The Runkeeper’s sub-60 minute 10K plan: app-solutely!

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 4.52.30 PMI’m about 6 minutes away from getting my 10K down to 60 minutes. For those of you who do 10K in 40-50 minutes, a sub-60 10K may seem like a breeze. But for me, from where I’m at now, it feels almost impossible. It means I need to sustain an average pace of 6 minutes per kilometre for 10 whole kilometers. And to me, that’s fast.

But I’ve got a trusty app that promises to help me, and I’m trying to stay positive about the whole thing because so many people say it’s within my reach. Runkeeper is a run-tracking app that, like most other run tracking apps and among other features, has built-in plans. I’m doing the free sub-60 10K plan. As regular readers may know, I’m keeping it low-key this summer. So the idea of an app that tells me when and how far to run, plays some music while I do, talks to me along the way, and reminds me the day before of what’s coming up appealed to me.

Each week of the plan includes four runs. So far, it’s been easy because each of the runs has been assigned as “slow” and they’ve all been relatively short, with the longest being yesterday’s 6.4K (I think they just converted things from miles, which is why all of the runs are strange distances like 3.2K, which is 2 miles, 4.8K, which is 3 miles, and 6.4K, which is 5 miles). The good news: after one week, I’m on track. I did what the app told me to do.

Four workouts down, 57 to go! Yep. There are 61 workouts in total, over 16 weeks. Officially that will take me to November 7. My goal race is the MEC 10K the week before, on Halloween.

Speed work starts tomorrow: after a 4.8K slow run, I’m doing 2x 20 second intervals FAST with 2:00 in between. And then I’m done. I like the psychology of the approach: small, manageable increases in distance and effort. That’s my favourite game (see my post about doing less).

The main challenge for me, besides the sheer fact of trying to get faster, is to run continuously without walk breaks. I’ve been using the Running Room model of 10-1 intervals, and though I like it and I know that it has a lot to recommend it, I am experimenting with losing the walk breaks during this training.

You can pay for a super duper version of Runkeeper, either by the month or the year, that has all sorts of bells and whistles: more stats, more training plans, a “DJ” for your music, more analytics, workout comparisons and so forth. But I’m happy with the basic, which logs and tracks my workouts. Since I’m aspiring only for the sub-60 10K, the plan they’re offering is just fine with me. If I want more data and comparison, I can always get that from my Garmin on Garmin connect.

I’m interested to hear from others who have used apps or training plans on their own to achieve goals. If you’ve got some experience doing that, please share about it in the comments. Meanwhile, with 13 weeks to go I can’t say yet how successful I’m going to be with the app.  As with anything, the first hurdle is always sticking to it. I’ll report back next month about how it’s going. For now, I’m feeling good about it.  Wish me luck!

14 thoughts on “The Runkeeper’s sub-60 minute 10K plan: app-solutely!

  1. I know you have commented before that I was not slow. I always thought I was but it is true that my speed has increased quite a bit. I used to take 50 minutes to run 5 km. Now it takes me 35-40 minutes. I did not use an app to achieve that nor was I even aiming at increasing my speed. But I do believe that the interval training I have done has helped with this. My interval training consisted of running on the 200m track at school, running 2/3 at regular pace and sprinting 1/3 and then doing multiple laps of that.

    1. Intervals are the best for speed work. And the track is a controlled environment. Hills are good too. When you turned on the power when we were in Ottawa you ran really fast. If you can sustain that for longer I bet you can do a 30 minute 5K (if you care).
      I was training with the triathlon club at the track and i quite liked it. I was faster on the track than anywhere else. But for this summer I felt I needed to do something where I could just start from home.

      1. The track at Brock is dusty so not ideal for asthmatic me. But it is true that I have been doing a lot of hills recently and that certainly helped. This morning I went out and did 5.6 km with hills in 40 minutes!

  2. I will definitely have to check this out….I am currently using the C25K app which is an 8 week training to run a 5K or 3.2 miles. I am not a runner so I needed an app to pace myself. Right now I am on week 6 and it seems to be working quite well. Yesterday I ran 20 minutes straight…something I never thought I could do. Once you complete the 5K training it prompts you to download the 10K then eventually a half marathon and a full marathon. What entices me about the app you are talking about though is there is speed training involved. I am going to check it out asap!

    1. It’s great that you’re enjoying your introduction to running. 20 minutes straight is HUGE! Congrats! Definitely get comfortable with it before you start speed work. But from what I see already, the app I’m using is pretty gradual. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Go Tracy! Speed is a fun goal.

    I’ve got one worry about these apps though. I think they set unreasonable expectations. If you follow steps a, b, c, then you can do d. But that’s not true for everybody. We vary an incredible amount in our responsiveness to athletic training. Yes, there’s non responders and super responders but also the full range in between. Some people need only three weeks, couch to 5 km, others need 12.

    All bodies are different. Be patient.

    It’s one advantage an actual coach has over an app. She can get to know how your body responds to training and push the right amount.

    1. I know that the app doesn’t guarantee a sub-60 10K, but it gives prompts for speed work and is a reasonable plan for anyone trying to gain some speed. I confess that I just don’t want to work with a coach right now. I’m enjoying the freedom this summer of not having a lot of commitments.

      1. I get that. And for sure, enjoy the freedom. But I worry the free apps discourage people, not you, who are slow responders. So what if takes you twelve weeks to 5 km rather than six weeks? Just because you can’t do something in x weeks, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

      2. True enough. I agree that it’s probably best to come to these things with a bit of experience already, but so many are pitched at beginners with nothing else to go on.

  4. I wonder if they have a sub-50 minute plan. It wasn’t too long ago that I never thought I’d be under 60 minutes (training with my 58year old mum, neither did she). Less than 2 years later we managed to crack that and have gone just under 55 mins. Now 50 is the “unobtainable” goal! You’ll do it I’m sure 🙂

    1. Wow! That’s amazing. Thanks for the encouragement. I’m not sure whether they have apps for other goals (not among the freebies, I can say for sure). I’m sure any app with speed work will achieve speed increases.

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