A 10k is a milestone distance for every runner. Sooner rather than later you want to run to be to run a faster 10k.
How you do this and approach it is completely up to you, but there are a few tips and training techniques that will show you how to run a faster 10k in 60 minutes or less.
At 6.1 miles, a 10k is quite a sizeable distance, and one that you have to put in a decent amount of training into in order to complete it in under 60 minutes.
Over the years as a runner, I’ve come to realise what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to running faster.
Gone are the days when I thought pounding the pavement for miles and miles on those long, slow runs would make me a faster runner.
Granted, it would make me faster and increase my endurance and stamina in the short term, but in the long term I wouldn’t see any improvement. I just wasn’t getting faster.
If you’ve never run a 10k before, or your best time is well over 60 minutes, then you may need extra training time to see some real improvement in your times.
I really believe everyone is capable of achieving a sub-60 minute PB – whether they do this in six weeks or sixteen weeks.
When training for a sub-60 minute 10k, it’s worth remembering that there are a number factors at play.
Ranging from fitness levels to running experience, all these things will determine how fast you run a 10k on race day.
In this blog, I’d like to explain some of the key things that will show you how to run a faster 10k in 60 minutes or less.
These are things that I have either included in my own sub-60 minute 10k training plan, or I have found worked when wanting to run faster and stronger in general.
Strength training should be part of any training plan, no matter the distance.
It makes you a stronger runner and helps prevent those common running injuries that many runners suffer from.
Any form of exercise that involves some kind of resistance, whether that be in the form of your own bodyweight or external resistance using equipment like dumbbells or kettlebells can be considered strength training.
This form of training induces muscular contraction, which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance and size of skeletal muscles.
A well-rounded training plan should include strength training to ensure you are building muscle to replace the muscle broken down through running. which is a form of cardio exercise.
Compound (think all body) movements work really well for runners.
Some good strength exercises for runners are deadlifts, squats, lunges, push-ups, hip bridges and planks.
You can read more about other recommended exercises in my strength training guide for runners.
If you’re also in the market for some home gym equipment, check out the best home gym equipment essentials for runners.
Running faster than your steady pace can be classed as speed training.
Fartlek running, tempo running and interval running can all be classified as speed workouts.
Speedwork helps to improve your form and efficiency as a runner.
It also helps to build muscle, elevate your heart rate and increase calorie burn (if you’re in it for weight loss).
If you’re in a running funk and can’t seem to get faster, then speed workouts may be for you.
It’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone and experiment with different paces as a runner.
Your body benefits from running at different paces, as it can quickly get used to a steady pace.
So if you’re used to just running at a slow duration, it may be a sign to switch things up a bit!
Doing speedwork one or two times a week can dramatically increase your running times.
If you’re new to speedwork, a good beginner speed workout is strides.
Strides are short bursts of high intensity running, like sprinting, in between easy runs and recovery runs.
- Run 45 minutes at an easy pace that feels like a 4 or 5 out of 10 on the intensity scale. You should be able to hold a conversation without getting out of breath.
- Finish your run with 4 x 20-second strides on a track, flat road or field at max effort (think 7 or 8 out of 10), with 30- to 45-second recovery jogs in between.
The good news is there are lots of speed workouts you can try as part of your training plan.
The key is finding ones that you enjoy and won’t be too strenuous. Don’t take too much on at once!
Check out my post on my top 5 workouts to help you run faster for more info.
Run up hills
Hill running is another great way to build your endurance, strength and power as a runner.
Running up hills uses different energy systems than long, steady running and involves much more explosive movement to get your body up the hill.
Explosive movement and power are important when it comes to speed. The idea is that you run up a hill of 100-200 metres long at your 5k pace, then recover running or walking downhill.
As you approach the hill, make sure your arms are at a 90-degree angle and moving forward and back (not across your body).
Your back should be straight. You can lean very slightly forward from the hips as you run up the hill, but make sure you’re not hunched.
If you’re a beginner runner, I suggest you do 2 to 3 repeats but only after you’ve got a good base level of fitness.
Hill repeats are not for the faint hearted – so take them in your stride.
Adding hill repeats into your training will translate to better form and faster times—even on flat land.
So even though they feel horrendous when you’re doing them, they will pay off in the long run.
Perfect your form
Believe it or not, proper running form can shave valuable seconds off your running times.
By making small adjustments to your posture and form, you can help your body move with less effort.
Many components from form, footstrike to breathing come together to create optimal running form and posture.
By training your body to run in ways that puts the least strain on your joints, supporting muscles and ligaments during movement, you will become faster.
So what does good running form look like?
- Try not to look at the ground when running – keep your gaze upright and forward.
- Imagine you have a helium balloon attached to your head with a piece of string. This is what we call ‘running tall’.
- Lift your chin and retract your shoulders back slightly.
- You’ll find that once you start to raise your hips, the other parts of your body, including your chest and shoulders, will also straighten up.
- Swing your arms. How you hold and swing your arms makes a big difference to your stride and performance. Proper arm swing can help you run faster, more efficiently and even lower your risk of injury as well as help stabilise your body.
- Keep your arms by your sides and try and not let them cross your body. If you let your arms cross your body too much, it will cause rotation in your spine and thorax and will create inefficient running form.
- Drive your elbows back, keep them close to the sides of your body and keep them relaxed to avoid stiffness in your shoulders. Also remember to keep your elbows at a 90 degree angle.
If you’re a beginner runner, check out my post on how to run properly. Here I provide the lowdown on running technique and things you need to consider as a beginner runner.
Don’t forget about the long run
This may sound obvious, but long, slow runs are still important when training for faster times.
With all the strength training and speedwork, it’s still important to include those long, Sunday runs in your training plan.
Combining long, slow runs with speedwork, strength training and easy runs to aid recovery are all essential ingredients in a good training plan.
Strengthen your core
Your core is extremely important when running.
A good core means you are able to hold a strong and stable position for longer, thus allowing you hold proper form and posture.
Your back and stomach muscles are key components for good core strength.
Unfortunately, running alone won’t improve your core strength, you need to dabble in core strength exercises as well as running to really see results.
There are lots of core strength exercises you can do to improve your core strength, including hollow body holds, Superman pulls and planks.
Check out my post on some essential core exercises for runners for more information.
Allow time for recovery
When training for your next race, the temptation is to run every day.
Although this may appeal to some runners, over training is a huge factor when it comes to increased rates in injury and runner burnout.
Allow adequate time for recovery after each run – at least one day per week.
Unsure what a good recovery strategy looks like? Check out my top tips on how to recover after a long run.
I’ve also written extensively on injury prevention strategies as I think these are incredibly important when it comes to running strong.
Improve your eating habits
As with any form of exercise, running is nothing without proper nutrition.
If you’ve set your sights on a PB but you’re not seeing any improvement on the race track, then now may be a good time to re-assess and improve your nutrition and eating habits.
- Are you consuming enough protein? Protein is essential when it comes to muscle repair and recovery.
- Are you eating enough carbs? Carbohydrates are important when it comes to fuelling your runs.
- Are you consuming enough healthy fats? Fats are essential for good joint health.
Proper nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated. Eat a well-balanced diet made up of a variety of foods.
Try and incorporate veggies in every meal, drink enough water and focus on the carb and protein balance (e.g. carbs before a run and protein afterwards).
A 1995 study found that carbs should provide approximately 60-70% of a runner’s daily energy intake, whereas protein should provide approximately 12-15%, with the remainder provided by fat.
Before you go carb crazy, remember that high carb intake (or ‘carb loading’) is only recommended before a race, immediate recovery from or during heavy training periods.
One of my favourite ways to ensure I get a good dose of vitamins and minerals is by drinking smoothies.
There are some delicious and nutritious smoothie recipes out there which make post-run recovery a doddle!