For me, 2018 has been the year of the 5k. Or, the return to the 5k. Through the first half of the year, I’ve ran 7 5k’s. I’ve improved my time in each one, but I’m still not close to my PR.
And perhaps now I am remembering why I started exploring other races! Despite being short, 5k’s are brutal and difficult to master.
What it takes
Unlike even the 10k where there is some slack to blend endurance, tactics and speed, the 5k is just one blistering, redline, maximum effort from the gun to the finish.
That type of effort is not easy. Speed alone will not get you home. If you don’t have speed and endurance you will be suffering mightily in the last mile.
Running more will always help, but if you really want to improve at the 5k, you need race-specific training and workouts.
One mistake runners make when training for the 5k is focusing solely on speed, doing a lot of speed intervals or fast workouts, which will help to an extent, but speed alone is not the problem. It’s holding that speed for an extended period of time.
The problem isn’t that you don’t have enough pure speed to run faster for 5K; it’s that you lack the endurance to run three miles at this pace without stopping.
Speed endurance is your ability to hold a specific pace for an increasingly longer period of time. This is the key to running a fast 5k.
- 1-2 mile warm-up
- 10 – 12 x 400 meters at 5K goal pace with 100m jogging rest
- 1-2 mile cool down / stretching
Beginners or first timers should target 5 x 400 as a goal.
The short recovery is the point here. You’re not going for V02 or interval benefits. You won’t be fully recovered. You’ll be tired and working on your speed endurance.
It’s a simple workout to write up, but simple to complete. It will hurt. Just like a 5k.