5k Training Tips

I'm just getting back in to running and with a few training runs I did a 5k park run in 25:20. I come from an athletics background, granted bit shorter distance...40m...and carrying a pole...and landing on a nice soft mat... So when I'm running, think decathlete on last lap on 1550m, and you'll have a good idea of my style...lol. Since retiring from that I have done two 10ks and the 2014 Cardiff 1/2 marathon (The some triathlons, but I won't include them...). In all those races my pace would have put me at 22:30 for a 5k, so my aim is sub 22min. Which, unless I'm now too old, seems doable... I plan to do a 5k park run every 3 weeks. This will give me 7-9 training sessions in between (two small kids getting in the way! lol ). Below is an example of the sessions, which I started on Tuesday and plan to do a session every two days.

Week 1
Easy run about 7km
6x700m at (current) race pace, 2min recovery (700m is one lap of local park)
4.8km tempo run about 85% of race pace, and very similar elevation etc of park run.

Week 2
Easy run but longer than week 1
16x20sec hard hills, 2:30 recovery
4.8km tempo as week 1

Week 3
Easy run, longer again
4-6 x 1000m at race pace minus 5sec, 2:30 recovery
3km tempo run, as park run in two days.

How does this sound to more experienced runners? Anything I should definitely not do? Or something I should add in? Or just any tweaks?



  • Update on the sessions... 
    I've just done the 6x700m with 2 min recovery. They were done in 3:09, 3:06, 3:07, 3:04, 3:05, 3:01
  • This was my Fitbit heart rate for the run. I don't know how accurate it it, but is it's consistent, I guess that's the main thing.
    hr.jpg 34.1K
  • I did the 4.8km run today, turns out it's a 4.73km run lol. I did it in 26:17, it's basically 2 x 1.18km hills, with jog down recovery. I don't think it's the best session. Unless someone thinks differently, I may not do that session again? 
  • Your training is very similar to what I did when I started, and similar to you my goal was to run faster over 5k. Once I'd got over the walk-run-walk phase and could run for the whole 5km, I think like you I was at about 25 minutes, which quickly fell to 23-24 minutes. Progress slowed after that, but I finally got to 20 minutes after another year and now I think I could probably do about 19 minutes something if I picked the right day, which I really need to get around to doing. So yes, in answer to your age question - absolutely, no problem (you look younger than me!).

    A quick word on injuries though: In years past I'd tried running but got injured after a month or two every single time, so this time round, aged 40, I went to see a gait analysis expert, who picked up on what I was doing wrong straight away and with his help I've now been running for 2-3 years without any major problems. So if you do get problems early on (i.e. fundamental problems with running style), then I'd recommend that. Secondly, at my age small niggles and injuries coming and going are sadly quite common, so as you progress just be careful and listen to your body. I've had some issues recently and the same guy has adjusted my training to back off the load on my body. My slow runs have got slower, my middle distance fast runs have gone, but I've retained speed sessions. I now follow a sort of 80:20 plan, where 80% of my weekly mileage is in HR zone 2, but keeping the intervals sessions once a week to retain my speed. I also gym once a week, which concludes with a fast mile. This has worked extremely well, and the niggles are fading, without much or any loss of speed, in fact I think I've got slightly faster. He says I will eventually restart a more normal 5km training programme such as you're on now (to try and go further down into the teens for 5k), but those niggles are still there a bit so we're erring on the side of caution.

    I hope that helps!
  • Yes, thanks! It does help. I'm 34, 92kg and 18% body fat, so I doubt I'm too old... I just feel it. From being a pole vaulter, my body is ruined, 40% cartilage left in my left knee, shoulder pain, and two slipped discs. Also Ankylosing Spondylitis (rheumatoid arthritis fusing my spine)...just to name a few... So avoiding those niggles is crucial.

    I've just done my long easy run, 9.58km in 1 hour exactly, 6:16min/km. For the first 7km I felt that I could have carried a conversation, but the last 2 are gently uphill to my house, and they slowed 20-30sec per km.

    I've never really done long easy runs before. I've always either tried to up the speed or distance each week, so I'm unsure if this session was easy enough? A week and half till the next 5km, hopefully the training pays off!
  • I have a few issues myself: long standing back problems and permanent nerve pain in my left leg. A sports physio could advise of ways around this for you. My wife, who is a keen runner and a doctor, reckons my left leg has less muscle than the right, so I'm trying to build a bit more left leg work into my gym routine. For me it's all been about seeing the right people and taking their advice. Oh, and being careful when training!
  • Luckily for me the local NHS physio is the regional spine specialist, so got me to rheumatology asap. Apart from exercise, there's nothing they can do with me. Sleeping is the worst, as staying still doesn't help. What's it like having a doctor wife? Is she sympathetic when you're ill/injured, or just say stop winging??? lol. My wife isn't a doctor...she just tells me to stop winging...

    My run today, I did the 6 x 700m again, times 3:20, 3:04: 3:04, 3:04, 3:03, 3:02. I felt really good on the first one....probably because I wasn't pushing it, didn't want to blow up though, never mind.
    Think a good aim for this session could be to do all 6 under 3 minutes!

    My original plan was 16 x 20s hard hill with 2:30 recovery. I didn#t really have the time tonight to do it, but I don't know if it would be a better session than the one I did, or just a different one? Anyone got any views on it?
  • I followed my training plan, and knocked off 1:03 on the next 5k. 24:17 I did it in.
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