Use the 10/10/10 Method to Improve Your Marathon Time

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We all go through moments when we feel like no matter how hard we train, no matter how much we push ourselves, we just aren’t getting closer to reaching our goals or new PRs.

If you’re feeling stuck, it may be worth trying the 10/10/10 method to improve your marathon time.

Let’s delve into the specifics of this method, why it helps, and how you can start implementing it in your own training.

What Is the 10/10/10 Method?

The 10/10/10 method is a marathon race strategy.

It involves splitting your race into three sections, each one with a slightly different strategy. This is designed to get the best possible performance out of you!

If you’re wondering how 10+10+10 equals a marathon, it’s a touch deceiving. Technically, it means 10 miles + 10 miles + 10 kilometers, which equals 26 miles. That last 0.2 miles is on you!

If that’s confusing to you, you can think of it as the 10/10/6 method. On the other hand, if you use the metric system, you can call it the 16/16/10 method.

What Is the 10/10/10 Method Best For?

Like everything, this method isn’t for everyone. You should definitely examine your goals and your experience before deciding if it’s for you.

It’s a strategic, well-paced method that facilitates slow but steady progress. If you’re planning on smashing a crazy PR or achieving some super-fast time, it may not be the right way for you to train.

It’s also more appropriate for flat courses, as it’s based mainly on pace. You can definitely implement it for rolling, hilly courses, but we only recommend that for advanced runners who can adjust their approach to suit the elevations.

Pros and Cons of the 10/10/10 Method

As with every training method or strategy, there are pros and cons. Here’s what we feel about the 10/10/10 method.

Pros

  • Not difficult to implement
  • Effective way to progress
  • Helps you to cultivate awareness
  • Requires constant concentration

Cons

  • Harder to implement on hilly courses
  • Smaller margin for error
  • Can be confusing in terms of distances (miles vs kilometers)

How the 10/10/10 Method Works

The First 10 Miles

It’s tempting to fly out of the gates and try to get as many miles under your belt before your muscles start to give in. But that’s exactly what you’re not going to do with the 10/10/10 method.

Because the aim of this method is to optimize your pace throughout the race, you’ll be aiming to run at slightly less than your goal race pace for the first 10 miles.

It requires plenty of patience and mental strength. It can be super tough when you see others flying past you, and it’s highly tempting to keep up with them.

But at this point, you’re pacing yourself and conserving energy, so you can reach into your energy stash later to finish big.

The Second 10 Miles

When you reach your second 10, you want to increase your pace to your goal pace. Settle into this pace nicely, because you’ll stay there for the next 10 miles.

This is the pace you’ve really trained for, so it should feel much more comfortable than the first 10 miles. Rhythm is important here; you want to get into a nice place where you can zone out and just stay at this pace for the next while.

The Last 10 Kilometers / 6 Miles

The last section of the race is where you let go and really push yourself.

At this stage, those runners who were flying past you at the beginning are starting to fade. As you begin to pick up the pace, you’ll find yourself passing runner after runner.

This is where you race. Up your pace to above your goal marathon pace and let your feet do the talking. If you’ve done your first two stages the right way, you should find that you have more energy left in the tank than you were expecting.

Remember, this last section is also a fair bit shorter than the first two. You may be running at a faster pace than average, but it’s only for 6 miles. With that extra energy left behind, you should be able to absolutely nail this part of your race.

How to Train With the 10/10/10 Method

Varying your training can be extremely helpful to prepare you for running a marathon using this method.

Early on in your training, you should start implementing this type of race formula into your training. At least once a month, go for a long run that starts off easy and ends at your goal marathon pace.

It doesn’t need to be a full marathon distance. You can run 10 miles easy and 5 miles at your goal pace. When you’re used to this, start adding an even faster mile or two to the end of your run.

This way, you ease your body into the idea of easy, race pace, hard. As your training progresses, you can work your way up to running close to marathon-length training runs with this model.

Speedwork is also important. You’ll need to be able to push through those last minutes. Even though you’ve conserved energy in the first two stages, you’re likely to still be fatigued in those last moments. Speedwork helps you get used to pushing through the pain and aching legs.

Tempo runs, in which you slowly increase your pace across the run, can always be super helpful for this kind of training.

Summary

The 10/10/10 method isn’t for everyone, but it’s absolutely worth a try if you’re looking for a new way to boost your marathon performance. If you haven’t quite reached marathons yet, you can even try this in a half-marathon, using a 5/5/5 approach!

Ultimately, this method not only helps you push yourself to new heights in terms of performance but also helps you to build mental strength. It’s not easy!

But if you’re dedicated and serious about improving your marathon times, it’s well worth a try.

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AUTHOR

Shanna is a writer who runs... And cycles, jumps rope, and lifts weights. She lives in beautiful South Africa and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with other avid athletes.