10 Mile Training Plan: Master 16 Kilometers

A 10 mile training plan has to encompass some anaerobic training. The event asks a lot out of runners and involves both speed and endurance. I have competed in numerous 10 mile road races such as the Army Ten Miler and the Cherry Blossom 10 miler.

10 mile training plan

The 10 mile road race is my favorite distance as it is for millions of other runners around the world. How should one train for 16 kilometers and how should a 10 mile training plan be built? Always keep in mind, the shorter the race distance the more speed and stamina is involved. The longer the race the more endurance and a mixture of the two should be the focus.

Why Should You Listen To My Advice Regarding A 10 Mile Training Plan?

Well, I am certainly not the fastest runner out there but I have some experience with the distance. If you are going to truly test your capability in this event you have to be willing to compete against those much better than you.

My best time for the 10 mile distance is 50:54. I passed the 10-mile mark during the Philadelphia Half Marathon in this time. My best open 10-mile time is the 51:29 I ran at the 2007 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. I placed 24th overall with that time which gives you an idea of just how competitive that race was. Times we run don’t matter as much as sharing some insight on what it takes to run faster at all distances.

The great and late Zig Ziglar said it best,

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care

This is my goal here at rundreamachieve and was one of the biggest reasons I created the RunDreamAchieve Academy. This is a new resource here on the site where I will be creating runner courses to help athletes set new personal bests.

Key Strategies To Run A Faster 10 Mile Race

  1. Practice your goal race pace often.

In addition to that, practice running at paces that far exceed your race pace. Running faster than goal race pace is an often overlooked aspect of learning to run fast. It isn’t just that but also being able to sustain your pace for long periods of time.

Look at the world’s best runners. They don’t just come from Kenya. The Japanese national record for the marathon is 2:05:50. The world’s top runners routinely run 10-mile times below 46 minutes. Why do they make it look so easy?

They all make it look as thought they are on a relaxing run. What is their secret? Well, I cannot write on what it takes to break 46 minutes but I do have the authority to write on what it takes to break 51 minutes and anything slower.

  2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Your greatest asset is your time management skills during the week. Your commitment to train at faster speeds throughout your weekly training regiment is key. If you want to drop your 10-mile personal best getting comfortable with your goal race pace is essential.

The good news is this works. The bad news is it is extremely taxing on the body to train at paces that are 30 seconds to 1 minute faster than goal 10 mile race pace. A strong 10 mile training plan should focus on this. Runners, regardless if beginner or elite, are willing to make that sacrifice to be better.

It is one thing to run 90-100 miles in a week running easy. It is another to do the same amount with a much higher percentage of those miles run at a faster pace.

Leg Speed

2. Focus on your leg speed

The key to running very fast over the shorter race distances is leg speed. The trick to running fast times is to get the body to adapt to the stress load you are placing upon it. Do you want to know the real secret to running faster over the 10 mile race distance?

Get the body to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up in your bloodstream. This physiological adaptation doesn’t come by way of running slow, easy miles. The benefits come in the recovery and the best runners know when to take it easy.

Lift Your Knees and Sprint

Great workouts to help you run faster for 10 miles are doing hill sprint repetitions. I would do these often leading into 10 mile races like the Army Ten Miler and the Cherry Blossom 10 miler. I would find a hill 400 to 600 meters long and sprint all out up and jog or walk the way down.

Why are these types of workouts essential? They help the body create more fast twitch muscle fibers. The more fast twitch muscles fibers you can recruit the higher oxygen capacity you will have. Additionally, the more economical you are going to run. A 10 mile training plan for beginners as well as advanced-level athletes should focus on this.

3. Train at 5K race pace

This ties into what we discussed above. The faster you train the better equipped you are going to be over the 10 mile distance. The best way to drop significant time off your current 10 mile personal best is training at 5K to 10K race pace.

The Magic Is In The Long Run

4. Lengthen your long run

The long run is the hardest workout that I do. You should always vary the paces of your long run. This teaches the body to handle race surges and help you to react to any moves your competition makes.

This tactic helped me lower my 10 mile best from 55:13 to 50:54, half marathon from 1:10:29 to 1:07:06 and marathon from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35.

Did the long run help me over the 10-mile distance? Yes.

My best time in college was 55:13. It wasn’t until I started being coached by a former Boston Marathon champion that my 10-mile times started to drop. My first serious attempt at the distance came at the 2002 Army Ten Miler.

It was my first year in the Army and I continued to train after graduating from college in 2000. I ran 53:21 at the 2002 Army Ten Miler lowering my personal best by nearly 2 minutes. I would go on to run 53:06 at the 2003 Army Ten Miler, 51:53 at the 2004 Army Ten Miler and ran a 51:58 in 2010.

5. Be Patient

The 10 mile road race is the perfect race distance. That being said, like all race distances you have to be patient and let your fitness come to you. Sure, the work has to be done but you also cannot rush the process.

There are going to be days where you have a workout planned and you simply run horrible. You may be fatigued, need more sleep, failed to drink properly or just feel run down. Racing well also means listening to your body in training so that you can perform when the moment of truth arrives.

You cannot control the weather but you can control how you comprise your training during the week. We have control of the foods and drinks we place in our bodies.

What Else Is Needed In A 10 Mile Training Plan?

You don’t need to run 7 days a week to run a great 10 mile time. Are you a beginner? Focus on running a few extra miles during each week. A great strategy that will pay dividends over a 3 to 4 month block of training is doing strides.

Strides are gradually faster paced sprints that are 50 to 100 meters in length. They are a great way to work on your leg speed but also not long enough to build up large amounts of lactic acid. These short but extremely important parts of a 10 mile training plan add up over time.

Why are they important? The athlete is spending several miles at sprint speeds. This can add up to several miles over a 12 to 16 week 10 mile training plan. Imagine how manageable your race pace is going to feel now?

Tempo Runs

6. Focus on tempo runs

Tempo runs are usually conducted at heart rates between 167 to 172 beats per minute. I am a huge advocate of heart rate training. You can find great heart rate monitors on Amazon at reasonable costs. These are investments in yourself so purchase one that is going to provide the features you seek. I personally use the Garmin 620.

I’ve been training with a heart rate monitor since 2002. Jack Hazen, the 2012 USA Olympic track and field assistant coach got me involved with them. He was also my collegiate coach. The best runners in the world use heart rate monitor training as a means to succeed.

Lactic Acid

Tempo runs teach us to deal better with lactic acid. Everyone can run easy due to the fact very low levels of lactic acid is within the muscles. It is actually the hydrogen ion within lactic acid which is the real culprit why we slow down in races. How do you race faster over 10 mile distances? Train at faster speeds.

Duh right? Easier said than done. We know what we ought to do to run a faster 5K to marathon race but are we really putting in the necessary work in training?

Take Your Time

7. Pace yourself

You have to pace yourself in training. No one starts off the first week of a 10 mile training plan doing an 8 to 10 mile tempo run. Additionally, you shouldn’t expect to run goal 10 mile race pace for even 4 miles early on.

It takes time for the body to adapt to the stress loads we place on it. The good thing is it always adapts but it does take time. You have to gradually increase the pace of your runs and lengthen the distance at which you conduct them.

Mix up your routine. Don’t just run on the roads or track. Consider running on a curved treadmill. This type of treadmill doesn’t run on electricity. Do you want a quick way to burn more calories and get a great treadmill workout in? Jump on one of those.

What Should A 10 Mile Training Plan For Beginners Look Like?

A 10 mile training for beginners should encompass some of the touch points we have discussed above. All runners, regardless of ability level can improve using the fundamentals we have discussed. That being said, everyone is different.

Your goal may not be a specific time you want to run. Perhaps you just want to complete the 10 mile distance. What should you do then? If your goal is to complete your first 10 mile road race I would focus more on building up your mileage.


What I have mentioned above works for beginners too but is more focused on athletes seeking to race 10 miles. Can you still run a great time off of mileage alone? Absolutely. If you run 40 to 50 miles a week that is well over the distance you are going to be racing at.

You will have built up a massive amount of stamina, strength and endurance simply by running easy miles and doing strides. I actually ran my best open 10-mile time of 51:29 off of mileage alone. It was quality miles, not a lot of “junk” miles but it worked.

Strength Work

8. Focus on core and strength work

You don’t have to be in the gym 7 days a week or for hours on end. It doesn’t take much strength work to run well over 10 miles. It is important to strengthen your core muscles as this keeps your posture strong during the race.

Push ups and using light weights for exercises such as lunges are great workouts for you to include in your tune up for the 10-mile race. You want to have a strong core and upper body to sustain not only the pace but your posture during the race. The majority of the world’s top runners do no more than push ups, sit ups and light weight lifting as their routine.

It is important to implement some form of light weight lifting into your preparation. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top in nature. Focus on the core muscles of the body that have to do with running i.e. glutes, core, hamstrings, calves and quadriceps and strengthen those areas. Two days a week should be sufficient.

Closing Thoughts

I’ve only scratched the surface on what it takes to run a fast 10 mile time. It takes a great deal of hard work, patience and a proper taper to run well. This goes for any race distance. A 10 mile training plan needs to incorporate a combination of both speed work as well as distance running into the schedule.

You can run a great 10 mile time off of running 3 days a week if you are a beginner. The more advanced runners are going to be focusing on specific workouts and splits. Although important, when starting off these are not as significant. The key to running and completing 10 miles is simply building your endurance over time.

Easy Mileage is Still Important

Anyone can run and finish a 10 mile road race with patience and the willingness to put in the mileage. You can build enormous strength off of running easy mileage and doing nothing else. It all depends on your specific goals. If you are just getting started in the sport of running what I have covered here can help you.

Lastly, the key is being patient, gradually increasing the length of your long runs, spending some time running at faster speeds and letting your body adapt. These are just a few tips that any legitimate 10 mile training plan should cover. Is there more to running the 10 mile road race effectively? Yes, but will end for now.

I hope this post has been beneficial to you. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have a question or concern about your training or race. Make sure to visit the RunDreamAchieve Academy as I will be adding new courses there throughout this year into the future. You are also more than welcome to join our newsletter below.

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