The following is admittedly a variation of a plan Greg McMillan has recommended for 10K training. The plan below is a bit more specific about mileage and off-week workouts, but does allow flexibility.
- This plan lasts a minimum of 8 weeks and presumes you already run at least 15 miles a week, at least 3-4 days a week, and at least two of your runs are 5 miles or more.
- If not, spend 2-4 weeks running at least that much, at an easy pace, before beginning this plan. The less running you currently do, the longer this plan needs to be.
- Don’t even begin the workouts below until you’ve been running 15+ miles 3+ days each week, without trouble, for at least a couple weeks. Week 1 of the below plan only begins the week after you’re able to do so.
- Pick a goal 8K pace that is attainable, whether you’ve attained it before or it’s within 15-20 seconds per mile (9-12 seconds per kilometer) of a pace you’ve run at this distance or longer. Don’t pick a pace that you can’t hold for at least a couple miles uninterrupted.
Starting in week 1, do the below workout once during each designated week. Ideally, do the workout in the middle of the week, but you can pick any day of the week that works best for you:
Wk 1 – 5 x 1 mile (1600m), at goal pace.
Wk 2 – 5×400, comfortably hard pace, rest 2min between.
Wk 3 – 4 x 1.25 mile (2000m), at goal pace.
Wk 4 – 5×400, comfortably hard pace, rest 2min between.
Wk 5 – 3 x 1.67 mile (2700m), at goal pace.
Wk 6 – 5×400, comfortably hard pace, rest 2min between.
Wk 7 – 2 x 2.5 mile (4000m), at goal pace.
Wk 8 – No speed workout! All easy running.
If you can nail goal pace in the Week 7 workout, you absolutely will nail your goal time.
- It’s okay for the mile+ interval distance to be a little long or a little short. If you can run them on a track, measuring is very easy (one reason I mention the metric distances!). Obviously, trying to do these intervals on a road or trail doesn’t make measuring the right distance easy. The goal is to sustain your pace for each one, so just pick a stretch of path that’s close to the needed distance.
- If you find yourself falling more than 10 seconds per mile (6 seconds per kilometer) short of your goal pace during the workouts in weeks 1 and 3, you need to dial back your pace expectations.
- Don’t do the 5×400 reps at max effort, but definitely give a stride-fast effort. Go fast enough that finishing is tough, but hold back enough that you could keep going another 400 meters after the finish if you had to. Let feel be your guide on these reps. And yes, 5×400 may not be a lot for many of you. This should be a quick and easy speed workout.
- Aside from the key workouts, you want to do some easy running at least a couple other days per week, probably more like 3-5 other days per week. The fewer days you run, the longer those easy runs need to be. If nothing else, do an easy run 2 days before the speed workout and 2 days after the speed workout. Otherwise, do whatever easy running you want.
- Don’t skip workouts unless you’re rather sick, or you’re injured. If you’re not going to do a workout, at least run a couple miles that day.
As always: Eat well, sleep well, every day during this training plan. You are the sum of your habits. Take care of yourself.