   (Check it out on Strava).  

10km 45 minutes
My Sub 45 minute 10k

Now I’ve set the 45 minute mark as a benchmark,  I’m looking for the next challenge!

Here are my top tips for any runner aiming to beat the 45 minute mark for a 10km run:

How To Run 10k In 45 minutes

1. Interval Training to Build Speed

The key ingredient to a sub 45 minute 10km run is being able to sustain a pace of at least 4:30 min/km (or 7:14 min/mile) for 45 minutes.  

By far the best way to improve your running speed is through interval training.   Interval training works as it sounds – alternating between running fast, then slow, for fixed intervals. 

I built up my speed by running 800m intervals at the 4:30 min/km pace, then slow jogging for 400m.  

If that is too much for you, consider 800m at 4:30 min/km, and 800m of slow jogging / walking.  Gradually increase the percentage of time you’re running at.

2. Practice The Pace At 5k

In building up for your 45 minute 10km, try a half-sized version.   Run 5km in 22 minutes and 30 seconds.   (this can be a mini-goal in your build up to your 10km).  

Once you’ve achieved your 5km at the required speed, you’ll know how it feels to sustain that pace over a period of time.

If this all feels a bit too fast and too much, perhaps check out my Couch To 10k Plans!

How To Run a 10k in 45 Minutes 1

3. Choose A Favorable Route

There are certain factors to consider when planning your 10k in 45 minutes route which can affect your performance.

Think about the time of day and conditions you’ll run in.   Cooler weather definitely helps your speed.   

Wind is not desirable; a headwind or cross-wind will suck your energy and slow you down.  And while a slight tailwind gives you an advantage, will you really be able to claim you ran a 10km in under 45 minutes if there was a gusting wind at your back the whole time?

Related: Running In The Wind Guide

Same goes for hills and gradients – try to find as flat a route as possible.   While the uphills slow you down, a lot of downhills will skew your timing and make your performance seem better than reality!

Also, plan out a route that avoids any potential interruptions like traffic signals or crowds.   The last thing you want is to miss your target by a few seconds because you were held up by others!   A route out in nature is usually a good idea.   

4. Get Your Shoes Right

Don’t run in old shoes (here’s my new shoes vs. old shoes case study showing why it’s a bad idea).   Make sure you’ve got comfortable shoes which make you feel fast when running in them.  

If they feel heavy or unresponsive, you can probably find more suitable shoes.

Here’s my latest recommended shoes and buying guide.

5. Fuel Properly

Prior to your 10k in 45 minutes attempt, you can take a few steps to physically prepare yourself.   Being well-rested and well-fed the night before always helps.

In the hours prior to your attempt, it’s useful to eat energy-rich foods.   Assuming you’re into carbohydrates, this might mean a pasta dish.   I also had a coffee an hour before my 45 minute 10km, and snacked on some chocolate and guacamole 20 minutes before I went out the door.

Make sure you’re well fuelled, but don’t over-eat!   An energy gel 10 minutes before your 10k would help!

How To Run a 10k in 45 Minutes 2

6. Warm Up

Prepare your body with some very gentle running prior to starting your 10k in 45 minutes attempt.  

Run for 5 minutes or so, lightly bouncing on your feet, in order to limber up and get your body prepared for what’s coming.

7. Get Motivated

Whenever I’m going for a fast run, I load up on good, fast-tempo music to drive me through.  

Studies have proven that listening to music while exercising boosts performance, so have your playlist prepped and ready to go.

8. Get Your GPS Right

Your GPS device is a key part of your 45iminute 10k attempt.  

I recommend a GPS watch as opposed to using a mobile phone, they’re more accurate and easier to check.   Make sure it’s charged before you start, and then reference it constantly throughout your run.

Remember that your average pace has to be at least 4:30 min/km (7:14 min /mile) throughout the run – try never to fall below that number.

Here’s my GPS watch buying guide and latest recommendations.

9. Remember That It’s Temporary

As you’re pushing your body over those 10 kilometers, remind yourself that your state of discomfort is temporary.  

It will be over soon then you can relax and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that you’ve been reaching for in the past few months.  

If you can reach the 5km point in under 22:30, remind yourself that you’re past the half-way mark and you’re on course – all you have to do now is keep running.

10km 45 minutes

And once you finish, don’t forget to share your run on Strava!   

Now you’ve completed 10k in 45 mins, what’s your next goal??

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson is an ultra-runner, UESCA-certified running coach, and the founder of MarathonHandbook.com. His work has been featured in Runner's World, Livestrong.com, MapMyRun, and many other running publications. He likes running interesting races and good beer. More at his bio.

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