1 - Be honest with yourself
Whether you want to break the world record or just to beat your training partner in the next race you need to know what the demands of the event are and what are your strengths and weaknesses. To improve your performance your training must be designed to work on and improve your weaknesses but also to maintain and perhaps even improve your strengths.

So decide how fit you are now, and how much time you have available to train. Having done this, set yourself a realistic target that sets not just a target time but leaves you long enough to train for your 10K.

2 - Understand the demands of the event
Whatever the target time, you will have to be able to run the distance at a pace without stopping. This will require you to develop your aerobic engine (the ability to use oxygen efficiently for at least as long as your race time). To help do this you will need to be able to run for longer than your race time at a pace slightly slower than your target race pace. You will also need to learn to run at race pace.

There will be times in all races, for example in a fast finish or when maintaining pace uphill in the middle of a race, that the demands on the body will be greater than can be maintained aerobically and you will need to train the body to withstand lactic acid accumulation and be able to clear that from the muscles efficiently.

The more efficiently you run, the less energy you require to move the body at your target pace. Therefore, part of training will need to be spent on the technique of running.

This will also help when you need that added sprint at the end of the race to outkick the closest competitors.

To complete a 10K race in 30 or even 60 minutes requires certain strength. This is not only the strength required to perform so many steps at the desired pace, but also to keep the good body posture that will make running efficient.

3 - Designing your training programme
It's often easier to agree your training programme with a good coach. However, if you are doing this on your own, the starting point will be identifying your strengths and weaknesses and then planning training sessions that work to improve these into your available time.

The training week must balance out the different training blocks to allow you to not only train but to recover sufficiently for the next session. This regime must also allow for the stresses from other aspects of your life such as work or education.

4 - The long run. How long do you need to be able to run for?
Most runners thinking about tackling a 10K will probably already have a regular routine of steady running. For those that don't, it's worth spending a period building up a solid running base before starting the more stressful sessions at, and faster than, race pace. Every person needs to find the distances that suit them in terms of total running time/mileage and length of longest runs.

Advice from coaches varies but a long run for experienced runners of up to twice to two-and-a-half times race distance is not unusual (12 to 15 miles). This would be run at an easy pace.

Less experienced runners should start with shorter distances and increase this gradually. It may be easier for them to build this up by running easily for up to two-and-a- half times the target race time.

5 - Race pace running
This type of running is probably the most important for improving your personal best. Long distances of up to the race distance can be broken down into sections and run at race pace. An example of this might be to divide the race into 25 runs of 400m, each run at the desired race pace. The recovery between the 400m sections can be reduced as fitness improves. This type of training is quite stressful and as hard as racing. So just as you wouldn't race each day, there must be good recovery built in after these types of session.

6 - Threshold running
If you train at too fast a speed, lactic acid will accumulate in the body. Training just below the pace at which the lactate accumulates is sometimes described as threshold running. Runs at this pace are believed to improve the ability to race at a fast pace. The length of these runs can also be built up with time.

A pace of approximately half-marathon speed is often a good target for runners not used to this type of training. More advanced training programmes may include sessions that combine both race pace and threshold running within the same training unit.

7 - Strength
The strength programme for a runner tackling 10K will depend on their specific needs and the time they have available for this section of training. The sports scientists tell us that being stronger for any sport will improve performance. However, in the endurance events, strength gain must be relevant to the event. All runners will benefit from a strong core to maintain posture while running.

This can be achieved in a variety of ways and most coaches will recommend some strength element to the training programme.

8 - Technique
Running technique should not be neglected and this can be established and maintained as a skill by building running drills into the training plan. This is worth including as a separate session but, due to time constraints, most runners will build this into their preparation for the higher quality sessions.

9 - Mental strength
Of equal importance to all the elements above, is building the confidence that, through your training, will make you successful in your target race. Being able to picture achieving your goal and overcoming negative thoughts while training and racing are important skills that must also be developed.

10 - The coach
Only you can decide whether you need a coach to help you balance all the training elements. This is a very personal area but I would advise the less experienced or novice athletes to initially link with a coach, to help plan and monitor the programme, and to provide advice on technique and strength training.