10K Tempo Training Workouts

By Rick Morris

10K Tempo Trail Run

10K tempo training workouts are fun workouts. The tempo pace is an enjoyable running intensity because you’re able to get into a good rhythm and cruise along at a quick, lively pace. It’s not so fast that you encounter painful levels of fatigue, nor so slow that you become impatient. Since it’s a fun run, why not run in an enjoyable location? This is a classic tempo workout that you do on the soft and varied surface of a mountain, country or urban trail. Always start your workouts with a warm up.

  • Description: Approximately 10 kilometers on a trail
  • Pace: About 15 to 20 seconds slower than 10K race pace.
  • Recovery: None – this is a steady state run with no recovery

10K Progressive Tempo Run

Running at the same pace for your entire workout can be a bit tedious. This is a progressive tempo run in which you gradually increase your pace throughout your training session. Not only does this add some variety to your tempo workout, it also provides a gradual warm-up and improves your ability to change and increase pace during both your workouts and actual races. You can do this tempo workout on the track, road or trail.

  • Description: 10 kilometer progressive run. Start your workout at about 30 seconds slower than your 10K pace. Gradually increase your pace so that you’re moving along at 10K pace for the final ½ mile of this 10K tempo run. Use your own judgment on when to change pace, but try to make your increases smoothly and gradually throughout your tempo session.
  • Pace: Progresses from 30 seconds per mile slower than your 10K race pace to right at 10K race pace
  • Recovery: None

10K Tempo Fartlek Run

A fartlek workout is a fun run in which you vary your pace at will. This is an unstructured 10K tempo run in which you vary your pace throughout your run. Have fun with this one. Change your pace frequently but at your own will. This type of workout is best on a trail, but can also be done on the road or track.

  • Description: 10K kilometers at various paces. Change your pace throughout the workout. There is no real structure to this tempo run. The only requirements are that you change your pace frequently and have a good time.
  • Pace: Varies between 30 seconds per mile slower than 10K race pace and right at 10K race pace.
  • Recovery: No recovery other than the frequent change of pace

3 – 2 – 1 Tempo Run

This 10K tempo run is similar to the 10K progressive run, except it’s more structured and is best performed on a track.

  • Description: 6 miles on a track. Start with 3 miles at about 30 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace, then speed up to 15 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace for 2 miles. Finish this 6 mile tempo run with 1 mile at 10K pace.
  • Pace: The first 3 miles at 30 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace, the second 2 miles at 15 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace and the final mile at 10K pace.
  • Recovery: No recovery

10K Tempo Hills

Tempo runs are usually associated with mostly flat terrain where you can “cruise” along at a moderate pace. You can also do tempo runs on hilly terrain. The hills provide the added benefit of improving your running strength and economy. This workout is best on hilly trails. You can also do this tempo session on a treadmill.

  • Description: 3 to 8 miles over hilly, rolling terrain or on a treadmill. If you do this run on a treadmill, vary the treadmill elevation between 3% and 8%. When you are running the hills, adjust your pace so that your effort level remains stable. Your effort level on the hills should feel like you are running at just slower than 10K pace. Keep in mind that your actual pace will be even slower due to the incline.
  • Pace: Effort level that feels slightly easier than 10K pace
  • Recovery: No recovery

5K Repeats

This is a tempo workout that you can adapt to your fitness and experience level

  • Description: 2 to 5 x 5K repeats. Run 5000 meter repeats at about 15 to 20 seconds slower than your 10K race pace. Less experienced runners should start with 2 repeats, while runners with more experience may do 4 or more repeats.
  • Pace: 15 to 20 seconds per mile slower than 10K race pace
  • Recovery: 5 minutes of passive rest between each repeat

Classic Tempo Run

This is the classic tempo run that is used for all race distances.

  • Description: 4 to 20 miles depending upon your goal and experience level. A good distance range for 10K runners is between 6 and 12 miles.
  • Pace: About 20 seconds per mile slower than 10K race pace
  • Recovery: No recovery