Speed Training

I have been running for around 18 months. During this time, I have twice entered a 5k Park Run and completed a Half Marathon. I am extremely pleased with my efforts and especially pleased with the fact that I haven't given up (something I am prone to doing!)

Now however, I believe it is time to pick up the pace (litterally). I have looked into joinging a club to help me however, due to the times I work, this isn't really possible, so I am left to my own devices.

My mane goal is to try and improve my 5k times - and eventually build from there.

I have read the various ideas bounced around for improving pace, so taking that into consideration, I thought about utilising the C25K program. I used this to start me running so I know that it is designed to build endurance, so why wouldn't it work for speed.

I was planning on using this program and running at speed during the run periods and walking/slow jogging during the walk periods.

Would this be a beneficial way of training to help increase speed? If I am going to maintain a faster speed for longer distances, then I need to slowly build this up so what better way??



  • What's your current training schedule and what sort of pace are you aiming for?
  • At present I don't have any specific training schedule.

    I go out 3 or 4 times a week and do on average 3 - 4 miles at a time. My pace is around 10:00 min/mile and I would like to reduce this to about 08:00 min/mile to begin with

    Saying that, my last Park Run had me at a 09:17 pace.

  • Ok. Well if you've been doing quite a few 5k runs already I imagine you may find the C25k programme a bit too basic.

    If I were you I'd firstly try getting in one run a week at longer distance. I found that my 5k times started sliding once my long run went over 8 miles, keep this at an easy pace. Then you can do another of your workouts aimed at pushing the speed, intervals are the best way to do it, either 400m intervals or 800m intervals are ideal for increasing 5k speed. If you want to average 8:00/mile for 5k you need to be hitting 7:30 pace over 800m so that would be your goal to work at over the next few weeks.

    Keep the other runs as they are initially but you might want to gradually up the distance too. The general principle is to work on more mileage at easy pace mixed in with one or two sessions a week that are specific to what you are training for.

  • RatzerRatzer ✭✭✭

    I'm not quite sure what you're planning, even with the C25k open, so it's hard to answer, but I'm inclined to say 'no'.  It sounds like you're suggesting running fast, then each time the duration is increased you run at the same fast for longer.  It can work, to a point, but it can also fail badly.  As an example, a weightlifter would not take their 1RM (the heaviest weight they can lift once), lift it, then say two days later that they should lift it twice, and then two days later again lift it three times.  That's the one extreme, where your speed would be too fast to maintain for longer distances... unless you do what the weightlifter does and only do a percentage of your max but lift it more times.  The other extreme is, of course, where you're going so slow that there's no point having the intervals in the first place, but that's just silly...

    Another thing to take into consideration is that training to make you faster is hard by its nature.  You can't do it too often.  And you've got to intersperse it with other sessions which will toughen you up for the next, recover you for the last, etc.  So you can't make all of your plan over into speed training where you're running fast every time.

    As you've been running for a while, why don't you look at a different 5k plan.  It won't suit you perfectly, but there'll be one somewhere that's based on getting faster instead of on getting started.

  • What I meant was to use the C25k as a platform for the speed work.

    So, if I was to use the week 1 stage for example -

    5 minute warm up jog (walk in the program, but I am beyond that!)

    60 seconds @ 08:00/mile
    90 seconds walk

    Repeat for 20 minutes.

    This would then build up so that by week 9 I am doing 30 minutes @ 08:00/mile

  • At present I don't have any specific training schedule.

    I go out 3 or 4 times a week and do on average 3 - 4 miles at a time. My pace is around 10:00 min/mile and I would like to reduce this to about 08:00 min/mile to begin with

    Saying that, my last Park Run had me at a 09:17 pace.

  • Thanks for the advice.

    I'll look more at the speed designed training plans image

  • Try this plan:

    http://www.halhigdon.com/5K Training/5-Kinter.htm

    It seems more aimed at your level, you're not going to need walks etc if you can already comfortably run a 5k. 

  • I think it is a genius idea. I started running using c25k pot casts last year. Will deffo be trying it out for intervals on my next run !
  • I'm not convinced. If it was such a great method of hitting times in 6 weeks wouldn't everyone use it? To go from a 9:17 5k to 30mins at 8 min mile in 6 weeks is a hell of an ask. Why not instead aim for 9 min miling for a 5k?

    Only 20% of your total mileage should be quality, and you want to build to all of it being over a minute a mile faster than your 5k pace in 6 weeks? I hope you can afford a good physio!

    Aim for sessions like 4 x 1200m at 9 min mile, with 1 min rest, or 4 miles at 9:30 min mile. Mix up the sessions. 

  • I don't think it should be too difficult to improve from 9.17 to 8 minute miling in about 8 weeks.  About 6 years ago I went from 7 minute miling to 6 minute miling (5k time) in 8 weeks simply on the basis of doing one session of long intervals a week (5/6 x 1k or similar) with a second track session every 2 weeks of 400 intervals or pyramids.  My long run was typically over 90 minutes at the time though and I'd been marathon training until 3 months previously so I had probably build a decent base to add the speedwork to but I certainly didn't need any physio.

    While I don't think C25K is the ideal mechanism for introducing speedwork the principle of gradually increasing the intensity of the sessions should help you improve your overall speed but it is important that you schedule enough rest so you don't overstress your body when introducing speedwork - if your muscles are still sore when you are scheduling a session then put the speedwork back another day, if you can't do it properly you won't get the full benefit.  Its also worth introducing some preiodisiation inyour training as you add more workload into it,  (one easy week in four or so to give you some time to gain the benefits of your harder training

    Fartlek can also be a good method of introducing speedwork and you can gradually add more structure as you get used to it. 

    I'm sure there are some articles on here about introducing speedwork also which could give you some idea of starter sessions.  The site www.hillrunner.com also has a calculator which will give you suggested paces for interval/tempo sessions based on a recent race time, I've found it useful (for when I improved my time) so could help you also,  articles by Frank Horwill on the serpentine rc site (sorry i don't have a link but should google) can also give you a fair bit of info on the theory behind improving speed.

     Best of luck with getting that pace upimage

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