Training for a 40-minute 10k by Roch Frey**

The sub-40-miinute 10K, similar to the sub-4-niinute mile barrier in the '50s, is one of those times in running that seems impossible to break, but once broken is easy to accomplish time and time again. Training for a 40-minute 10K, whether in a straight-up 10K road race or at the end of an international-distance triathlon, is achievable if the goal is realistic for you and if the proper training is performed.

The first step in achieving a sub-40-niinute 10K is to ask yourself if this is a realistic goal. This is a 6:27 pace per mile. Is your PR for a 10K around 41 or 42 minutes? If so, breaking 40 minutes with the correct training is realistic. On the other hand, if your best 10K time is 48 minutes, you may want to key in on breaking 45 minutes first. After determining that sub-40 minutes is achievable, you need to pick a race that suits your strengths. Pick a flat course if you have more leg speed than strength, or a rolling course if you feel strong on the hills.

Following is a six-week training program specifically geared toward a sub-40-n-tinute 10K. Throughout the schedule, the harder training sessions are on the track and road and the intensity is determined by heart rate or pace.  Liniiting yourself to track running or only training with a heart rate monitor is not the best way to train. Use a combination of different running terrain and different ways to determine your intensity and pace. Track sessions will give you direct feedback as to what pace you are running, and intervals on the roads or trails at certain heart rates will allow you to train the proper system without worrying about pace.

Try not to get caught up in what pace you are running (especially on easier or longer days) or watching your heart rate. There are days when you need to head out the door and just run - going by feel alone. Follow the schedule as closely as possible. If you miss a workout, don't try to make it up later on in the week - just get back into the program. If you have been running consistently over the past 2-3 months, you should be able to get right into the program. If not, ease up on the first few harder sessions until you feel comfortable with faster running.

It is extremely important to remember that gains in athletic performance come from consistent training over a longer period of time. Hard training sessions won't do you any good if you have to take a full week off to properly recover. Consistency is key. Six weeks of proper training will help you achieve that sub-40-minute 10K. Don't use your target IOK as the first race of the year. Instead, try a shorter race on the weekend of week 2 or 3. This will not effect your training or preparation for the 10K. Just make sure you get a slightly longer warm-up of 30 minutes and a good cooldown of 30 minutes after the race. Try to hit your goal pace of 6:13 for two or three miles.

Race Day Prep:

Get to the race at least 60 minutes before the gun goes off on the day of your target IOK. Drive the course if possible to become familiar with it. Warm up with 20-30 minutes of easy running followed by 4-6 accelerations (similar to a proper warm-up before a track session). Keep jogging lightly right up to the start of the race or until you are corralled behind the starting line.

Pacing for the race is important. Often people start out too fast, only to feel the weight of a grand piano on their back around mile 4 or 5. Start out feeling alittle conservative. Nerves will still probably take you through the first mile slightly quicker than 6:13. Don't panic if you are slower than your goal pace. Pick it up slightly, being cautious not to run a 5:30 second mile.

Even pacing or, better yet, negative splitting the race (running the second half faster than the first) is the best way to reach your sub-40-minute 10K. If you know a runner who consistently runs 39-niinute 10K's and is known for maintaining an even pace, stick with him/her, but still keep track of your own pace and effort in case your mentor is having an off day.

Trust your instincts in following the schedule. These workouts are not etched in stone. Use your own cognitive intuition when performing a workout. If you take time off at the first sign of an injury, lapses in your training can be kept to a minimum. Consult a health care professional if unsure.

Easy Runs:

Easy runs are just that - easy, relaxed runs at 60-75% of your max heart rate. To determine heart rate training levels, use a simple formula of 220 minus your age (226 for women). This gives you an approximation of your maximum heart rate.

It is best to determine your training heart rate zones without the use of a formula, however. You can do this through a max heart rate test, but that is extremely hard to do and can also be dangerous. A better way is to determine your aerobic threshold rather than max heart rate and then determine your training levels.

This can be done as easily as wearing your heart rate monitor at your next 5K or IOK road race. Most athletes can maintain just at or slightly above their AT throughout a 30-45 niinute effort. There are also several coaches and physiology labs that can do a simple AT test while you run on a treadmill. Your average heart rate throughout the race corresponds to 85-90% of your max heart rate.

Interval Sessions:

Intervals are simply repeats of certain durations ranging from 1-4 minutes in length followed by a rest interval of moderate running. All intervals will be at specified heart rates. The recovery should be easy enough to allow the heart rate to drop down to 70% of maximum heart rate or about 20-30 beats. Warm-up and cool-down for 15 minutes before and after each interval session.

Session I - Week 1. 4 x 4 minutes at 80-85% max heart rate, 2-minute recovery after each, 10-n-iinute cooldown.

Session 2 - Week 3. 7 x 3 minutes at 80-85% max heart rate, 2-n-iinute easy recovery after each, 15-20-minute cooldown.

Session 3 - Week 5. 5 x I minute at 80-95% of max heart rate (start the first minute at 80% and progressively get faster on each one, making the last one the fastest), 2-n-tinute easy recovery after each, 10-n-tinute cooldown.


Each repeat of 200-800 meters on the track is followed by an easy recovery run. Start all track sessions with a 15-20-minute warm-up and 4-6 accelerations. Finish all track sessions with 15-20-minute cooldown and light stretching.

Session I - Week 1. 6-8 x 400 meters followed by 200 meters easy jog recovery. All 400s run at 5 seconds faster than 10K race pace ( 1: 31)

Session 2 - Week 2. 4-5 x 800 followed by 400 jog recovery. All 800s run at 5 seconds faster than 10K pace (3:08)

Session 3 - Week 3. 8 x 200 followed by 200 jog recovery. All 200s run at 10 seconds faster than 10K pace (0:38)

Session 4 - Week 4. 8- 1 0 x 400 followed by 200 easy jog recovery. All 400s run at 5 seconds faster than 10K pace (1: 31)

Session 5 - Week 5. 3 x 800 followed by 400 jog recovery, run at 5 seconds faster than 10K pace (3:08). 4 x 400 followed by 200 jog recovery, run at 10 seconds faster than 10K pace (1:26). 5 x 200 followed by 200 jog recovery, run at 10 seconds faster than 10K pace (0:38)

Session 6 - Week 6. 4 x 400 followed by 400 jog recovery. All run at 5- 10 seconds faster than 10K pace (1: 26-1:31)

Repeat times for track sessions: 10K Time/ 200m Repeat /400m Repeat /800m Repeat   40:00/0:48/1:36/3:13


Towards the end of an easy run, find a flat stretch of road, grass, trail or track and accelerate for 60- 1 00 meters up to 90% top speed; slow down, walk back and repeat 4- 10 times. These help tremendously with leg speed and should be performed weekly throughout the year.

Steady Runs

A steady run is performed on varying terrain (hilly and flat) at 80-90% of maximum heart rate (within five beats below and above your AT) or between 20-30 seconds slower than race pace (6:43-6:33 per mile). Be sure to wann up and cool down for the first and last 10-15 minutes of these runs.

Long Runs

Long runs are done at 60-80% of maximum heart rate. It's important not to run faster than 80%. This should be a relaxing, non-stressful run. Try to do these off road on the softer tros, which are easier on the legs.

Cross Training

On Wednesdays and Saturdays, you should cross train with activities other than running. Cycling, swimn-iing, in-line skating - almost any non-running physical activity that you enjoy counts as cross training. Performing an activity besides running will give you a mental and physical break, while still strengthening your cardiovascular system and conditioning the overall body. Cross training will substantially reduce the risk of a running-related injury. It is important to keep cross training activities at an easy effort so you will have energy to do your run workouts properly.

Strength Training

If you are already doing weight workouts, maintain the sessions twice weekly, but stop two weeks prior to race day.

6 Week Sub 40-minute 10K Training Program
Wk Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun
1 OFF 60 min Track 60-90 min
X-Train or 30 min easy run
40 min easy + accel 40 min intervals 60-90 min Cross Train 80 min
2 OFF 70 min Track 60-90 min X-Train or 40 min easy run 50 min easy + accel 50 min steady 60-90 min Cross Train 90 min
3 OFF 70 min Intervals 60-90 min X-Train or 40 min easy run 40 min easy + accel 60 min
60-90 min Cross Train 105 min Long
4 OFF 70 min Track 60-90 min X-Train 50 min easy + acce 60 min steady 60-90 min Cross Train 90 min
5 OFF 70 min Track 60-90 min X-Train 50 min easy + acce 50 min Intervals 60-90 min Cross Train 70 min
6 OFF 50 min Track 40 min easy run 40 min easy + accel OFF 30 min easy run RACE

All times are in minutes.

Easy - 60-75% of Maximum Heart Rate
Long - Long, aerobic runs at 70-80% of Maximum Heart Rate
Steady - 80-90% of Maximum Heart Rate
Intervals - Repeats of certain times (each interval described in detail)
Track - Repeats of certain distances performed on a running track (each track workout described in detail)
Accel - Accelerations performed at the end of an easy run
X-Train - Cross Training in a sport other than running

** Currently the coach of UCSD's Master's Swimming and Triathlon programs, Roch Frey is also on the staff of the Multi-Sport School of Champions, runs his California Dreaming Triathlon and Two Men Will Train You Training camps with Paul Huddle. Information about their online trianing program is located at http://www.multisports.con/olc.html. He works throughout the year with his own personal stable of clients including Heather Fuhr (Ironman Hawaii Champion, Japan Ironman and Wildflower Triathlon winner) and Peter Reid (two-time Ironman Australia champion andfourth place Ironman Hawaii).