Getting faster (5k)

Last year I ran a marathon with a few workmates, going from nothing to 26 miles in about three months following Shade's training plan.  It wasn't quick, it wasn't comfortable, but we did it; I vowed to never run again.

I've since reconsidered and have been running 5k once a week - every other day now that the gyms are closed.  I just cannot get my time down!  I'm always gasping for breath and unable to keep up a fast pace for a meaningful period.  I smoked 20 a day for 20 years, so my lungs probably aren't in the best state, but I can't do much about that now.

Originally I ran 5k on the flat, but I've recently changed my route to include a 1.5k fairly steep hill.  While I can feel more of an ache in my legs, it hasn't had much impact when I've retested on the flat.

My PR is 24:50 and that was giving it absolutely everything, it normally takes around 25/26 minutes.

What is my best route for improving overall speed over the shorter distances, is it alternating sprinting with light jogging?


  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    Hi Grenage,

    As you've alluded to it's a mix of different types of sessions at different paces. Working on your endurance is one part, so long slow runs, and then doing sessions where you're working on your pace, i.e. intervals, progression runs, fartleks, etc. Hill runs, I find, are also really good. I try and do a Kenyan hill session when I can.
  • GrenageGrenage ✭✭✭
    Thanks, Guarddog.  I'll try intervals and fartleks.  Do you think long slow runs are necessary for increased speed on the shorter distances?  The lengthy runs were what really did my head in when training for the marathon.
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    There's a school of thought that runs should be 80/20, so 80% at easy pace and the other 20% where you're getting to threshold. The idea being that the 80% is about time on feet and building up your cardiovascular capacity that will enable you to run at speed for longer. For a 5K target you wouldn't be expected to do the same kind of time or mileage that you put in for a marathon, but probably a nice and easy 60 minute run as your LSR.

    From personal experience I got down to 23 mins from 25 when I was doing a lot of LSRs when doing a whole bunch of HMs last year. The endurance I built up, along with the speed work I'd done, meant I could push the pace more and hang in there. 

    But then what worked for me may not work for you. It's what keeps you interested and wanting to put the training in :smile:
  • GrenageGrenage ✭✭✭
    I spend most of my 5k at near threshold level, so perhaps I should suck it up and slot a longer run in once a week.  I guess doing it by time rather than distance, I wont have to be worried about plotting a route.

    Thanks for your advice. :)
  • Sub17ParkRunSub17ParkRun ✭✭✭
    edited April 2020
    3 or 4 x 20 to 30 minute runs per week.
    A weekly slow long slow run around 60 minutes to build endurance.
    A weekly speed session: 2  or 3 mile tempo run or intervals of 10 x 400m or 20 x 200m to improve leg speed.
  • To get faster you MUST vary your training as much as possible, in terms of both distance and pace. This will include a long run of say 13 miles and another of 60mins. Together with interval paced training at 5km, 3km and mile pace. E mail me with all your details and I will write a bespoke plan for you with 6 months e mail backup. At the moment I am running around 17mins for 5km, however I am approaching 62 year old. 800m, 1500m and 10000m European Champion.
  • GrenageGrenage ✭✭✭
    Thank you guys; I've started trying to vary it a little.  This weekend was a long easy 10k, which took 54:50 minutes.  I say it was an easy run; but I my heart-rate was maxing out at the end.

    I tested my 1 mile max pace this morning and it was 7 on the dot.  I'll try and throw an extra run into the week!
  • Interesting, I'm also trying to increase speed.
  • Lots of great advice here, thanks everyone and to Grenage for posting originally! I am trying to get faster and build up stamina in advance of (hopefully) running my 2nd marathon in the Autumn after a year of stagnating times and injury so trying to mix up my sessions too with different paces etc.

    Good luck with your running Grenage and let us know how you get on!
  • I'm in a similar boat as original poster, currently trying to be strict with myself and build a base after reading and watching some stuff on aerobic base training, currently running around 35k a week and building it up each week, all easy work and completed in around 5 separate runs a week 1 of them being a "longer" run. just starting week 4 and I'm aiming to do 6 weeks minimum before I start some faster runs; hills/intervals etc

    first attempt at pushing myself today just out of interest and did a "fast" 1k (3mins 45sec).

    The aim is to break 20.00 for a 5k but seems quite a while off at the moment.

    Any feedback appreciated
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