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How Advanced 10K Training Works

The Components of Advanced 10K Training
Speed is one component of winning a 10k race. Another is endurance.
Speed is one component of winning a 10k race. Another is endurance.

The key to winning a 10K is the combination of speed and endurance. Therefore advanced 10K training incorporates several types of running and each is vital to a well-rounded plan:

Fartlek run -- A fartlek run is when the runner adds burst of speed during a regular run. For instance, an athlete may go out for a 5-kilometer run and simply keep a regular pace throughout. However, a fartlek run adds several short sprints to the same run. Fartlek runs help increase heart rate and build up your lung capacity.

Distance runs -- The distance of a run can vary. Typically you'll classify them as either short or long runs. In each case, these runs are slower than race pace and you should not approach your maximum heart rate at any point during the run. Short runs are typically 3 to 5 kilometers in length while long runs can range from 8 to 14 kilometers or longer. Again, it depends on the program and at what point (week) of your plan you're currently in.

Tempo runs -- These get you used to race pace. On a tempo run, the athlete targets a pace to run for a certain amount of time, then works gradually to reach it. The target pace in advanced 10K training is your race pace. For instance, during a 30-minute tempo run, you may work up to race pace over the first 10 minutes, then maintain race pace for 15 minutes before throttling back over the final five minutes of the run. Tempo runs increase your body's ability to use the extra oxygen your expanded cardiovascular system is providing. Tempo runs increase muscle stamina when your muscles get tired and want to quit.

Interval runs -- These are similar to tempo runs in that you're incorporating race pace. On an interval run, an athlete runs at race pace then slows down to a walk or a slow jog in a 1:1 distance ratio. During a 6K interval run, you would run 3 kilometers at race pace and 3 kilometers at the slow pace. The key is to go at race pace, slow down then do it over again until the run is complete.

Along with these elements are warm-up and cool-down periods. Cooling down or slowing down is critical during advanced 10K training. The same can be said of warming up. You're going to push your body to its limits. Abruptly beginning or finishing such strenuous exercise can be dangerous and may damage your muscles.

Now that we've broken down the components of advanced 10K training, let's see how to put it together in a training plan that will ramp you up to race day in the next section.