Do you ever feel as though you've plateaued with your running? You can comfortably run 5k but you want to get faster? Professional Triathlete, (unofficial) World Record Holder and Asics Ambassador Beth Potter shares her top tips to run your fastest ever 5k.
How do I train to run a faster 5k?
What is interval running?
Interval running is running at a higher intensity for a short period of time followed by a recovery of lower intensity of running or walking. This sequence is repeated to create a session. Interval training allows you to work harder over a shorter period of time and gain better oxygen absorption, transportation around the body and capacity in the lungs.
What does an interval run look like?
Adding one interval running session into your training plan will provide huge improvements to your speed. Your interval run should be shorter in distance than 5k, and each intense burst should be quicker than you can currently run a 5k. Ideally, you want to include 10 minutes in total of hard effort with recovery in between.
Example: run hard for 1 minute, recover with a slow run for 30 seconds and repeat 10 times. If you have access to a running track, you could base this on laps of the track instead.
Long Slow Run
Long slow runs help to increase your aerobic capacity, strength and endurance, which will have a positive impact when trying to run a 5k PB. Aim to add one long slow run into your training programme per week.
How long should my long slow run be?
The distance on your longer runs should be built up gradually over time. The 10% rule is a good place to start, increasing your weekly total mileage by no more than 10% than the previous week and adding it onto your long run or run slowly for an hour. Sticking to this rule will help you to avoid injury when running.
How slow should my long run be?
Your long slow run should feel very easy and you should be able to comfortably hold a conversation whilst running. Aim for between 55 and 75 percent slower than your 5k pace.
To run a faster 5k, it's important to incorporate crosstraining into your training programme as this will help offload your legs. Good exercises for crosstraining can be either swimming or cycling as they are non-impact sports. This reduces your likelihood of injury, helps to build strength in the muscles you use for running as well as surrounding muscles, and both are good at building up endurance as these exercises also work your heart and lungs. Good endurance will help you to feel less fatigued when running and eventually allow you to push harder on each run.
How often should I crosstrain for running?
If you run two or three times a week it is recommended to add two or three crosstraining sessions into your week too. These can range from between 30-60 minutes of activity at a moderate intensity.
Basic training plan to improve your 5k PB
Over the course of one week, try to include the following sessions into your training plan:
1x Interval training (1 minute, recover with a slow run for 30 seconds and repeat 10 times)
1x Long slow run (1 hour or +10% of total mileage each week)
2x Swim or bike (between 30-60 minutes each)