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Is Speed Work Necessary for Training for a 10k?

Westside for skinny bastards has a strength and speed template that includes a speed day (e.g. 4 x 40 yards with full recovery). I am adapting the template to use as part of my 10k race training, and future obstacle course races I plan to do. Would speed work help in 10k training or should I replace the speed day with interval conditioning or a tempo run. The template is:
Monday: max effort upper, easy run 3 miles
Tuesday: speed development
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: max effort lower, conditioning
Friday, Repetition effort upper, easy run (4-6 miles)
Saturday: conditioning (long run 5-8 miles)

My goals are to improve strength (specifically deadlift, pull-ups, and overhead presses) and endurance.

Since your weekly mileage is high already, I would stick to the speed work. Your endurance should be fine, but the speed work will help to increase your pace.

I’m going to disagree with your volume being enough. It is if you just want to be able to run a 10K without walking and maybe tp maintain an established performance for a while If you want to do speed work for some other task then sure but if you’re doing speed work to improve your 10k then no because you’re no. You’re most likely haven’t developed the much more predominate other skills to run a fast 10k yet

While a form of speed work should be beneficial, I’m not sure how much you’re going to get out of 4x40. running 400s would be better imo if you’re preparing for a 10k.

A 10k is about 6.2 miles. He is running over that on Saturdays and around that on Friday. He should have more than enough endurance to run the whole thing at a steady pace. Speed work will help increase the pace.

I agree. 4x40 seems a little too low

A 10Kl is only about 5 to 10% anaerobic so chose your priority wisely.

I think the basic answer you are looking for is basically, no.

I mean if you were running a much shorter distance like say 400 or maybe 800 meters I could see more the value in it, though 10k is a pretty much an ENDURANCE distance, so running distances mostly between say 5-12k I think is much more where it’s at.

I looked it up, a 10k is about 10% anaerobic and 90% aerobic. I’ll drop the speed work as I’m all about the minimal effective dose and 80/20 principle.

I’m a little late to this party, but what the heck…

Just to finish a 10k? No, speed work is absolutely not necessary.

To improve your race times? Yes, speed work will help most people…with two caveats. 1) Your concept of “speed work” (40 yard dashes) is a whole lot different from the type speed work that 10K runners would do (400 / 800 repeats). 2) your overall running volume is extremely low for someone planning to race a 10K. There’s a distinction between running for competition vs. just running for completion. You’re probably much closer to the latter than the former.


Spoken like someone who has never seriously raced a long distance event. Merely running the approximate race distance twice a week with one other running day is extremely low volume for someone that’s training for performance at a distance of 5k-10k.

Also, nobody gets to the finish of a 10K and thinks the problem was a lack of 40-yard dashes. Or really even 400 repeats, to tell the truth. Most everyone wishes they would have run more base miles.

Again, I think the key distinction here is how much the 10K matters to the OP relative to his other performance goals (it’s not really clear; he just mentions that he wants to improve strength and endurance). If the goal is merely “be able to run the whole thing at an OK pace without dying afterwards” then sure, the total volume he’s running is fine, and he can do some speed work just for jollies if he thinks it will be fun (although I suspect the performance gains will be relatively trivial). If it’s actually to be genuinely fast - say, under 40 minutes - his mileage is laughably low, and that’s far more likely to be his limiting factor than the absence of speed work.

When someone suggested that a six mile long day was sufficient for a six mile race I was at a lose.

The OP should look up 10k run plans.


The template in the original post was modified from westside for skinny
bastards 3, hence the speed day. You’re right, typically
speed work in 5k and greater consists of 400-1600 meter
repeats. I’m dropping the speed work for now and will
focus my running on just building volume. After I establish
a consistent 15 miles per week I’ll add the speed work in.

My goal is to be genuinly fast, with decent strength.
For the next few months I will focus on building up my
aerobic base through mostly easy miles 5-6 days per week, as well as follow
a simple three days per week strength training routine
dropping unnesessary volume and sticking with core lifts
only (deadlifts, front squats, pullups, pushups, and overhead

Thanks, that is really helpful in understanding where you’re coming from. I have trained at both extremes - as a pure strength athlete (college football offensive tackle), then a pure endurance athlete (raced distances from 5K up to marathon on the “good enough to win my age group at local races” level), and then a hybrid for awhile. It is really tough to do both on a truly high level, so I was trying to figure out if you want to be

a) runner who can go into the weight room without embarrassing himself

b) lifter who can run a few miles alongside hobby-joggers without dying

It sounds like you’re a little closer to A than you are to B. Am I correct?

If so, then I think your chosen approach is reasonable (build your running volume while sticking with a 3 day, core-lifts-only program). To be a really fast 10K runner, you’ll have to run quite a bit more than 15 miles per week, I’m afraid…I don’t know just how fast you’re hoping to get (i.e. if you just want to get under 45 minutes, that might happen at 15 miles per week with some judicious use of speed work and a little carryover fitness from your lifting; if you want to get under 40 minutes, that number will have to be somewhat higher, probably 25-30 miles; and if you want to get significantly faster than that…you’ll probably need to rethink this whole venture a little).

For what it’s worth, I ran a 41-minute 10K in fall 2009 weighing around 205 pounds off a steady diet of 15-20 mile weeks. A couple years later, at my absolute fastest, I ran a 38-minute 10K off more like 45-50 miles per week. All of the people I ran with (who were all faster than me) ran a good deal more than that. Just one anecdote, but gives you an idea of the realistic curve you might expect. Given your description re: the minimal effective dose and 80/20 principle, you’ll probably find a sweet spot around that 15-20 miles per week range, which might get you fast enough to not-embarrass yourself but probably should still leave some room to lift as well.

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I’m a runner first, mostly because there are more opportunities for competition and I like trail running and obstacle course races and similar adventure type races.

It seems that the best way to effectively do concurrent
training is to have most of your runs be at an easy
or moderate pace, with hard tempos or intervals used
sparingly or at the end of a weight session. It’s all
about trial and error.

For your 10k you ran in 2009, was it mostly high intensity
or mostly easy miles?

Mostly easy miles with one interval day per week. I’ll give the “program” that I was doing with a heavy, heavy disclaimer that this is by no means an expert opinion - I didn’t have any real grand planning that went into it, this was just sort of the routine I fell into:

Sunday: long run (8 miles)
Monday: lift
Tuesday: easy run (3-4 miles)
Wednesday: lift
Thursday: easy run (3-4 miles)
Friday: lift
Saturday: intervals (five 400’s around 5K pace)

Shortly after running that 41-minute 10K in 2009, I joined up with a local running group of mostly fast people (the fastest girl from the group just recently ran in the Olympic Trials marathon; most of the others are the guys and gals you see winning at your local 5K’s and 10K’s, guys running 5K’s in the 15-17 minute range, girls running in the 17-19 minute range) and started to learn more about all this stuff. Incidentally, my little program above was probably just about perfect for where I was at the time (I probably couldn’t have handled more miles right away; the body needs a little time to adjust before you just up and run 40 miles per week). So maybe you should look at it this way - do one race season training as you currently have it laid out, take stock of how it goes, and then for your next race season you can appropriately scale miles up a little bit where practical (maybe to a 10-mile long run, two 5-6 mile runs during the week and an interval day with five or six 800’s around your 10K pace).

For what it’s worth…I think you can get to a modestly-kinda-sorta-competitive-ish point with a 15-20 mile per week routine, and don’t want to discourage you from racing at all, just trying to give you a realistic perspective. Most people who are highly competitive on the “local” level will be running more like 40 miles per week, and honestly most of the people in the group I was part of were running 60-70 miles per week. But the 80/20 principle definitely applies to running - you will make substantial EARLY improvement from that 15-20 mile per week level, and after that each additional mile brings somewhat diminishing returns.

I’d also note that if you’re into trail running and obstacle/adventure races you may benefit from a little more variety than just standard pavement-pounding miles. Make sure some of your regular weekday runs are very hilly, or perhaps devote a whole day to doing hills instead of intervals. The hills can serve a similar purpose to intervals, and might be more useful to you in the setting of trail / adventure races than 800-meter repeats.