The 10k is one of the most popular running distances.
At 6.1 miles, it’s not a distance to be taken lightly, especially if you want to run it in under 45 minutes.
If you want to be able to run a 10k in 45 minutes or less, then your training plan needs to incorporate runs as well as activities like speed training and strength training.
According to Strava’s 2020 Year in Sport Report, among runners active on Strava since at least 2019, 55% logged a new personal best time in their 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon distances in 2020.
So if you’re looking to achieve your next 10k personal best, read on to find out how to run a 10k in 45 minutes or less.
In this guide we’ll explore:
- Are you ready to run a 10k in 45 minutes or less?
- How to calculate your 45 minute 10k pace
- What to include in a 45 minute 10k training plan?
- Tips to run a sub-45 minute 10k
Are you ready to run a 10k in 45 minutes or less?
If your current 10k race time is between 50 and 60 minutes then you may be ready to run a sub-45 minute 10k.
The median time it takes a person to run a 10k is between 56 and 64 minutes.
If you’re able to run a 10k in between 43 to 50 minutes, you’re in excellent health!
Even a 10k in 50 minutes is classed as an excellent time!
How to calculate your 45 minute 10k pace
Pace essentially tells you how fast you need to run in order to achieve your desired race time.
In order to run a 10k in 45 minutes or less, you need to be running at a 7.15 minutes per mile / 4.30 minutes per kilometre on race day.
Don’t worry – you won’t need to sustain this pace in all your training runs.
The idea is that you work your way up towards this pace during training.
It may take a few weeks to build up to it and this is completely normal.
Also remember that you shouldn’t adopt this pace for all your runs in your training plan.
Your easy and long runs should be at a slower pace, whilst your speed training sessions (e.g. interval training and tempo running) should match your desired 10k race pace, if not a little bit quicker.
For example, if your baseline 5k race pace is 6.52 minutes per mile, here’s what your other runs will look like in terms of pace:
- 5k pace – 6.52 per mile / 4.16 per km
- 10k pace – 7.09 per mile / 4.27 per km
- Long run pace – 8.18 per mile / 5.10 per km
- Easy run pace – 9.18 per mile / 5.47 per km
- Speed workout pace – 6.52 per mile / 4.16 per km
- V02 max pace – 6.35 per mile / 4.06 per km
- Strides pace – 5.46 per mile / 3.35 per km
Related: How to pace your run
45 minute 10k training plan
A well-rounded 10k training plan will include the following each week:
- 1 long run
- 2-3 easy runs
- 1 speed training session
- 1 strength training session
The long run is the mainstay in any 10k training plan.
In a typical 10k training plan, you should be including one long run a week that is between 4-8 miles, depending on where you are in the plan.
Long runs are still important for your training as they help you to build your endurance and stamina.
When coupled with speed training, they offer a powerful mix to help you run for faster for longer.
Remember to run at a comfortable pace during your long run – they shouldn’t feel too challenging and you should be able to hold a conversation while you run.
An easy run is designed to be easy!
The pace should be comfortable so you should be able to hold a conversation while you run without getting out of breath.
One of the most important aspects to run a 10k in 45 minutes or less is being able to sustain a pace of at least 7.15 per mile or 4.30 minutes per kilometre.
In order to do this, you must be including speed training sessions in your weekly training routine.
Speed training helps you run faster and when completed regularly, and helps you pick up your pace.
Interval training is a form of speed workout and it is a staple for many runners and it’s one of my favourite forms of speed training.
Intervals are short, intense bursts of fast running with a recovery time in between them.
Remember to warm up before doing any form of speed workout to avoid strain or injury.
One of the best tips on how to run a 10k in 45 minutes or less is to strength train.
Whilst it’s important to build up your endurance and speed as a runner, you must also focus on speed and strength if you want to become faster and stronger and less injury prone.
Strength training helps you build stronger muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues, which in turn helps to dramatically reduce the rate of injury.
If you’re new to strength training, the best way to start is to do basic bodyweight exercises. These include:
- Hip bridges
- Calf raises
These exercises great for beginners as they’re simple movements, you can do them anywhere and you don’t need any equipment to do them.
When training for a 10k, I recommend you include 2 to 3 strength training sessions per week in your training plan.
It’s also good to include non-running related activities during your training such as walking, hiking, cycling and yoga to break up the running.
Tips to run a sub-45 minute 10k
#1 Warm up
A warm up is essential before any run to get your body ready for the run and to reduce the risk of injury.
A proper warm up consists of two main parts: jogging to get your heart rate up and dynamic stretches to loosen your muscles.
Running drills and speed workouts like strides are also great additions to any warm up.
The general rule of thumb for warm ups is the more intense the run, the longer the warm up needs to be.
So if you’re running a 10k at a moderate to fast pace in order to run a 10k in 45 minutes or less, focus on doing a warm up that lasts at least 15 minutes.
#2 Wear the right gear
When it comes to achieving your desired race time, your running gear and running shoes play an integral role in getting you to the finish line.
It’s important to wear gear that is not only comfortable but supports you in all the right ways.
Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes that help you run fast.
You don’t want to have to worry about your shoes chafing or giving you blisters on race day.
Equally, you don’t want to wear shoes that don’t give you enough support and you end up injuring yourself as a result.
#3 Fuel your run
Fuel in the form of food and water are what give you energy on your runs. What you eat before, during and after a run can make or break your run.
Carbs are the go-to energy source for many runners as they release energy a lot faster.
This is why ‘carb loading’ is important on the days leading up to a long race like a half marathon or marathon.
Knowing how much to eat before a run depends on how intense you expect the session to be and how comfortable you feel with certain foods.
Before a 10k race, try and have something at least two hours before you plan to run so your body has time to digest the food.
Here are some ideas of what you could eat:
- Porridge with bananas or blueberries
- Wholegrain toast with scrambled eggs
- Healthy granola
- A bagel with peanut butter and banana on top
- A peanut butter and chocolate smoothie
Try and avoid anything that will aggravate your stomach. Avoid spicy foods and beans and lentils as these can lead to an upset stomach.
Foods high in fibre and excessively fatty foods are also hard to digest.
#4 Cool down
The cool down is essential to help with recovery after your run.
A proper cool down will help to bring your heart rate down following your run and will help to reduce any muscle soreness.
Cool down exercises like static stretches should be included in your cool down.
#5 Enjoy the run!
When you’re so focused on achieving a certain race time, it can be easy to forget what running is all about and lose the enjoyment of running.
Remember that training for your 10k is only temporary and that you will soon be able to enjoy more leisurely runs.