Even pacing, or better yet, negative splitting the race (running the second half faster than the first) is the best way to reach your sub 40min 10km. Here’s how.
If you’ve trained well then the last thing you want is to jeopardise a good 10k performance by employing poor race tactics. Even the simplest tactical errors can potentially cost you minutes and be the source of much post-race frustration.
Warm-up for a 10K
You should arrive at the race about 60 minutes (or more) prior to the start time. This will allow you to settle down, find the bathrooms and get in a good warm-up. Run a very easy 15-20 mins, just like you do before all your hard runs, 10 minutes of easy stretching and then 3 x 30 sec strides starting about 35-45 minutes before the race.
Overall 10K race strategy
You should focus on running a patient and conservative race over the first mile and then attack the course for the last mile.
Interestingly, every world record from the 1500 meters to the marathon has been set running negative splits – running the first half of the race slightly slower than the second half.
This means that if you want to ensure that you run the fastest time possible, you don’t want to run the 800 or mile too fast. With the adrenaline and competition, this can be difficult and will require focus. Luckily, you’ve had lots of practice with the pacing, so use your internal clock and your effort to measure.
First 2 miles (First 3KM)
You should target a pace around 5-10 seconds per mile slower than your goal race pace the first 2 miles. Use the pace calculator above to determine the exact pace.
Remember that it will feel “slow” and you might be getting passed by people you want to beat. While it is mentally difficult, this is by the most effective way to run a race and you’ll tear by those people during the last mile.
Miles 2-5 (KM 3-8)
At 2 miles or so, slightly increase your pace and start looking around and engage the competitors around you.
Find a group that is running your pace or a little faster and latch on. Try to relax and keep your focus on staying with the group, not your splits. Use the group and the people around you to help you relax and take your mind off the distance ahead.
This is the hardest part of the race as it requires a lot of mental focus and fortitude. Be aware that you need to increase your effort to maintain the same pace or run faster as the race goes on. As you get more tired, it gets more difficult to keep running faster, so you have to try harder.
The pace is going to start getting hard around 4 miles; it’s part of racing the 10k, so prepare for it mentally.
Keep your mind and body relaxed. Look within yourself and focus on you. Think confident thoughts and repeat confident mantras to yourself; “I am fast, this feels good” or “I am strong”. Every time you feel tired or feel the pace slip, repeat to yourself that you need to refocus and concentrate and get back on pace.
Last Mile (Final 2km)
With 1 mile to go, keep your head up and start to try and catch people in front of you. Pick one person and focus solely on reeling them in, nothing else. As you pass them, surge and put your eyes on the next person and repeat. Imagine tying a fishing line to their back and reeling them in. Kick hard the last mile and finish fast!