So you want to run your fastest 5k? It doesn’t just happen, you know. It takes planning, hard work, and dedication to train properly for a 5k race.
A little internet research will show many marathon training plans, quite a few half marathon plans, and not too many 5k plans. I take it back. Many beginner 5k plans, not so many “I want to set a PR” plans. So what’s up with that? Do people just go out and run fast?
Well, obviously it’s not as simple as that. It may not be as exciting as marathon training, but it does take training to run your fastest 5k.
Run Your Fastest 5k
Here are 10 tips that really will help you get faster, and, unless, like me your PR days are behind you, you can your fastest 5k.
Set a Goal
Since this information is designed for runners who are experienced at running and have done at least a few 5ks, you should have an idea of what your time goal is for the 5k. This is important because many of your workouts will be designed around your goal race pace.
Build a Base
Your body can adapt to speed and intensity training in 4-8 weeks, but I suggest spending about four weeks building a base before you start your actual training plan. Building up to 25-30 miles per week, with a long run of 8-10 miles before you introduce speed training will give you a solid foundation for success.
Follow a Plan
Either find a training plan, make your own, or hire a coach to design a personalized plan. A good plan should have most of these tips worked into it. Depending on your current fitness level, take 8-12 weeks to prepare to run your fastest 5k.
Interval training on the track will improve your VO2 Max and help you run faster. Aim for about 3-4 miles of interval work. You can do 400 meters at slightly faster than your goal 5k pace, 800 meters at goal pace, or mix it up with different distances. The goal is to run fast (but not all-out), with brief rest, and work hard.
Here’s one of my favorite interval workouts:
Tempo runs help increase your lactate threshold, which will help you run faster for a longer period of time. You know that feeling when your legs (and lungs!) start to burn? That’s the point when too much lactic acid accumulates, which will soon force you to slow down. Tempo runs, which are also called Lactate Threshold (or LT) runs, will make a big difference.
Here’s my favorite Tempo workout. For the purposes of 5k training, sustain your tempo pace for 2-4 miles.
Frank Shorter said that hill work is speed training in disguise, and it couldn’t be more true. Running hills will make you stronger, increase your fitness, and, in the end, make you faster. I suggest alternating tempo runs and hill runs, once a week.
Add Some Strides
Adding 6-8 sets of strides after an easy run can help improve your cadence, leg turnover, and running efficiency. They are also great as part of your warmup before a speed workout.
Strides are short accelerations for about 80-100 meters. Do a stride by gradually accelerating to about 85% of your maximum speed, hold that pace for about a third of the total stride distance, then decelerate for the final third. Catch your breath for about a minute, then do the next stride.
Take it Easy
Do not run hard all the time. Your body needs to recover from all the hard work, and easy runs will help you do that. Running easy is an important part of recovery. Running hard all the time will wear you down, and eventually slow you down as well. If your training plan or coach says to run easy, do it
Strength training is a great way to cross train. It gives your running muscles a rest, and will help you stay strong and balanced, which will protect you against injury.
A good training plan will have recovery worked in, so follow the plan and take your rest when you are told. Proper nutrition, getting enough sleep, and taking cues from your body are other ways to make sure that you recover correctly.
Take these tips, follow your plan, put in the work as well as the rest, and you will be well on your way to running your fastest 5k.
Now it’s time for…
The Running Coaches’ Corner
My weekly linkups! Please stop by and check out all of the great recipes, workouts, and information that all these awesome bloggers share every week!
Sunday Blog Hop with Jenn
Meatless Monday with Sarah and Deborah
Meatless Monday with Annmarie
Inspire Me Monday with Janice
Anything Goes with Marilyn
Bonnie, the Pin Junkie
Tip Tuesday with Debbie in Shape
Wild Workout Wednesday with Annmarie, Michelle, Sarah, and Angelena Marie
Wednesday Wisdom with Nanna’s Wisdom
The Running Coaches’ Corner with Rachel, Suz, Lora Marie, and Me!
The Blogger’s Pit Stop with Kathleen
Let’s Get Real with Karen.
Friday Fitness with Jill
Fitness Friday with Miranda