I came on to these very same forums a couple of years ago as I was just starting out running and had a vague aim of running 10k in sub40. My 10k time at that point was around 47 minutes, with near zero specific running training. I was just fairly active, played football, hockey and rode my bike to work etc.
Following the advice I got here I slowly upped my mileage (by 10% per week) until I was running a long run (10-13 miles / 80 mins) on a Sunday, with at least one speed session, one tempo 10k and an easy 10k each week, with the occasional hill repeats thrown in for good measure. This got me slowly down to 39:52 within around 12 months, doing approx 25 miles per week.
I then just continued this, trying to keep the training consistent but upping my mileage slightly to 35/40 miles per week, and my current 10k time is 37:30. I expect to do 36:?? this year.
So in answer to your question, it's perfectly possible to run sub 40 but you need to put in the miles, effort and the specific speed/hill/tempo sessions and give it time.
PhilPub - thanks yes I was going to try the 400m again on its own and not straight after doing the 200m like last time! also going to give 800 and 1500 a shot. My 1 mile's not great though - 5:08 - so should prob stick to the shorter distances?! I def want to get my 400 time down to 53ish.
Alehouse - yeah dad is pretty good : ) thanks. I hear the BAC training is pretty good but an hours round trip for me. I've been to a few track sessions with Poole AC which are good.
So almost exactly two years since my original post, I have gone from:
10k Jan 2013: 44:05 Dec 2014: 38:19
5k Jan 2013: 20:21 Dec 2014: 17:56
Haven't followed one particular schedule. Just tried to consistently run 20-25 miles per week, fitting it in when I can, with at least one 'long run' and one hills or speed session included p/w. Even turned up for a local athletics open event, as a way of doing a speed session and something a bit different, running the 200m (23.8 secs) and 400m (56 secs).
Documented all my training from the last year at www.trainingarunner.com so I could keep track of it! Hope all the above helps someone
Next targets - sub 17:30 5k and 37 10k - It never ends!!
Thanks JFB, I only started running properly a couple of years ago so it'll be a while before I get that cumulative effect. I can corroborate your anecdote - My dad is 61 and only runs a few times a week but has been running for a long while. He does an 85min half, a sub 18 5k and sub 38 10k! So that long term effect must be true.
The Mentalist - I always have a couple of rest days and mix it up with swimming and cycling. My local Parkrun is Poole.