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Intermediate 10km programme

This programme is for you if you have already done a 10km race or longer and would like to improve your time. It uses long runs so you can cover the distance and tempo and speed work to increase your pace.

The programme sets out a schedule of running four times a week on the following days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. You can train on different days depending on when you have time, but you should keep the recommended number of rest days between your training days.

Intermediate 10km programme
  Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8
Mon Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day
Tues 2 miles easy 2 miles easy 3 miles easy 3 miles easy 2 miles easy 2 miles easy 3 miles easy 3 miles easy
Wed 30 minutes tempo 30 minutes tempo 30 minutes tempo 40 minutes tempo 40 minutes tempo 50 minutes tempo 50 minutes tempo 5km race-pace run
Thur Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day
Fri 30 minutes easy 30 minutes easy 30 minutes easy 30 minutes speed 30 minutes speed 30 minutes speed 30 minutes speed 3 miles easy
Sat Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day
Sun 3 miles 5 miles 6 miles 7 miles 8 miles 8 miles 6 miles 10km race

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Training aims

Weeks one to three

The programme has two aims - distance and speed. To cover the distance, you will extend your long runs up to 10km in three weeks and then beyond. You should do these long runs at an effort level of about seven. You are aiming to challenge yourself just a little as you increase the distance, so try not to drop your speed down to easy or recovery pace. The aim of the long run is to build up your endurance beyond the race distance, to make sure that 10km is well within your comfort zone. You can then focus on speed.

You may have a goal in mind for how fast you want to complete your 10km race. Keep a note of your mile times (or, if you prefer, kilometre times). You may want to measure your six mile time at the end of the third week to give yourself a benchmark time you can aim to improve on.

Tempo and speed training will build up your speed. Have a look at the suggested sessions in the how the programmes work article. For week one, you should experiment with running at and increased pace. You may choose to do the speed and tempo sessions on a treadmill at first, so you can accurately measure your speed and distance.

The speed work in weeks two and three is good for pushing your fitness up in a short session without tiring you out too much before the longer run.

Pace management

Test your pace to track and improve your performance

Weeks four to six

This part of the programme focuses on tempo sessions. You need to find the fastest pace you can run for the time it takes you to cover the distance. During these sessions you are aiming to increase the time you can run at tempo speed and reduce the length of recovery time you need between each tempo run.

You may prefer to run 20 minutes solid at tempo speed with 10 minutes recovery running and then another 20 minutes tempo. Or you may find it easier to run 10 minutes of tempo with just five minutes recovery. Experiment with the patterns. Your aim is to get used to increasing the amount of tempo running, so that on the day you can complete the race at a fast pace. You need to know how long you can sustain these fast paces so you don't set out too fast and find you can't keep it up.

To chart your progress, it's a good idea to compare your mile times from the eight miles in week six with the six miles you did in week three. Now you are getting fitter, you may well find that your mile times are around the same in both of these runs, despite the extra distance you are now running. This is a great achievement.

It's valuable to do some speed work on Fridays to keep pushing up your aerobic fitness and building up your limb strength and speed. It should also help you keep in mind the difference between an effort level eight tempo speed, which you may be able to keep up for 20 minutes, and an effort level 10 speed run, which you can only sustain for a minute or two. This is the pace you are aiming for when you see the finish line.

Weeks seven to eight

By week seven you should have good aerobic fitness and endurance from the longer runs, so running the six miles should be easy. Use the last two weeks to plan your race pace. Try to increase your usual long run pace, but not as high as your tempo pace. Start out steady and as you warm up, increase your pace slightly after each mile.

Week eight is your "taper" week, where you need to wind down and recover before your race, and you should take it quite easy. However, the race-pace run on Wednesday is a good time to have another go at getting your race pace together. Jog an easy half mile or so as a warm up and then run a solid 5km (or as close as you can measure) at the pace you are aiming to run during the race. This should be effort level seven to eight and should push you a little. Then have an easy mile to cool down.

You should feel invigorated as you have challenged yourself a little with the pace, but the thought of pushing on and holding that pace for that few extra kilometres on the day should seem well within your limits. If you feel exhausted, you may need to start off a little slower on the day.

Race preparation

Make sure you are fit for race day, and use our countdown to make sure you are fully prepared.