Runner and writer Fiona Bugler picks out the key training runs to get you in shape for 5K this summer in just six weeks.
Summer is the time when many of us decide to run faster, or maybe even start running in the first place – and what a better distance to take on than the 5K? Events such as parkrun.org.uk (a free weekly 5K event held every Saturday morning at 9am at locations nationwide), have made taking on 5K accessible for all and extremely popular.
Training and racing at 3.1 miles are core to most training plans, from racing on the track to a marathon, as well as being a great way to boost your all-round aerobic fitness. Spending six weeks focussed on 5K training is perfect for boosting your running economy and your V02 Max (the amount of oxygen that reaches your working muscles and one of the key measures of aerobic fitness).
A 5K time is a benchmark and it provides you with a measure your speed endurance and a solid baseline from which you can assess the speed at which to do your shorter intervals (most are done at 5K pace), as well as predicting race times over other distances.
Over a six-week period, training for a 5K should include three to five runs a week: one to three speed sessions (one of which is a tempo run) and a long run as your core training sessions, plus if you would like to easy running or cross training. If you’re tired drop a speed session or your long run, or swap for an easy run. This can be the same if you’re a beginner or advanced, as speed and pace will be relative for you.
Speed sessions to try
For endurance and race pace training:
5 x 1K at goal race pace with 1 minute recovery.
For speed endurance:
8 x 400M with 90 second to 2 minute recoveries.
To sharpen up for that sprint finish:
10 to 20 x 200M with 100M walk recovery.
Once a week you can practice running comfortably hard, at ‘tempo’ or ‘threshold’ pace which builds up to race pace.
Run 3 miles, and every week up the pace:
Week one: 45 seconds a mile slower than your goal 5K pace.
Week two: 35 seconds slower than your goal 5K pace.
Week three: 25 seconds slower than your goal 5K pace.
Week four: 2 miles at 30 seconds slower and 1 to 2 miles at your goal 5K pace.
Week five: 2 x 1.5 miles at your goal 5K pace.
Week six: easy running or 3 x 1 mile at your goal 5K pace early in the week.
It’s easy to forget that 5K races ask your body to tap into your aerobic engine. A weekly long run of 90 minutes plus will boost your V02 Max which means you can provide your working muscles with the oxygen it needs to perform well.
And the long run also helps get your body strong for running, developing muscles, tendons, ligaments and even your bones. The more total running fitness you can gain, the better you will be at coping with the demands of faster intervals and threshold running which are essential components of a 5K schedule.
PACE A 5K
6 MINUTES PER MILE 18.38
7 MINUTES PER MILE 21.45
8 MINUTES PER MILE 24.51
9 MINUTES PER MILE 27.58
10 MINUTES PER MILE 31.04
11 MINUTES PER MILE 34.10
12 MINUTES PER MILE 37.16
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