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Effective 10k & 5k Training

What is effective 10k and 5k training depends from from where you are starting off from. We have split this into three sections - Beginners, Intermediates and Advanced. These are stages, and what you learn in the first stage is a building block for the second and third stages. So, rush in and run fast intervals at your peril, because you won't have build a good base of endurance to make the most of that speed.

A lot of runners run 200m intervals as part of their 5k training and have an excellent kick at the end of a race. However, if you are only plodding around the first 4,800m, what is the use of that awesome kick? You are much better off being able to pace your effort over the whole distance of the race.

The 10k and 5k are both great distances to start off a fledgling running career, however they are also incredibly fun to race when you have been running for a number of years, mainly because you can do lots of them in a year.


A beginner is someone that has never run before, and more than likely has done very little exercise over the past few years. You have to patiently build a base of endurance and improve your body conditioning to begin with. Having the ability to run for 5k or 10k at a steady pace should be your first aim. When you race you want to make sure you aren't going out to fast or trying to be too ambitious. To allow yourself the chance to complete the race relatively in control and have a positive motivational experience your training needs to be based around getting you over the distance, rather than layering on any speed work. When you are starting out it is more important to complete these events and develop because of that experience, rather than going in looking to beat PB after PB.

Your training is designed so that you gradually increase the duration of the run. or the run/walks to eventually be able to manage to cover the distance of the event in one session. Once you can do this successfully, have the occasional shorter run or blocks of intervals where they you try to raise the level slightly to a steady pace. The training for a beginner needs to be as patient as possible, so you build a good foundation for your next running challenge.


A runner at this stage will have developed a good base endurance, you should have notice some change in your body condition. You are used to running at an easy pace to cover the race distances and potentially be able to run a little further. You should also be used to steady runs.

A runner at the intermediate stage really needs to develop the ability to run at threshold and to work on taking the duration of threshold intervals from 5 x 2minutes at threshold with 60 second recovery to eventually something like 5x5mins 60second recovery. This would develop your speed endurance. Some hill running will help to develop your strength and improve your running massively.. Your training at this stage will will also include some time trials of half the race distance at ideal race pace and then you will know that your preparations are going well and you are on target for a personal best.


A runner at this stage will already have good speed endurance and strength and experienced a number of races over various distances. Your training should now be looking to include some specific and realistic race pace intervals. For example a number of 1 kilometre intervals at race pace with a relatively short recovery.

The aim should be to be able to eventually run up to ¾ of the distance in intervals at your predicted race pace and feel this is in line with the effort required to achieve this.

You would also look to include some shorter and faster work to further develop leg speed and running economy. You may also consider using some low key races where you try out various race paces and tactics to gain valuable experience for your goal race.

To race a good 10k and 5k there are a number of areas that you need to consider. The first is to select a course that has a favourable route and course profile. Make sure that the weather conditions and temperature on the day are set up for a fast race. If it is freezing cold then don't expect to run as well as you would in slightly warmer conditions.

The10k and 5k races allow for a reasonable warm up, including some strides and maybe a minute at your target race pace. The more 5k and 10k's you run, the more refined your warm up will become, practice makes perfect!

Don't be late at the start and make sure you get a good position. This doesn't mean starting right up at the front and running too fast to start with, but don't get stuck behind a man in a Rhino costume if you are looking to break 40minutes!

Setting off too fast will cause you all sorts of problems on these shorter races. It can be really tempting but try and control yourself. You want to runt the first half at a controlled discomfort effort level. When you reach half way, you need to mentally ditch the first half of the race and focus on running well over the remaining half of the 5k or 10k.

Your pace needs to be an honest one for the first half of the race. You then want to be able to maintain this, or pick it up at some point. The last third of the race is when you want to race it! What we mean is that you are stopping looking at the watch and starting to focus on passing as many other runners as possible, switching off the pain barrier and running as hard as you can.

Make sure that you know the finish of the race area, so there are no surprises (such as sharp turns or slight hills!) and you know where you can really wind it up to the finish line. Stay mentally positive during these shorter races, even when you are being asked the difficult questions!

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