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How to improve your 10k run time

Updated on March 23, 2014

Fitter = Better

You may already think that you have reached optimum fitness but is that really the case? If you can raise your fitness level further then your run time will almost certainly improve, especially over longer distances like the 10k.

How hard are you pushing yourself with your weekly runs?

If you can push yourself further and harder on your weekly runs then you can raise your fitness level and see that run time fall. To raise your fitness try increasing the intensity of every second run and also varying the nature of that run. An intense run doesn't need to be short and high tempo, you could also increase the intensity of your run by increasing the distance and pushing yourself in terms of endurance. Keep your fitness levels high by alternating these intense runs with easier runs.

Don't take time out. It's tempting to take a short time out and to give yourself a break from running, once that happens a few days off can quickly become a couple of weeks. When you do this you allow your fitness level to tail off significantly and the time required to rebuild your fitness is increases with the length of the break.

Increasing fitness is the first and most important step to beating that 10k record and being honest about whether your weekly runs are intensive enough is the first step to improving fitness.

Running Hills

Running hills delivers big rewards in terms of fitness but it brings some other key benefits which are going to help you improve on that time.

Uphill runs are fantastic at improving leg strength and also building your aerobic capacity whilst downhill running allows you to work on your running efficiency. Running flats doesn't deliver the same fitness gains nor the leg workout which can be gained by running hills.

Including hill runs in your weekly schedule will aid fitness, aerobic capacity and leg strength so it's the second step to improving your 10k time.

You could work the same hill repeatedly during a run, uphill and downhill cycles ending with an uphill sprint to really push your limits. That hard work will have an impact on your ability to push the end of a 10k which is typically where seconds or even minutes are lost or gained.

Our five steps to improving your 10k time

  • Improve fitness
  • Run hills
  • Plyometric (jumping) exercises
  • Improve core strength
  • Eat well


Plyometric training includes exercises where your muscles need to deliver maximum force in a very short space of time to increase muscle strength.

As a runner you can use plyometric jumping exercises to increase your leg muscle strength through powerful muscle contractions. Performing a series of jumping exercises once per week as part of your training schedule is all that is required to start to see benefits from plyometric training.

Lower body plyometric exercises can include stationary jumps for height, hopping or drop jumps where you drop from a raised platform before crouching and then jumping with maximum effort. Steps are an easy available aid for plyometric exercises so you could for example try double footed jumps up a series of steps.

Which of these 5 steps do you think is the most important in improving times?

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Improving Core Strength

Improving your core strength is a benefit no matter whether you are a runner or just a sportsperson in general as it reduces the likelihood of you sustaining injuries which ultimately will affect your fitness and subsquently your times.

There is another aspect to improving core strength for a runner though as it can have a very positive effect on your running economy. A runner with good core strength is able to better make changes to their running style to aid economy which can have a major impact on your race times.

Improve your core strength by introducing sit-ups and planks to your fitness routine a couple of times a week and you'll see a significant difference in your core strength which should find its way through to your race times.

Eat well

All too often runners eat well but just not well enough using the excuse that they're engaged in a fitness routine which sees them burn thousands of calories a week. Eating well could be the factor which helps you to knock those extra few seconds off of that 10k time.

What should you eat?

Natural protein is great for a runner as are healthy fats, eat plenty of salads along with foods which specifically provide those proteins and healthy fats such as nuts. When you are preparing to tackle that 10k race and improve your time then ensure that you get plenty of protein and carbs in the 24 hours before the race to leave you in optimum condition to give your best.

If you eat better then you feel better and it has a corresponding effect on your race times. Avoid the temptation to replace those calories you burn during training by binging on chocolate or pasta.


Do you have any tips you want to share on improving that 10k race time? Is there another tip that needs to be added to our golden five?

Or have you tried our tips and have a success story to share?

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