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My Strategy To Try And Run A Fast 10k

When I ran my first 10k I loved the distance because it didn't feel as hard as the 5k or 1500 meter track races I was used to. It was only after running several of them, and aiming for faster and faster times that I realized that a big part of getting faster in the 10k was learning to tolerate more discomfort for longer. Now I realize that the 10k is only slightly slower and slightly less uncomfortable then a 5k, but for twice the distance which is what makes running a fast 10k so difficult. For me the key to being able to tolerate discomfort for that long has been to break up the race into smaller parts. I'm not the only one that does this because this strategy even has a name; It's called "chunking" and can be used to break up any task that seems impossible into manageable chunks. In the past I would break up the 10k into three times 3k and one bonus kilometer at the end. I find that three of something is easy to count and not too overwhelming when the race starts feeling hard; you'd be surprised how difficult things like counting and math become when you're trying to run fast. On a few occasions, three kilometers felt like a long way to go after the 6k mark in the race, so I developed a second strategy that I can use in these situations. If at the 6k mark I'm feeling like I won't be able to hold the pace for another 3k, I break up the last four kilometres into 2k, 1k, and the last kilometre. Sometimes it helps me survive that section between kilometer six and the finish line without slowing down too much. In terms of pacing a 10k, the best way to run a fast time on a flat race course (fast being a relative term here) is to aim for an even pace; if you try to "bank" time at the beginning you'll probably slow down a lot in later kilometers, and if you start too slow then you won't be able to make up for the time you lost because 10k pace already requires a relatively high effort level so it's hard to run much faster. In my experience, running an even pace usually means that my effort level has to slowly increase over the distance. That's doesn't mean it starts off easy, but it shouldn't feel like a 9 out of 10 effort in the first 60 second. I aim to start at a comfortably hard effort in the first 3 kilometers, and run the last half a kilometer at what feels like all-out-sprint effort. The key is that in between the effort needs to be increasing very gradually so that I'm not at all-out-sprint effort at the 6k mark. Reading this you might think that I'm completely in control of my pacing and effort when I run a 10k but that's far from the truth. Often the whole race feels like I was running at 10/10 effort level and as much as the race feels long while I'm running, it feels like it flew by once I cross the finish line… maybe that's how it's supposed to be since I can probably say the same thing about every other race distance including the marathon. The good thing about a 10k is that if you get the strategy wrong then you can try again 2-3 weeks later… unlike distances like a marathon which you can only re-attempt four to six months later. Do you have memories of a 10k race where everything seemed to come together perfectly? Did you have a pacing and chunking strategy? If so, how did you break up your run? Photo: This photo is from a 10 000m track race I ran in 2013 where I also ran a personal best of 38:14. The photo was taken after the race with me, coach John, and my training partner, Mel. I know this was 10 years ago but i still think I can beat this time and hope to go under 38 minutes at some point.

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