Coach Jeff

Written by Coach Jeff


10k Specific Training – A glimpse inside the training of an elite runner

In this week’s glimpse inside the training of an elite runner, I am going to show you a two week 10k specific block of training.

In past articles, we’ve discussed the theoretical background behind the need to train to the specific demands of the race, especially as it pertains to the 5k and the marathon. We’ve also outlined particular workouts you could incorporate into your training to more accurately target the specific demands of your goal race distance.

The purpose of posting this 2 week block of training is to help you tie together the theoretical and practical workouts we’ve discussed already and visualize how it all comes together in an actual training plan.


This two week phase of training occurred about 9 weeks prior to the goal race, which was a track 10k at Stanford University to achieve the Olympic Trials 10k ‘A’ Standard. After this block of workouts, I started an altitude training stint (2 weeks at 7700ft, 2 weeks at sea level, 2 weeks at 7700ft), which I will detail and explain in a future post.

Like all my previous training posts, this is a direct scan from my actual training log, without edits. Please excuse any personal anecdotes or grammatical mistakes.

10k Specific Training Cycle

Mon: 1/14/08

AM: 12 mile run (1:22:00)
Didn’t realize how hilly this run was until today. Didn’t feel too bad, much better than the last few days but kept it easy. The real test will be tomorrow’s workout.

PM:5 mile run (35:00)
Nice and easy on the golf course. Felt pretty good compared to the last few days. Strides/drills/core

Tue: 1/15/08

AM: 5 mile run (36:00)
Nice little shakeout through the golf course

One problem with traditional interval workouts that are run at a consistent pace is that the recovery between those intervals allows the athlete to recover to a state that is very unlike the corresponding point in a race. A “hammer” dramatically increases your level of fatigue, just at the point in the workout where you’re feeling the most tired.

PM: 3w/u, 12 x 800 w/2min rest (2:13.9) (2:12.9) (2:12.9) (2:12.6) (2:13.4) (2:12.5) (2:11.8) (2:12.7) (2:12.4) (2:12.3) (hammer – 2:05.9) (2:13.9), 3c/d
Total = 12 miles – Myers Park track

Finally, a very good workout today. Felt pretty good from the start although I was nervous because I really wanted to hit this one before starting up the indoor races. All of them just felt solid and the paces were just coming to me so I went with it. Interval five started to get a little tough and really hammered the 11th interval and surprised myself with the time. Pretty tired afterwards and stomach flip turned upside down. Whirlpool

Wed: 1/16/08

AM: 5 mile run 35:00 – pool (30:00)
Pretty stiff and sore this morning but to be expected. Plantar pretty sore when I woke up but loosened up as I ran. I am going to try and use the pool as a recovery and strength tool this year. I have always found that I come out of the pool after an injury feeling strong so i hope to reap some of those benefits by going in Wednesday and Sundays. Plus, it offers a nice little shakeout after tough runs and long runs.

PM: 11 mile run (1:14:00)
Pretty rough run, one of those ones you’d rather just forget. Had major heartburn the first 30mins, so bad that I turned around and went back home for some tums. The last 20mins or so was pretty tiring on the legs so just cut it to 11. Drills and strength

Thur: 1/17/08

AM: 12 mile run (1:20:00)
Pouring a nice freezing rain this morning made the run a little dreary. Was supposed to run miles 6-10 at around 5:30 pace but I was still pretty tired from Tuesday and I think the freezing rain kept the legs from getting warm. Ran about 6min pace.

PM: 5 mile run (37:00)
Felt pretty sluggish and tired for this one. It was a very damp cold

Fri: 1/18/08

AM: 12 mile run (1:24:00)
Felt ok during the run, nothing major going on and def. better than yesterday. Legs got a little tired towards the end but not too bad.

PM: 5 mile run
Very easy through the ETSU campus with the team. Felt ok actually, considering the drive. finished up with some strides and drills on the track.

Sat: 1/19/08

AM: 4w/u, 5k (14:38), 3c/d
Total = 10 miles – ETSU
Overall not very pleased with this race. Took the first mile feeling pretty easy in 4:38 and Daniel took over for the next mile which we toured in 4:38 again. I was feeling pretty decent until about 3k and then I started to get pretty tired. tried to pick it up for the last mile, as the goal was to try and run sub 4:30. I really didn’t “recommit” for the last mile and faded pretty hard. Got smoked in the last mile. I hate losing!

PM: 3w/u, 3k (8:24), 2c/d
Total = 9 miles – ETSU
Another not so pleasing race. I thought the field would be a little better and really didn’t want to lead until after the first mile. However, I ended up in the front of the field and ran a 69 hoping people would take over. No one did so I just put the pedal to the track and started running 66’s. Dropped the field quickly except for Daniel who used me and didn’t lead a step for the next 2700m. Did a good job of maintaining 66’s, but got kicked on the last lap by Daniel.

Really pissed off about it after the race but once I cooled down I realized there is no one to blame but myself. If I want to be good I have to deal with things like that and either get faster or use better tactics. Overall I was a little slower than I wanted for the two race workouts this weekend but I it was a good effort and will go a long way towards the big races this Spring.

Sun: 1/20/08
AM: 10 mile run (1:07:00)
Decided to run a little shorter to make sure I was recovered from this weekend. As much as I have matured the last few years, I still tend to push the mileage numbers even though I know recovery days might be more beneficial. I am going to make a conscious effort to be better at that in the next few weeks. No long run because Scott wants us to have a hard fast long run tomorrow.

Don’t force long runs and workouts just because “Sunday is long run day”. If a workout or long run doesn’t make sense on that particular day, either move it or skip it all together

Mon: 1/21/08

18 mile run (1:40:21) [avg.5:34] (Splits – 6:45, 5:57, 5:41, 5:37, 5:27, 5:22, 5:32, 5:34, 5:39, 5:32, 5:26, 5:23, 5:29, 5:37, 5:35, 5:15, 5:20, 5:02)
Solid long run today, although it is no Ryan Hall. Aerobically felt very easy the whole way, I don’t think at any point did I ever feel stressed aerobically. My calves started to tighten up at 4 miles and they never really got any better. My legs came around for the workout, never really getting too tired and nothing cramped up but I am very sore as I write this. Beautiful day for a long run 48 and cloudy with little wind and a sprinkle here and there.

Tue: 1/22/08

AM: 5 mile run (35:00) – Pool (25:00)
Run felt decent today, wasn’t that sore but my legs got pretty tired up and down the hills.

PM: 8 mile run (55:20)
Could it be true, in my old age I am becoming smarter? After a tough 3 days I decided that taking it easy today was a smart idea. There is no reason to bury myself in a hole with the great week of training I had last week. Felt decent running just under 7 min pace. Strides/drills strength.

Wed: 1/23/08

AM: 4 mile run (28:30)
Felt really bad today, stayed out pretty late with friends and didn’t sleep well. I am pretty pissed off about that. I say I am focused on training hard to make the Olympic trials and then I go and act like some college freshmen who doesn’t know how to sleep the night before a workout.

PM: 3w/u, 25×400 w/55sec rest, 2c/d (65, 65, 66, 65, 64, 66, 64, 64, 65, 66, 66, 64, 64, 64, 65, 65, hammer – 59, 67, 67, 66, 64, 69, 67, hammer – 59, 62)
Total = 12 miles – Myers Park track
Pretty pissed off about this workout. I was kind of dreading it all day and really didn’t go into it with the attitude of wanting to work hard and hurt – I was just going through the motions. Started out ok, hitting mid 65’s to 66’s but when the workout got tough I just packed it in. I know I was by myself today and that makes it harder to push when you are hurting, but being a pansy is no excuse. Races are hard and at times I need to rely on myself to push the pace and make it hurt, otherwise I mine as well hang up the spikes. Today was just a weak showing mentally all around and will have to really work on that if I want to be successful this year.

Thur: 1/24/08

AM: 10 mile run (1:07:00)
Legs were pretty tired after yesterdays workout. Just slogged through this one in the heat.

PM: 5 mile run (34:00)
Ran pretty easy on the golf course. Did a light set of core after

Fri: 1/25/08

AM: 12 mile run (1:19:30)
Legs felt heavy this morning but still moving at an ok pace until the end. Weather was great, ran without a shirt again.

PM: 5 mile run (33:00)
Ran the golf course loop and felt pretty good. Did core and strides today

Sat: 1/26/08

AM: 3 w/u, 7 tempo (35:05) [5:01, 5:04, 5:02, 5:03, 4:55, 5:00, 4:56] 3c/d
Total = 13 miles – McAlpine
Pretty happy with the workout today, the splits weren’t anything mind blowing but at least I didn’t blow up. My best tempo effort since coming to Charlotte. Felt really good the first 4 or 5 miles or so and the last two had to put some effort in but felt strong. My chest was pretty congested, it felt like there was a little phlegm in my lungs that I just couldn’t get. Perfect weather

PM: 7 mile run (47:00)
Late run because had to pick up the recruit. It was dark, not too cold and once I got going I didn’t feel too bad. Was long to make sure all the kids on the team knew where they were going.

Sun: 1/27/08

AM: 12 mile run (1:18:30)
Still a little sore this morning but I figured I would feel this way, so not surprised. Was almost 70 this morning and might hit 80 today, woohooo. The weather in Gunnison and Maine is going to be a kick to the face.

PM: 6 mile run (41:00)
Ran the golf course easy with the guys, felt so-so. A good session of strides, plyos and drills. I will be heading to altitude next week for two, two-week stints. I haven’t tried this type of up and down approach before, but the research Scott put together is convincing and I am excited to give it a try.

What you can learn from this 10k training cycle

More than just sharing the training of an elite runner, I hope you can take some valuable lessons from my thoughts, specific workouts, and overall approach to training.

Make sure your workouts are race specific

The two track workouts in this cycle are what coaches call “10k specific” because they address the specific demands of the 10k race. In this case, we needed to train the body to handle 10k of volume on the track and in spikes, which is why each workout is 10k in volume.

Each track workout also demonstrates the use of “hammer intervals” to help simulate that late race pain threshold and decision making point. Likewise, a secondary goal is to practice even pacing throughout the entire workout. Finding a good rhythm and being able to control effort and pace is critical during races like the 10k and half marathon.

Don’t be afraid to recover and break out of the 7-day cycle

If you read my previous post on overtraining and listening to your body, you’ll see that I did a much better job of listening to my body and giving it the rest it needed after hard workouts.

In previous training cycles, I stubbornly pushed through what should have been recovery runs to hit mileage totals. In this training block, shortened my recovery runs when I was tired, which allowed me to have better workouts and actually perform better overall. You’re takeaway – don’t get caught up in the mileage numbers and listen to your body.

Likewise, you’ll see that I moved a long run from Sunday to Monday to accommodate recovery. While I understand not everyone has the ability to do long runs during the week, the lesson is still applicable – don’t force long runs and workouts just because “Sunday is long run day”. If a workout or long run doesn’t make sense on that particular day, either move it or skip it all together.

Conduct a post mortem and extract lessons from bad workouts and races

I kept this log unedited. As a consequence, you get a little insight into my personal thoughts about having a bad workout due to staying out later than planned and dealing with frustrating tune-up races.

In both instances, I think it’s important that runners view tough races as an opportunity to conduct a post mortem, identify key lessons, and use bad days as motivation to improve for the next time.

For example, we all have long runs or workouts that are doomed from the start because we stayed out late the night before or had a less than ideal dinner while out with friends. Don’t let those instances ruin an entire workout or your week of training. Instead, focus on doing your best for that session and remember the lesson so the next time you’ll have the restraint to get the job done.

I hope you enjoyed this peak inside my training. Do you have questions about this can apply to you? Please feel free to comment or ask questions below to let me know what you think.

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6 Responses on “10k Specific Training – A glimpse inside the training of an elite runner

  1. Many tnx to the us how hard it is be inside the one should try this plan because its been made for a individual atlete with individual not mention the base training before and what happens after that two weeks.many tnx again.

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