Expert tRAINING tips from ATHLETE Jo Pavey
If you’re training for the Vitality London 10,000 then who better to learn from than the inspirational Jo Pavey – who became European 10,000m champion at the age of 40, just months after giving birth to her second child.
As well as that achievement, Pavey won bronze in the 5000m at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and continued at the highest level, qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics, her fifth appearance at the Games.
We caught up with Jo to get her top 10K training tips, which are especially useful if you’re a confident, experienced 10K runner looking to improve your time…
Enjoy the event!
“I love 10K as a distance. It’s one where you can get out there and go for it – it’s so exciting running on the road with thousands of other participants. To run on the streets of London is extra exciting and you have the atmosphere, people running for important charities and others working on personal goals.
“From my memory of doing the event, I loved the course and found it extremely exciting with a great atmosphere.”
Mix your training sessions
“When training for a 10K, it’s important to do tempo runs, threshold runs and a lot of intervals. For me, it’s also important to keep track intervals in check even if racing on the road – having run for many years I know where I’m at when I do track repetitions. That’s when I put in the hard graft and I know what targets to aim for in relation to what shape I’m in. Ialways find track running really important whatever distance.”
Try running intervals
“If you don't want to do track running you can still do measured stuff on the roads like interval training – 800m reps or mile reps for example. Some speedier work is good, like 400m and 200m efforts to get your leg speed going.
“Or you could try running three-minute efforts six to eight times with a short recovery, just to get some interval work in. Take between 90 seconds and two minutes for your recovery.
“You want to have speed in there; if you’ve got a bit of speed it can help the race pace feel easier. My real core idea is to have the endurance from doing the longer reps as you can never use your speed at the end of the race if you don’t have the endurance. Speed is the icing on the cake.
“Doing interval work gives you the chance to run quicker than race pace, which is beneficial as it makes race pace more comfortable. You don’t want to be running flat out, you’ve got a long way to go.”
Up the tempo
“Within a training week it’s useful to have some time to do a tempo run, where you have a little warm up then run 15 to 20 minutes at a pace you feel is comfortably hard – but not flat out. That way you practise the sustained amount of effort you’ll need in a race, then do a quick warm down.
“Try to do a long run each week, not as long as if you were training for a marathon but further than the event distance, maybe up to 10 miles. You don’t need to start running 18 miles or anything like that. Just more than 10K.”
Don’t neglect your recovery
“Have days when you do easier runs to recover and take some days off. If you’re very new to running don’t feel like you have to run every day. You don’t want to get injured, so you have to build up gradually. And remember to taper down a week before the event. Don’t try to make up for lost time, or all your earlier hard work will be wasted.”
Listen to your body
“I used to dwell on sessions and worry about achieving target times, but being a busy mum I don’t have time to worry about that now. I train harder than ever but I just get on and do the session and try as hard as I can. I can only try. My training regime has changed in that I just get on and do it, I listen to my body more and that really helped me last year.
“Last year I put more longer reps in there, listened to my body and prioritised the key elements of training, making sure I got those right. Because I was coming back from having a baby, that was important.”
Learn from experience
“I used to get more injuries when I was younger. One benefit of getting older is that you gain experience. I’ve learnt things over the years that it would have helped to know when I was younger; it would have helped me avoid some of the injuries I had.
“You can never totally avoid injuries but I used to be injured more often so I’ve learnt to prioritise important parts of training and make more sensible decisions. I also enjoy running more now. I’ve got to a stage in my life where I really enjoy it. Psychologically, I really wanted to be a mum and I now feel very happy in my life – that’s helped me enjoy my running; it’s made me more motivated.’