Today begins the start of a 4 part series on what you can do to help improve your 5k times. There have been many lessons I’ve learned from running a 5k and achieving that coveted PR. Most, if not all runners, seek to improve their times, and why shouldn’t you? It’s one thing to run a 5k and finish, but another to come back weeks later and beat that time by only a second or better yet, a minute. Within this series I will breakdown the 5k as well as provide some tips on how I’ve learned to grow stronger, faster, and run smarter.
(This series will mainly focus on the 5k, but can also be utilized for other distances)
One thing that I’ve noticed is that running the same distance every day, or every other day at the same speed doesn’t get you anywhere. Sure, you may look good doing it, but you’re selling yourself short. There are several ways to improve your speed and overall endurance, but you have to be willing to put in the time and the hard work. One of the best ways to achieve a faster pace… is to run fast.
This has to be one of the most important training workouts you will need to rely on when you want to take time off of your pace. You don’t have to run as fast as the Flash, but faster than your normal pace. The benefits of speed work are geared not only towards speed and the ability to run faster at easier efforts, but through endurance, mental strength, and stamina. There are 3 main speed work training exercises: Interval training, Fartlek/speedplay, and Tempo.
- Fartlek or speedplay – After warming up, increase your speed/effort in short bursts not for time or pace, but for short distances (from stop sign to fire hydrant) followed by easy effort recovery in short distances, then return to regular talking pace. Repeat this throughout your run.
- Tempo – After warming up, increase speed/effort to just outside of your comfort zone where you have elevated breathing to the point where you can talk, but only in broken words. This will be for a longer period of time than a fartlek. Follow this by a cooldown.
- Interval – After warming up, increase your speed/effort to the max for a few minutes to the point where you’re gasping for air, followed by recovery for the same amount of time. Repeat this throughout your workout then cooldown.