Four tips on 10K Race Strategy

Here are my best tips for a great 10k race strategy. No matter how you cut it, running a 10k (6.2 miles) is pretty long. No, it’s not a marathon, but it’s the longest outdoor track event. When you are running on a 400 meter track, you have to run the oval 25 times. Before you even think about racing one, you had better be in pretty good shape.

The 10k is the distance for a lot of men’s collegiate cross country races including the Division One NCAA Championships. A lot of the great runners in America today were once NCAA champions in cross country.

Let’s get down to the best way to run a great 10k.

1. Run your race. There are no flukes in running.

You can’t miraculously run under 30:00 minutes if you haven’t trained hard or approached that time before. Don’t go out real hard and expect you will be feeling great in the last 2000 meters. It won’t happen.

2. Run at pace. If you want to run a 10k in 34:00, then you’d better shoot for a time under 17:00 at the 5k mark. On the track, running a 10k has a natural rhythm. You have to find that quick, but tolerable pace and hang in there. Try to stay focused on running smooth and relaxed. Quick bursts of speed to cover a move another runner made will only burn you up in the long run. If you’re approaching the last 1000 meters, then you can get after it, but try and stay steady and smooth with your energy distribution before then.

3. Don’t run too many. A 10k is long. You can’t expect to race one every week and consistently get better. If you can, pick certain races and or places that you think will help you to continue to improve. When you run too many longer races, you risk injury or racing burnout.

4. Run relaxed. Even when the Olympic runners are pushing it to the max, they are still focused on being smooth and fluid with their running form. When you tense up any muscles in your body, you are slowing down. I always have to remind myself during races to be “relaxed and fast.” I can feel too much tension sometimes in my neck and shoulders during a race or hard workout. This is because I am forcing myself to run fast instead of simply striding down the track. Running a 10k involves energy conservation. Being tense wastes a lot of necessary fuel for your fire. Running very fast is a delicate balance of speed and grace, not strain and pain.

I hope some of these 10k race strategy tips help you. The best piece of advice I can offer you is to stay positive. Running is physically and mentally tough. Stay positive and you might have more fun and run faster. Good luck!

- Written by David Tiefenthaler

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