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Five Ways to a Faster 10K Durham

It may sound like unconventional fitness advice but, if you want to run a faster 10K, you should probably train less. Why? We can use the latest training science to post a personal best.

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Five Ways to a Faster 10K

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Train less
It may sound like unconventional fitness advice but, if you want to run a faster 10K, you should probably train less. One US study showed that a three-day-a-week training programme produced significant gains in aerobic power. The runners were put on a training regime that consisted of just three carefully structured running workouts per week, and as a result showed a 4.8 per cent improvement in their VO2 max (the volume of oxygen your lungs can use). In a follow-up trial, 25 runners were put on a three-day-a-week marathon training schedule. After 16 weeks, 21 of the runners started the race; all finished, 15 with personal bests, and four of the remaining six ran faster than in their previous marathon.

Forget your footstrike
Don't worry about how your foot hits the ground. Instead, to increase your pace in a short space of time, focus on running economy and maintaining technique. A mostly Japanese research team published results of their study of 415 runners' footstrikes at a big half marathon. Nearly 75 per cent of all the runners were heelstrikers, which some experts have recently claimed is a slower way to run than landing and taking off on your forefoot. Even among the 50 fastest, who averaged five minutes per mile, the heelstrike percentage only fell to 62 per cent.

Breathe easy
There are lots of theories on the best way to breathe during running, but a study from Liverpool John Moores University showed that once exercise is moderately hard, the most efficient way of breathing in and out is the way that comes naturally - through the mouth, not the nose. This allows you to get more oxygen into your lungs to fuel your muscles.

Run uphill
Running uphill requires explosive use of your hamstrings, calf muscles and glutes. The strength and power gained translates into a longer, quicker and more efficient stride. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that twice-weekly hill workouts improved running economy by three per cent. Running uphill also forces your footstrike to occur directly under your centre of gravity. If you tend to over-stride, which is both common and performance-destroying, hill running will help you correct your form.

Do some combination sets
These sessions involve runs at various paces performed without recovery. Try something like four sets of 200/400/1,600/300 metres. This is a 10K-specific combination set that takes you to extreme levels of intensity and difficulty, preparing you for a new 10K PB. Warm up thoroughly, then begin with 200 metres at 800-metre pace. Slow to 5K pace for 400 metres before slowing again to 10K pace for 1,600 metres. Finish this 2,500m compound set with a 300-metre sprint. Repeat three more times, resting for three minutes between each effort.

Warming up and cooling down will also help you run faster. Here's how to stretch out properly.

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Five ways to a faster 10K

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