Friday, 31 May 2013

How to run a 5k faster!

With the sensational boom of park runs pooping up across the globe there has been recent interest in runners who want to know how to get faster over this distance. Just like any other distance, you need to vary your training methods if you want to post better times.

The most common mistake people make in training for any distance is running every run at the same speed and intensity. In the beginning they will get slightly quicker but a plateau will be reached and progress thereafter will be limited. This common pitfall can be avoided by varying run times ans intensity. 

So what do you need to do for 5k training?

  Run 1

This should be a very easy over distance run. That means running much slower than race pace but going for 8-15km building up over a few weeks. What this does is allows the body to adapt to your running style, lay down solid connective tissues and increase mitochondrial density in the muscles cells. An increase in mitochondrial density will allow you to burn more fuel more efficiently, which makes you faster and gives you the ability to run longer.

Lets say your desired goal is sub 25mins. That makes race pace 12km/hr. This run should be performed at about 10.5 or 11km/hr depending on your lactate threshold (see previous posts).

Run 2

A mid week run should be based around interval training. The intensity of the interval will change from person to person but if we stick with the sub 25min goal, the work out should be something like this;

Warm up 1km at 10km/hr
800m at 10.5km/hr 200m at 12.5km/hr
800m at 10.5km/hr 200m at 13km/hr
800m at 10.5km/hr 200m at 13.5km/hr
800m at 10.5km/hr 200m at 12.5km/hr
Cool down

As you progress the intervals can change either by increasing the high intensity speed but never the low intensity speed or by increasing the high intensity duration like this;

Warm up 1km at 10km/hr
600m at 10.5km/hr 400m at 12.5km/hr
700m at 10.5km/hr 300m at 13km/hr
700m at 10.5km/hr 300m at 13.5km/hr
600m at 10.5km/hr 400m at 12.5km/hr
Cool down

This type of session will get your muscles in tune with running faster. It also lets you raise that glass ceiling of lactate threshold, which is what enables you to go faster for longer.This is achieved by opening dormant blood vessels and increasing lung function.

Run 3

You get a choice on this one, depending on how the body feels you can either do;

A recovery run: 5-8km at 10km/hr strict.
This type of session is essential for long term recovery and injury prevention.It will maintain all the work and progress from previous sessions.


A fartlek run: leave the heart rate monitor at home for this one and just go out and run. When you feel good speed up and when you feel tired slow down, as soon as you feel recovered from the tiredness speed up again. When I do these sessions I usually pick a tree or bus stop or house up the road and I speed up until I reach it, then I slow right down and when I'm ready I chose another landmark and go again. Some of the intervals will be long, some will be short and the high intensity speed will vary from all out sprint to just below race pace. It really doesn't matter so long as you mix things up quite a bit.
This type of session will allow you to rekindle what it is you love about running because you are totally free and totally in control. It will also raise that glass ceiling and build great strength in the legs and lung capacity.