It’s time for week two of 5k Friday! This plan will help you train for and run (really run!) your first 5k! (Missed week one? Click here to get started!) I hope that you are feeling pretty good. Any aches and pains? If so, make sure that you are using that ice I recommended, and also be sure to stretch those hamstrings, quads, calves, and hips after each workout. As promised, at the end of this post I will have some advice and workouts for runners who have some racing experience and would now like to run a little faster.
At the end of last week, you were (after your walking warmup), running for 90 seconds, alternating with walking for 90 seconds. This week we will both increase the running time, reduce the walking time, and increase the number of cycles. Don’t worry, we won’t be doing all of those things in the same workout.
Day One: Following your warmup, run for 90 seconds, then walk for 60 seconds. For the second cycle, run for two minutes, then walk for 60 seconds. Repeat both cycles. For the last cycle, run for 90 seconds, walk for 30 seconds, then run for 60 seconds. A little complicated, but you are pushing yourself here a little, with less rest and more running. Finish with your five minute walk and don’t forget the stretching and the ice!
Day Two: Repeat day one with one change. Repeat the first two cycles one additional time (total of three), then finish off as before.
Day Three: Rest. We’re not adding any more running days this week, so your rest days will be the same as last week. Some strength training or Yoga, or just some simple stretching is fine, but no running.
Day Four: Here is a bit of a challenge. Warm up. Run for two minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Repeat four more times. One additional cycle is optional. Cool down, stretch, ice.
Day Five: Rest completely.
Day Six: Repeat day four. This time, do that extra cycle.
Day Seven: Rest day, although like day three, you can do some weights, Yoga, Pilates, etc.
Week two is now complete! Hopefully, you have purchased some good running shoes by now (if not, do it now!). Have you found that goal race?
This is for those of you who are still basically beginners, but you can run at least three or four miles (or even more), have run a few races, and now would like to improve your time, possibly even earn a medal in your age division.
To help you run faster, we’re going to add three workouts to your running schedule. One of these will involve adding extra mileage. For example, if your longest run is currently three to six miles, this week, following the 10% rule, you will increase the distance by a half mile. This workout will increase your endurance.
The second workout will involve some interval training. This will entail some short to medium distances of really fast running, which will improve your VO2 Max, which is a measurement of your body’s ability to use oxygen. (Google it if you want more info.) Although there is a lot of hard work involved, you will see your overall running speed improve as if by magic.
The third workout is not quite as intense as the interval training, and will vary from week to week, but basically can be called a lactate threshold run. Your lactate threshold is the point at which your body has built up enough lactic acid and responds by needing to slow down or rest. This workout will increase your stamina, your ability to run fast for a longer period of time.
(This is a very simplified description of the science behind the above workout types. I will give you the workouts, you will get faster. To advance from that point, there are many resources that you can use to continue your progress.)
It is helpful to pick a “goal time” for your race. Be realistic. If your current time is around 27 minutes, aim for a 5k time of about 25 minutes. If your goal time is 25 minutes, then your goal pace per mile is about 8 minutes per mile. if your current time is 24 minutes, you may have a goal of 22 minutes. That would make your pace about 7 minutes per mile. Remember these times (calculate by: goal time divided by 3.1)
The Long Run: As mentioned above, increase your current long run distance by one half mile on one day of the week.
The Interval Workout: Preferably, you will do this run on a track, so head on down to your local high school. Warm up for four laps. Run one lap at your goal 5k pace (divide your per mile pace by four). This should feel hard. Or even very hard. Walk or jog for 200 meters (half lap). Repeat three or four more times. Finish with a half mile cool down and stretching.
The Lactate Threshold Run: Back on the road for this one, warm up for a mile. Run the next half mile at a pace about 20 seconds slower that your goal 5k pace. Recover for about a quarter mile. Run another half mile at the faster pace. Finish with about a half mile of cool down and stretching.
In addition to these three workouts, you can run another two to three days during the week, basically an easy to moderate paced run. Try not to run two hard workouts in a row. A sample workout week could be something like this (adapt for your own schedule):
Sunday: Long Run
Tuesday: Lactate Threshold Run
Wednesday: Easy Run
Thursday: Interval Run
Saturday: Moderate Run
Okay, now you have it. Get out there and get going. Next week’s workouts will increase your running time and distance (for beginners) and add a couple interesting speed workouts for current runners. Stay tuned!
This post is revised and updated from a beginner 5k program I created several years ago.