Early improvements - rapid halt!

Hi all,

Just recently got back to doing a little running and the local parkrun series gives training a nice edge when competing to better your PB (or demoralises you when you fail!)


I started doing some training a couple of month ago and running 3 or 4 km @ 10-12 kmph on a treadmill in the gym 2 or 3 times a week. Wasn’t sure how’d i’d fair out in the 5k races but ran 26:00 first up, two weeks later did 23:30 which I was delighted with and now 2 weeks later i’ve run 24:34.


I’d read quite a bit online RE training etc. and the vast majority suggested intervals & I have been doing 1KM intervals @ 15.5kmph X 3 while training since doing my first run.


But just looking from more experienced runners how’d they go about continuing to progress and getting off this plateau!


  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    Distance.. If you want to be able to run 5k it helped to be able to go further that bit slower.

    Also I presume your Parkrun isn't on a treadmill try to get more practise outside.

  • As Booktrunk says, run further and slower (it really does work). Don't know anything about you but those times seem good as you have just started. My biggest mistake was always trying to run faster (still a newbie so learning more each day).

    You can look at your times positively and say in 4 weeks you knocked 1:26 off your first PR and if you do that in another 4 weeks you'll be down to 23:08image

  • I'd imagine decent 5K runners are up over 30 miles a week and nearer 45 miles.. while that's not what you are necessarily after, I'd say increase your aerobic fitness with slower longer runs until you can do the 10K+ distance easily - your 5K times will come down.

  • you can train from 23 mins to below 20 mins on less than 20 miles a week. it might not be the best way but it can readily be done by most people with sufficient determination.

    run "further and slower" is simply wrong for 5k. 5k and 10k are not like HMs and marathons and they ALSO require speedwork to get faster.

    you could do 100m training and get faster at 5k....doesn't mean it's the best way!!


    5k is actually quite a hard distance as it requires you to be 'good' at various boldily processes. the long slow runs simply DO NOT test them all. Some yes but not all.

    also what exactly is slow? how slow is slow?


    Zone 1


    Establish base endurance



    Improves fat metabolism, gets muscles/tendons/ ligaments/nerves used to cycling. Increases economy



    More efficient use of energy. Prepares body for harder training, works on technique/skill



    Zone 2


    Improve efficiency



    Improves the ability to use oxygen, produce power and increases efficiency



    Able to produce more power with the same level of effort, works on technique/skill





  • Running further and slower seems to be a very sensible way to get faster.

    How can you say you're fully prepared for a race if the longest you run in practice is only 80% of the distance ?

    You're going too fast too soon. You blast every run you do ? Is there even any warm up in there ? I love doing intervals but I make sure i've got 15 minutes of steady running in there before I dive into them.

    Your body is already rebelling against all of the speed work - it looks like you're slowing down.

    By all means do one speed session a week, but take the others easy and stretch out their distance gradually. You need to be happy running the distance rather than be struggling to complete it.
  • running further and slower seems to be a very sensible way to get good at running further.

    I have seen coaches give training plans to people to run 'slowly' based on incorrect HR zones where they were hardly going faster than people who were walking...how slow is slow?

    @cougie, yes of course your are right that you must go further and also that too much speedwork will burn you out...it's a balance. and that balance WOULD include a lot of distance work

  • There is definately a balance to be had.  I like everyone else do a mixture of long runs and short runs BUT I try not to do the slow runs too slow and try to keep a fast pace throughout the run and basically just increase the mileage without dropping the pace.

    I want to do a sub 20 for 5k by the end of the year and hopefully a sub 40 for 10k. My first parkrun I clocked a 22:15 which was a few months ago now.

    I am now down to 21:20 and am just trying to work out how to pace each time I run and each time I gain confidence that I can sustain the pace throughout the distance.

    I think some people take slow runs too slow sometimes because it's easier to do that than keep the pace up.

    Anyway thats how I managed to find some extra pace, it's comes down to mileage and speedwork just need to find the right balance,

  • I'm not so sure - ill happily do 9 or 10 minute miles on my easy runs - chatting away. When it comes to speedwork - sub 6 minutes. It works for me.

    I think there's more danger in running most of your runs too fast - leaving you fatigued for quality sessions or just unable to recover.
  • yes I agree, especially in unconditioned runners the recovery time and chance of injury is raised by too much faster running. actually there would be truth in that even in more conditioned runner too.

    but consider beginners who are not exercising more than 3 times a week. I would like to see those who are able to do a few strides in each session (very short sprints), some out of breath runs for extended periods (threshold/tempo) and some chatty runs (base/endurance)


    but then I look at @essexlion above. he is probably a reasonably conditioned runner (no offence intended). if he wants to get the best out of what he has over say 10 weeks then there is little benefit he will get from ANY long runs. he will improve lots and quickly by many and varied intervals.

    I look, too, at my personal experience last year where a medical absence forced me to ONLY do base training for 3 months (I wasn't allowed to do intervals basically). That knocked AT LEAST 10% off my 5k PB - ie made it worse, probably more. then again now I'm back to training my times are going down VERY quickly because the base helps tolerate harder training.

    That 10% of @essexlion's time achieves his goal....




  • I am by no way an expert I havn't even been running properly for a year but in my experience so far I tend to not see any benefit from slowing my pace down too much on slower runs. 

    Also I would say that long slow runs arnt necessary for training long distances, getting the mileage in will help but I recently did a HM on training runs no longer than 15K and I only did above 10K twice.  What I did do was alot of 10K's at race pace.

    Now I'm inexperienced and went out too fast so managed to do the first 10K of the HM in 43 mins but slowed down significantly in the second half, finishing in 1:35 but despite never doing the distance I was reletively comfortable I could finish the race.

    Maybe it would have been easier if I had done more slow long runs? I mean for example a fast run for me would be around the 7min/mile mark going under now and again and a slow run would be 7:30 - 7:45 approx.

    Does that sound right? I see the point about the injuries but it feel relatively ok to me.

    If your legs are conditioned and you are taxing the cardio every run I think that will get you pretty far over shorter distances.

    Hope that all makes sense.

  • @essexlion...i'm basically coming from the same camp as you (ie benefits of LSRs to the average 5k parkrunner are overstated). However there ARE physiological benefits of longer slower runs but my own personal example of me (?!) above shows that if that's all you do then there is a LOT of reduced 5k PB time you are missing out on.

    I train with quite a few guys one of who is late 30s and got from 23 mins to 19mins (5k) by pretty much doing ZERO LSRs. That's not to say he wouldn't have got there faster if he did however!

    We'd all agree that Usain does little or no endurance training and that an ultramarathoner would do little strength and speedwork. So as the distances change the physiological adaptations that need to be made change too. 5k/10k is about the point where you need the whole gamut in your running arsenal.

    You don't have to of course and if you are NOT an elite runner you will probably improve over 5k even if you just do 100m sprints OR powerwalking. There just might be a more effective way.



  • specific LSR: for a more conditioned runner I would suggest an intensive endurance run for a long run 10 minutes at the top of zone 2 (aerobic threshold) 5 mins zone 3 (above threshold) repeat those 15 minute blocks for 90 minutes with no rest. That's a hard enough session...and it's what I would call 'slow'.

    Source: joefriel (triathlon coach)


    so, to answer the original question, that sort of run will get you off a plateau as will faster 5 min intervals as will some strides as will some fastish tempo/20-30 minutes intervals.

  • 6 S's - speed, stamina, strength, suppleness, skill and (p)sychology - I think that's right - read it in first chapter of The Art of Running Faster last night - an improvement to your time can be made by improving any one of them but the big leaps in improvement will be made by working on them all - so a mixture of training.

    [and if I read it in a book it must be right!image - don't ask me how to do it though until I've read the rest]

  • c'mon the modern mantra must be that if you read it on the net it must be true. (hmmm)

    and the list misses out stupidity...why do we all spend so much of our lives doing this!! (maybe we enjoy it I know) oh it misses out diet too but I can't think of something that begins with S.

  • Thanks for all the feedback & tips (although a lot of it confused me!!),


    I’ve started doing longer runs for the past couple of weeks for endurance, ran a very enjoyable 8k this morning with my splits getting slightly quicker all the way through 5:09 – 5:03 and felt stronger the further I went which is a new experience.


    I’ll continue with this regime for a while throwing in one interval / fast run per week. Will keep you updated on my progress.

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