I was at the gym yesterday evening and just as I was leaving a sign by the exit caught my eye. It had been put up by one of the personal trainers advertising their services. Amongst the normal claims for improved fitness, strength training, dietary advice, etc, was the claim to be able to provide training from 5K up to marathon distance. My interest piqued I read the sign and before long the PT must have seen me standing there and so came over and we had a bit of a chat.
The training is effectively done via an app, a training schedule is set-up and you then respond with your results. The programme was designed to run for a 16 week period. All seemed a bit too remote for my liking. As I left, though, I noticed that he had a testimonial on his sign from a runner who said that he'd taken a minute off of his 5K time through following the 16 week programme.
Initially I thought that was quite good. My best 5K time is currently 23:45 and to be able to get under 23 mins would be a huge step and I wished I'd seen that before so I could ask how that was achieved. Then I started to think more about it. Where was the individual's starting point? If they were like me, been running for a few years now, but were struggling to find those extra seconds, then that would be good.
However if they were someone who had started from, say, a C25K position and were just beginning to be able to complete a 5K by running all the way round, was 1 minute after 16 weeks that impressive? I've taken people out running who have just started and seen a bigger improvement than 1 minute over a 5K time in a shorter period.