Achieving a sub 20 5k

Hi all. My biggest aim is to get under 20 mins over 5k, my PB at parkrun is 21.12 which was 4 years ago. My PB for this year is 22.08. What do you recommend I do during the week, and how many days should I train/rest? Atm I get out on a Wednesday and do anything between 3 and 8k, depending how tired I feel. I work mon-fri in a physical job, which helps keep the weight off! I'm 33 later this month and in reasonably good shape, any advice to get below that 20 min mark would be greatly appreciated

Thanks, Glenn


  • bigballer69bigballer69 ✭✭✭
    If you are only running twice a week (Wednesday and Saturday Parkrun) and can run 22min you probably just have to run more. Maybe a longer run on a Sunday 10-15k slow and then another short run midweek. You probably wont be able to push yourself every week at Parkrun so maybe once a month drop a midweek run so you can give Parkrun a good effort.  
  • chamolkchamolk ✭✭✭
    Hi Glenn

    Sounds like you could certainly do it. I equalled my pb of 21:56 in April and wanted to get under 20. After a bit of a break following the London marathon, I started some speedwork specifically for my 5k time, and gradually increased my weekly mileage from about 25 to 40.

    On the track, I did weekly sessions at target pace, usually with about 5k worth of fast work, increasing the distance I was holding target pace at each week

    400m x 12 at target pace
    500m x 10
    600m x 8
    800m x 6
    1000m x 5

    I think by this stage I'd got down to about 20:21 so I did
    1 mile x 3 at target pace
    1.5k x 2 at target pace

    Then got 19:57 in early Sept - probably about 3 months of fairly determined training, though this was also whilst training for an autumn marathon too.

    This worked for me, might not work for everyone. In general, I'd suggest you'd get most benefit from simply increasing your weekly amount of running, like bigballer said. Next step would then be incorporating some speedwork at target pace.

    Or maybe you've already achieved it - how have things been since your original post? 
  • Hi Glenn, 

    hows the goal coming along? I’m in the same boat as you, pretty my the same PB’s and age etc. <div>
    </div><div>I am trying to break the 20 minute barrier, only just started back running after maybe a year off. Really would like to break that 20 minutes!! </div><div>
    </div><div>Cian </div>
  • Without wanting to dampen your enthusiasm too much, the fact is that most people are genetically incapable of cracking the magic 20 minutes, not with any amount of training, and as time goes by after you hit your late 30’s then it becomes even further out of reach. My PB is 22:15 but I know for an absolute fact that the sub 20 is never going to happen because my maximum heart rate (about 170) won’t allow it. If you said you’d only been running for 6-12 months then fair enough, but your post implies that you’ve been running for at least 4 years. I’ve been running for a couple of years around 30-35km per week, and for the first year the PB’s kept tumbling down, but now it takes an exponential extra effort to knock off even 5 seconds, never mind 2 minutes. Going from 22 down to 20 doesn’t sound like much, but the extra effort required is truly massive! It constantly pees me off that various running publications would have you believe that with the right training anyone can achieve that target, but for a lot of people they simply don’t have the physical heart & lung capacity to do it, otherwise we’d all be running sub 20’s given sufficient will power. When it boils down to it, ultimate running performance is 90% genetics. The right training will allow you to reach your individual potential, but it plateaus off pretty quickly, after which the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Don’t get hung up about a specific PB target, just increase the training 10% per week and see where you end up. It’s called a “personal” best for a reason...
  • SBD.SBD. ✭✭✭
    I think you're being a bit overly pessimistic there Wheelyneil.

    A sub 20 5K should be achievable by an average male senior (lets leave veterans out of this for the moment!) with the right training over a suitable period of time and assuming they're not carrying any excess weight.  It just needs a bit of dedication and focus!
  • <blockquote class="Quote">
    <div><blockquote class="Quote">
    <div class="QuoteAuthor"><a href="/profile/SBD.">SBD.</a> said:</div>
    <div class="QuoteText">I think you're being a bit overly pessimistic there <b>Wheelyneil</b>.

    A sub 20 5K should be achievable by an average male senior (lets leave veterans out of this for the moment!) with the right training over a suitable period of time and assuming they're not carrying any excess weight.  It just needs a bit of dedication and focus!</div>
    I’m not convinced. The figures speak for themselves - less than 5% of parkrunners ever achieve sub 20. Even excluding women and vets, I would guess that less than 20% manage it. If the original poster has been running for more than 4 years then I cannot see where more than 2 minutes is going to come from.</div></blockquote>
  • SBD.SBD. ✭✭✭
    Think positive Wheelyneil - any reasonable coach could get even you under 20 minutes given the time and your commitment!
Sign In or Register to comment.