So, I’ve mentioned that I am turning my focus to the shorter distances for the next 8 weeks or so, and will be training for a 5k. Many of you are part of the 5 by the 5th challenge and are working to chip away at your own 5k time as well, so I wanted to share some training tips for the final months.
One of the principles that clicked for me at the RRCA training was our discussion on the specificity of training as it relates to our running goals.
For a marathon, you should be logging lots of miles, incorporating tempo and some speed work with longer intervals, and including miles at your target race day pace.
A 5k is obviously a little different. You don’t need the long, slow runs. Instead, the focus is on teaching your body to run at the fast, quick pace for race day. To work on speed, the focus should be on interval runs with bursts of speed work at a faster pace than your target pace, but much shorter durations of work.
If you’re already doing speed work, you can get these benefits from two interval workouts a week, or one interval workout and one tempo workout (using “short tempo” pace, slightly faster than “long tempo” pace).
If you are brand new to speed work, start by incorporating one interval session each week and see how your body responds. Speed is a stress on the body just like distance, so it’s important to keep overall mileage where it is while your body adapts.
The point of intervals is to prep your body for those hard paces without needing as much recovery as the full distance because the workout is broken into pieces, with rest in between. On race day, the magic can happen.
So, what sort of intervals can you be doing? Anything that pushes your pace beyond your 5k target pace will help. The standard track repeats of 200s (half lap), 400s (one lap), 800s (two laps) or ladders are all excellent. The emphasis should be on the shorter, faster intervals which will build your VO2 max (your body’s maximum oxygen uptake).
Here are a few of my favorites, always with a 10-15 minute warm up and cool down.
- 5 x 1k (about .6 mile) at 10-15 seconds faster than goal race pace, rest for the length of the interval
- 10 x 400s (one track lap) with two minute rest or 400m easy jog
- 12 x 1 minute sprints, with 1 minute rest
- Steady state run with 1 mile at race pace followed by 800m (20 seconds faster than race pace), 3-4 minute jog and repeat
- 30/20/10 workout (easy 30, hard 20, sprint 10) and repeat 4x, then rest 2 minutes and repeat cycle 2-3 times
Interval days should always be sandwiched between easy days, either easy running or cross training.
Finally, a huge thank you to the ladies at Another Mother Runner for featuring me yesterday. If you don’t already follow their blog, you should! I was lucky enough to meet Sarah and Dimity a year ago when they were in Houston, and they are amazing mothers, athletes and writers.
Do you incorporate interval work regularly? What is one of your favorite track workouts?