How To Hit A New 10k PR

The 10k is a perfect distance for many runners. It’s long enough that it can pose an impressive challenge for beginners to work up to finishing their first 10k, and short enough that more experienced runners can typically fit the training into their weekly routine even with a full-time job.

Once you have finished your first 10k, you have a benchmark to guide your training and you can start training with a purpose: to chip away at your personal best time and run faster.

What Is A 10k PR?

There’s a good chance you’re aware of what a 10k is, but to cover our bases, the “k” component of the 10k distance stands for the metric distance of a kilometre, so a 10k is 10,000 meters. 

For runners in the UK who are more accustomed to miles, this converts to 6.214 miles.

For simplicity, most people shorten the 6.214 miles to 6.2 miles when they discuss 10k, but the distance of any official 10k event will be the full 10 kilometres or 6.214 miles.

Your fastest finish time for the distance is referred to as your personal record, PR, or personal best, PB, depending on where you live in the world.

For example, if you’ve run three different 10k races, and finished in 52:04, 50:51, and 49:12, your 10k PR is currently 49:12.

Running Gear

The first item on your shopping list should be a good-quality pair of running shoes. That doesn’t necessarily mean spending a huge amount of money, but it does mean spending some time working out what the right pair for you is.

  • Choose The Right Type Of Shoe

First, consider where you’re going to be running and buy shoes that will be suitable for the terrain. If most of your training is off-road, then road shoes with built-up heels are unsuitable because you will be more unstable and could turn an ankle. 

Similarly, a pair of trail-running shoes with deeply studded outsoles will be very uncomfortable on paved roads, because the studs will press into the soles of your feet.

The two main types of road running shoes are neutral and stability shoes, with the latter designed for runners who overpronate. 

If you’re not sure if you overpronate, it might be worth getting your gait analyzed.


  • Go For A Trial Run

Buying your running shoes is a big investment – so you should always test any shoes properly before buying them. 

Padding around on a carpet in the shop certainly won’t replicate how the shoes will feel when you’re running in them. 

Instead, you should “road test” them on an in-store treadmill.


  • Don’t Wear Your Shoes Out

Your running shoes will take a great deal of pounding across a wide range of surfaces and in all weather, so they will need to be replaced fairly frequently. 

Generally, you should replace a pair after 500-600 miles (800-960 km). 

Exactly how often you need to buy new shoes will depend on your weight, running style and choice of terrain, but you should always avoid trying to squeeze a few extra weeks out of shoes that are evidently worn out because the shoes won’t give you the protection you need and you’ll increase your chances of getting injured.


  • Select Smarter Socks

You should always wear the socks that you intend to run in when you go for a shoe fitting. 

The thickness of your sock can make a big difference to the fit and feel of your shoe, particularly as your feet expand in the heat. 

Runners should wear running-specific socks because they have extra padding across the ball of the foot, the toes and the heel area. 

This extra padding cuts down on impact and protects important areas that can blister. 

There’s also usually padding or a tighter area through the arch to allow the shoe to fit more closely and add better arch support.


  • Round Out Your Running Wardrobe

Once you’ve got your running shoes and socks sorted it’s time to focus on the rest of your kit. 

T-shirts and shorts are usually the staples of any running wardrobe and the key things you want your kit to be are lightweight, breathable and sweat-wicking. 

Beyond that, it’s all about the weather you’ll be facing. 

If you’re training outside through the winter then a running jacket that protects you from the wind and rain is a worthwhile purchase, and base layers and running tights can also be vital allies in your battle against the cold.

How to Hit that 10k PR


  • Develop Your Base

You need a solid endurance base to run a 10k well. Running 10K takes even the fastest runners at least 30 minutes or so, and takes most runners closer to 40-60 minutes or more.

In fact, according to Running Level, the average 10k time across all ages and sexes is 49:43. The average 10k time for male runners is 46:43, while the average 10k time for female runners is 54:13.

Therefore, to run a 10k PR, you have to be very comfortable and accustomed to running at least 6-8 miles or 45-60 minutes or more without stopping.

Distance runs like long runs and base-building runs build your cardiovascular and muscular endurance so that it’s not particularly taxing to tackle the 6.2-mile distance.


  • Use a Training Plan or Work With a Coach 

The most successful journeys tend to follow some sort of roadmap or plan. 

Working with a running coach or following a smart 10k training plan that’s both appropriate for your level of fitness and experience and geared toward achieving the 10k time goal you have in mind will help ensure you’re on the right track to reach your goals while minimizing the risk of overtraining and overuse injuries. 

The training plan should employ a gradual progression in intensity and volume so that you continue to improve without increasing the risk of injury. 


  • Go Long

A solid weekly long run is a cornerstone in most 10k running plans. As mentioned, you need a strong aerobic base to support the cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance you’ll need to run a 10k PR.

To hit a 10k PR, aim for a long run of at least 6-8 miles, potentially peaking at 10-12 once in your training cycle, depending on your experience as a runner and your fitness level.


  •  Vary Your Workouts

One of the keys to injury prevention and getting faster as a runner is varying your workouts. 

Running the same, moderate-intensity pace day after day is a less effective approach to improving your fitness than incorporating a variety of paces, distances, terrains, and intensity levels.

Include long runs, speed workouts, recovery runs, cross-training, and strength training workouts. Run different routes, distances, and on different terrains like grass, trails, road, and track. 

Varying the training stimuli is usually a more effective approach to continually yielding improvements. Your progress can plateau if you keep doing the same runs over and over again.


  • Don’t Forget Speed Workouts

Even though the 10k is a relatively long race, you can’t neglect speed workouts if you want to run faster. 

Speed workouts will improve your fitness, allowing you to run faster and longer. 

They also train your body to be more metabolically flexible so that you can use fuel more efficiently and burn fat at higher effort levels. 

Good speed workouts for the 10k include fartlek runs, longer hill repeats, and intervals like 10-12 x 800 meters, 8-10 x 1000 meters, mile repeats, 5 x 2000 meters, 3 x 2 miles, and various other ladders and pyramids run at race pace or faster.


  • Know Your Limits

You don’t have to smash every run. 

Intense interval sessions and long runs are important pillars of a training plan but too much too often will fatigue you physically and mentally. 

Include some comfortable steady-state work and recovery runs to give your mind and muscles adequate recovery.


  • Increase Your Training Volume

Gradually bumping up your training volume can be a good strategy to run faster and hit a 10k PR, but it must be done so carefully. 

If you are already running relatively high mileage or are an injury-prone runner, it’s probably ill-advised to run more mileage. Instead, you could consider increasing your overall training volume by adding low-impact cross-training activities like deep water running, cycling, rowing, swimming, and the elliptical machine.

These activities reduce the stress and strain on your bones, joints, and connective tissues while still giving you a cardiovascular workout and encouraging circulation to recover from runs.

Cross-training also subjects your muscles to different motions than the same repetitive running stride, so incorporating cross-training is a good way to correct muscle imbalances caused by running and develop yourself as a well-rounded athlete.

On the other hand, if you’ve been running 15-20 miles per week and feel healthy enough to handle more running, gradually building up to 25-35 miles per week is often ideal for performing well in the 10k. 


  •  Increase Your Lactate Threshold

One of the key tips to hit a 10k PR is to increase your lactate threshold with tempo runs and threshold intervals.

Threshold workouts are designed to increase your lactate threshold or the point at which your body is no longer able to clear lactate from the muscles as quickly as it is being produced. 

For most runners, the threshold run pace is somewhere between 10k-15k race pace, so increasing it will help you improve your 10k PR.

Threshold workouts involve any work done at threshold effort. For example, you might warm up and then run 4 x 5 minutes at a threshold pace with 2 minutes of recovery pace in between each interval. 

Tempo runs are specific threshold workouts that involve maintaining threshold effort for a sustained 20 minutes or more and are a great way to improve your 10k PR.


  • Run Long Hills

Hill sprints are great for shorter races like the mile and 5ks because they build strength, power, and speed. Hill repeats can also be helpful for 10k runners, but it’s often best to do slightly longer hills and work them at a 5k race pace. 

Hill workouts are also a good opportunity to work on your running form and prepare yourself for tackling hills during your 10k race.


  • Stay Sharp With Strides

Strides are a training staple for elite runners – they can promote good form and get your legs ready to run a fast workout or race in the coming days.

After a short easy-pace run, find a flat uninterrupted path or pavement between 80 and 100m in length. 

Run fast and smooth for the entire length. You don’t need to go ‘eyeballs out’ – aim for between 85% and 90% of your maximum effort while staying as focused and relaxed as possible.

Run six to eight reps with a slow jog or walk back to your starting position after each one, and do a stride session once or twice a fortnight.


  • Don’t Neglect Rest Days

It’s important to take at least 1 to 2 rest days per week to allow your body to heal. Running causes micro-tears in your muscles, and they need time off to repair and rebuild back stronger. 

One of the keys to running faster and nailing a 10k PR is consistency, and regularly including rest days in your training program enables you to train consistently by reducing the risk of injuries.

It’s better to voluntarily take planned rest days than have your body force your hand because you’ve overdone it in your workouts and overall training volume.


  • Strength Train 2-3 Times Per Week

Strength training 2 to 3 times per week with total-body workouts is one of the most effective things you can add to your running workouts to help you run faster and hit a 10k PR.

Strength training helps prevent injuries, correct muscle imbalances, and make your legs stronger for a more powerful running stride.


  •  Live Like an Athlete

Any time you want to hit a PR, the lowest-hanging fruit to work on—where you’ll get your biggest bang for your buck—is by adjusting your training. 

However, once you’ve optimized your training program and are doing the right workouts and hitting your goal paces, you will need to expand your efforts to lifestyle improvements that can support your overall athletic performance.

Lifestyle choices—the things you’re doing when you’re not running—can actually have a significant impact on your performance, and optimizing them can sometimes be the difference between a good race and a 10k PR.


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