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sub 20 min 5k (Read 2536 times)


Slow-smooth-fast

    I am wanting desperately to break the barrier, but not getting there. Any of you guys who have broke it would be so kind as to advise on my training to get there. I know it is about time, but I just need a concrete plan. Then of course, once achieved, it will be sub 19, 18, 17 etc, but sub 20 is my first longed for goal, much appreciated in advance.

    "I've been following Eddy's improvement over the last two years on this site, and it's been pretty dang solid. Sure the weekly mileage has been up and down, but over the long haul he's getting out the door and has turned himself into quite a runner. He's only now just figuring out his potential. Consistency in running is measured in years, not weeks. And over the last couple of years, Eddy's made great strides" Jeff 14 Jan 2009

    Ed4


    Barefoot and happy

      I'm still learning too, but let me take a crack at some advice. This is a graph of your race paces in the last two months vs the race distances: Supposedly if your aerobic base is solid, your pace will fall by a constant amount (approx 15 seconds per mile, give or take a few) every time you double the distance. So given your times in shorter races, your pace in the 9 mile race would be predicted to be in the 7:15 - 7:30 range. The fact that you were significantly slower than that means your aerobic base is underdeveloped. Until you make it stronger, you'll get limited benefit from higher-intensity training. You build base by running plenty of easy miles. The tricky part is, "easy" is often a lot easier than most runners assume. I see you have many easy runs in the 8 min/mile range. Based on your race times, I think a truly easy pace for you would be quite a bit slower, because you're about where I was several months ago. I too thought 8 min/mile was "easy", but then I got a heart rate monitor and discovered that to stay at an easy heart rate I had to slow down to 11 min/mile. But the good news is, once I slowed down I started improving steadily, and now my easy pace is under 9 min/mile. I have no doubt I'll get back to the 8's I was running before, but at a much lower level of effort. And I feel so much stronger now that I know my next 5k is going to be fast. Definitely sub 20. More info: http://www.myjjk.com/viewtopic.php?p=5296 http://web.mit.edu/ducktape/www/run/Hadd.doc
      Curious about running barefoot? Visit the new barefoot running group.


      Slow-smooth-fast

        I appreciate what you are saying but the 9 miler is most certainly an outlier as this was my first ever fell race, it included 2600ft of climb so this should not even be put in the equation. Thus my graph would have a nice positive coefficient. I will have a look at your log and see what you have been doing perhaps. I dont know how to physically go any slower on my slow days, if I do I feel like I am losing running form. Mre comments please. I also notice from your log that you just do easy and log, so I feel I have nothing to learn from this to help me with my aim. Do you not do any tempo woor or intervals or hills etc? How do you know you are going to break 20 when you havent even been anywhere near this pace? Im intreagued.

        "I've been following Eddy's improvement over the last two years on this site, and it's been pretty dang solid. Sure the weekly mileage has been up and down, but over the long haul he's getting out the door and has turned himself into quite a runner. He's only now just figuring out his potential. Consistency in running is measured in years, not weeks. And over the last couple of years, Eddy's made great strides" Jeff 14 Jan 2009

          Eddy, Based on your training, it seems like you are right there at the cusp. What is keeping you from hitting your time? Are you just dying at the end of the race? Not holding a steady pace throughout? You log entries aren't the most detailed, so it is hard to tell what exactly is holding you back. I'm at 20:38, and hope to give 20:00 a crack in a couple weeks. I feel like I'm not getting in enough miles, is my problem, as I tend to die the last 1 mile or so, but it looks like you are getting alot more miles in per week, so I'm curious as to what is happening during your attempts. Without that, I would say run your easy/long days a little easier, and maybe look at doing some longer intervals, like mile repeats at good clip instead of some of the shorter intervals that you are doing currently. You run your short intervals at a flying pace (I can't even get close to a 5:05 pace during repeats), but that might be too speedy/short to help your endurance end of things. Just my thoughts. Someone who has actually broken 20:00 might be a better source, though...


          Slow-smooth-fast

            Thanks for your comments, you know that all seems to make sense. Let me start by giving you a fact. All the 5k race times in my log, are not actual races, but just runs on my own, so they are not actually a true reflection of what I might run in an actual race. When I went out for a run yesterday, I started at first mile 0f 7:38, and felt good, so I thought, hey what the hell let me speed up a little, so I did a quicker mile of 6:44 I believe. Then I thought, hey let’s go for a 5k PB, so I did my last mile in 6:28 I think it was, and then sprinted the last 0.1 miles, to get my PB of 20:15. So I know I can do better as you can see from above, it started out relatively easy for me, and I just decided to go faster and faster. I think I need to actually enter a race, and see how I do. I know that I need to run more consistant splits. 6:27 per mile to get 20mins 5k is perhaps attainable, I don’t know but thinking about it does scare me. I will have to give it a go in a race environment. The intervals I have been doing are at the track, and I literally fly there. I will try some of my own mile repeats. What sort of time I should be doing these at and how many, and what rest period baffles me though? Any thoughts? Should I be aiming for lets say 5x1mile at a faster pace than my intended race split with 3 mins recovery? Not sure?

            "I've been following Eddy's improvement over the last two years on this site, and it's been pretty dang solid. Sure the weekly mileage has been up and down, but over the long haul he's getting out the door and has turned himself into quite a runner. He's only now just figuring out his potential. Consistency in running is measured in years, not weeks. And over the last couple of years, Eddy's made great strides" Jeff 14 Jan 2009

              If you are trying to predict what you could run in a race, try running 3x1 miles at the pace you think you might be able to run the race in (Say, 6:25 in this case), with a 3-4 minute recovery between, with adequate warm-up and cool-down. I typically run it 1 week before my real race to "prove" to myself that my race plan is reasonable. I normally can't get the last mile at that target pace, but that's to be expected. Whatever you total for the 3 miles will be close to your 5k time. Looking at that, it doesn't sound logical, and you might not believe it, but for me it has been a fairly accurate predictor and others have confirmed/recommended it as well. Real races really affect your performance (for the better). I would say the only way to really know whether you can run sub-20:00 is to enter a real race and try. I think you'll surprise yourself with the results. Lastly, reviewing your training one more time, I would recommend getting some training in based on your goal race. For instance, if I run a 20:30, and I know I want to break 20:00, I put in a fair amount of interval or tempo work that puts me right at that 6:25 pace. I want to know that pace, to really know what it feels like, and give myself confidence that I can run that pace for the distance. I do a little bit of faster interval work, and plenty of slower easy work and long days, but I also get alot of goal pace work in. I may just be missing it in your logs (lots of varied workouts there!), but you seem to have alot of intervals faster than that goal pace, and alot of tempo, easy, and long runs that are slower than that pace, but very little actually at that pace. Some 800s or miles at goal pace would be a good confidence and endurance builder, in my opinion. I think you've got it in you already, Eddy, and are just nervous/disbelieving. Do some work to build your confidence a bit and then enter a race, and after you see what you do revisit your plan and adjust. Don't psyche yourself out thinking about it too much, just do it! Good luck!
                I too thought 8 min/mile was "easy", but then I got a heart rate monitor and discovered that to stay at an easy heart rate I had to slow down to 11 min/mile. But the good news is, once I slowed down I started improving steadily, and now my easy pace is under 9 min/mile. I have no doubt I'll get back to the 8's I was running before, but at a much lower level of effort. And I feel so much stronger now that I know my next 5k is going to be fast. Definitely sub 20.
                Ed4, Out of curiosity, how long a period was that training to go from 11min/mile->9min/mile? Was it hard to adjust to? My wife just got a HR monitor, and I of course had to try it, and found my "easy" 8/min/mi HR was alot higher than I would have expected as well. I'm planning on finishing out my "racing season" at the end of Sept, and then taking a shot at HR training for a bit. Wondering how long it was before you noticed a difference.


                Slow-smooth-fast

                  cheers for that, you should be my personal trainer, good motivator. I am going to go out tonight for an easy 7 miler, and I am desperately going to try my hardest to slow down. Tommorrow I will do the 3xmile repeats at goal pace. I know exactly where to head now, it all makes sense. Many thanks.

                  "I've been following Eddy's improvement over the last two years on this site, and it's been pretty dang solid. Sure the weekly mileage has been up and down, but over the long haul he's getting out the door and has turned himself into quite a runner. He's only now just figuring out his potential. Consistency in running is measured in years, not weeks. And over the last couple of years, Eddy's made great strides" Jeff 14 Jan 2009

                    Eddy, There is really no secret and you are definitely on the right track. I think you've made some excellent progress and it's natural to start to get a little greedy and want to see some major milestones met. That's part of what keeps us motivated. I think Ed4 and s.crissman have hit on two of the keys already: One is make sure you are getting a steady diet of easy aerobic mileage. It's good to hit a variety of paces every week, but by far the lions share of your mileage should be done at an easy pace and the pace needs to be easy enough to fully recover from the hard efforts. The other is race more. If your goal is to break 20 for 5K then you need to know how far away that goal is and for that you need to get some practice racing in official 5K races. You've hit on the big key. All you need is time. And it really isn't complicated. Here's my story, for what it's worth: About 14 months ago I was woefully out of shape, I had let my training tail off for almost two full years, I was 37 years old, 175 lbs and could not run a mile in under 6:30 to save my life. I decided that enough was enough and it was time to get back to some decent level of fitness (I had been in decent road race shape in my early to mid 30s). I set my goals, in order: 1.) to make running habit again, 2.) to return to a level of fitness where I thought I could start training for a PR marathon--and for me that meant being able to run 5K's consistently under 18 minutes, 3.) to run a PR marathon. I called the above my Quixotic Quest. I have accomplished #'s 1 and 2. On October 13th I will make my first attempt at #3. Here is how I have gotten here: I ramped my mileage up to 50 mpw as fast as I could--in about a month--and then ran 50-60 mpw for a year. I did two "big workouts" a week: 1.) a 90 minute run on the weekends with some cruise intervals or tempo or progression run, and 2.) a 70 minute run mid-week with some pickups or fartleks, or the occasional tempo run. All the other days of the week I just did 45-60 minute easy runs with occasional strides. That was it. Pretty simple. Day after day, week after week. You don't need to always be ramping your training to be getting fitter. A build up does not have to actually mean more each time. I ran a few races along the way as fitness tests. After 5 months I ran a 5K in 18:14 (pleasantly surprised.) A couple weeks later I ran a HM in 1:25 (a reality check--aerobic fitness still not there.) Then 4 months later (about 10 months into the Quest now) I ran another HM in 1:23 on a very windy day (getting there). Then 2 months after that I ran a 5K in 17:59 (almost ready now). That was Memorial Day weekend, almost the exact anniversary of the Quixotic Quest. In early July I ran another 5K, this time in 17:49 and that confirmed, for me, I was ready to take on a marathon. I could now run sub 18 any time I wanted. To do all of this, I did almost no running at or near 5K pace. Almost no short, fast intervals of any kind. This was basically all base mileage and occasional cruise intervals, tempos, hilly runs, etc. Basic fitness stuff. They key was consistency and time. THe reason I could run a fast(ish) 5K of pure base was that for me, a sub-18 is not near the edge of my genetic potential. And I don't think a sub-20 is for you either. Based on your training paces I don't think a 20 minute 5K is a stretch for you--you have the capacity to go much, much faster than that eventually and you can get well under 20 with just base. Your priorities for the time being should be 1. weekly mileage, 2. long cruise intervals and tempos, 3. occasional short strides for speed maintenance. Basically you just need to run a lot and vary speed and distance. Be patient, take a long-term view and--most importantly--love the work. You have to keep the love or you won't stick with it long term. You have to have days--lots of them--when the run is the reward. It has to be about more than the external goal. None of us on this board will ever be in the World Championships 5000 meter final--this is really about making the rest of our lives better. If it becomes work, you need to chill out for a while and run for running's sake. And when you race, RACE! Go all in with no backup plan. Be smart, but be prepared to empty the tank in the end, go way outside your comfort zone. Give yourself an opportunity for a breakthrough, and then take advantage of the opportunity. And have fun. Mike

                    Runners run.


                    I've got a fever...

                      Excellent discussion here. I totally agree with the 3x1-mile workout at goal pace. It's a great workout/predictor/confidence builder for the 5k. You can also plug your current PR (20:15) into the McMillan calculator to get an idea of target paces for other workouts (400m, 800m intervals, etc.). Some other good 5k workouts (got them from a book called Great Workouts for Popular Races by Owen Anderson): ■12 x 400m (1:27~1:31 is your McMillan target pace) ■6 x 800m (2:58~3:06 is your McMillan target pace) ■4 x 1200m @ current 5k pace with 3~4 minutes recovery (surge during the 2nd lap of each rep -- helps you improve the "middle" of your race. ■3 x (600-1000) with 4min recovery superset. In a superset, there is no break between the 600 and 1000m intervals. You blast the 600m hard, then slow down into your current 5k pace for the remaining 1000m. So it's really a varied-pace 3x1600m. The idea is that running the first 600m hard makes the race-pace 1000m part feel easier. And of course, build that aerobic base with easy miles. Mikeymike is right in saying that this is probably more important than specific speedwork. Ed4, what %Max HR did your target for "easy" pace?

                      On your deathbed, you won't wish that you'd spent more time at the office.  But you will wish that you'd spent more time running.  Because if you had, you wouldn't be on your deathbed.

                        All good advice. I'll say a little more about the psychological aspects of training. As folks have said, consistency and patience are the key words. Once a certain level of fitness is reached, your improvement will move much more slowly, and it will move as a series of plateaus. You'll find yourself struggling to knock 5 seconds off your PR for a month or two, and then WHAM, in one race, you'll run 30 seconds faster. You'll have a breakthrough. I've found that these breakthroughs are somewhat inexplicable in terms of one specific aspect of training; they come through steady work and sometimes when you least expect it. As you approach your potential as a runner, you will need to learn how to deal psychologically with the periods in which you do not seem to be making progress. You might even go backwards for a spell, particularly during periods of heavy training. Have faith that steady work over a period of months and even years will bring you the results you want. This faith will provide the consistency that's necessary to be the best runner that you can be. The other side of the consistency coin is experimentation. It's important to stick with a training ideology or a set of workouts for a long enough period of time to give them a chance to work. Changing your strategy weekly or monthly is a bad idea. However, it is also important to shake things up every now and then, try out different ways of training to see how you respond and what type of running you enjoy the most. It's through this sort of experience that each of us develops his own training approach. One way to break through the inevitable plateaus is by shaking up your training. Also, if you want to work on your 5k PR, then race a lot of 5k's. Racing is a skill acquired through practice. Try going out hard. Try going out easy. Try surging at the mile mark. Try racing without a watch. You can get much better at racing and drop your times significantly even without necessarily improving your fitness. In my opinion, you are ready to run under 20 min right now, judging from the intervals you ran this week and your two runs on August 11. I also agree with those who have told you to set your sights high. You've got a good amount of natural talent as a runner; you're nowhere close to your potential.
                        Ed4


                        Barefoot and happy

                          Out of curiosity, how long a period was that training to go from 11min/mile->9min/mile? Was it hard to adjust to? My wife just got a HR monitor, and I of course had to try it, and found my "easy" 8/min/mi HR was alot higher than I would have expected as well. I'm planning on finishing out my "racing season" at the end of Sept, and then taking a shot at HR training for a bit. Wondering how long it was before you noticed a difference.
                          Your question made me go back and take a closer look at my data. There's a lot of variation in pace (affected by temperature and other random factors), but there's a clear downward trend. This graph shows my workouts at easy heart rate. Each point shows either the temperature, or "N" for days when I didn't record the temperature. So really my average pace wasn't quite as slow as 11 min/mile. It was only that bad on a few really hot days. And I actually had a few relatively fast runs near the beginning, but I think those are outliers based on the fact that I was still learning to control my slow pace and keep my heart rate down. The green trendline is a linear fit. However, I think my improvement is actually accelerating lately. Notice my recent workouts are mostly below the trendline, and the very latest run is way way below it (the "70" down in the corner). So I'd say I took my average pace from about 10:30 down to 9:00 in three months. Plus I feel healthier and more motivated, because my runs don't wear me out.
                          Curious about running barefoot? Visit the new barefoot running group.
                          Ed4


                          Barefoot and happy

                            I also notice from your log that you just do easy and log, so I feel I have nothing to learn from this to help me with my aim.
                            Arthur Lydiard, who pretty much wrote the book on aerobic training, used to make all his middle distance runners train just like this (going up to 100 miles per week!) for months before they did any speedwork at all. So don't be so sure that easy and long runs have no bearing on 5k performance.
                            Do you not do any tempo woor or intervals or hills etc? How do you know you are going to break 20 when you havent even been anywhere near this pace? Im intreagued.
                            Check out the Hadd article -- it addresses exactly this question. I think I can break 20 because I was already at 20:08 before any of this training, and I've measured a significant increase in aerobic ability. Everything I've seen says this will translate into faster pace at high heart rates too, but until I actually race I admit it's just an article of faith. I certainly feel a lot stronger. I'm racing a 5k in November, and sticking with the low heart rate plan until then. I'll definitely report back on how it goes. :-)
                            Curious about running barefoot? Visit the new barefoot running group.
                              Ed4, That is a dramatic graph. How have your race times changed during this time? Have you seen similar improvement in them? What sort of race are you aiming for? Also, could you describe your running before switching to HR training? How long had you been running? Have you done anything else besides running with a low heart rate (e.g. more miles, more frequent quality sessions, greater daily consistency,...)? I ask these questions because my ultimate goal is not to improve the pace of my "easy" heart rate, but my racing times. I hesitate to assume a direct relationship there, so it would be nice to know some context or hear your experience as to this relationship. __ *Modified to add: I see from your previous post that you are asking yourself some of these same questions. Good luck!


                              Slow-smooth-fast

                                This is fascinating stuff....thankyou to the great guy who strarted the thread Smile I really love the idea of using the heartrate to dictate running pace. I have a garmin 305 but have never actually used the hr monitor function. I think I may get it out soon ands give it a whirl to improve my aerobic fitness. It does indeed sound so logical now. I love this stuff, always been a technophile, and this stuff will suit me to the ground, think I will get my calculator, spreadsheets, rulers and give it a go. One question, how do I really determine my heart rate zones? I mean at the moment I am going to want to find my easy hr zone, but what I now perceive as easy may not necessarily be easy according to my hr. Sorry for my naivety on the subj, but never really worked with hr zones. Smile

                                "I've been following Eddy's improvement over the last two years on this site, and it's been pretty dang solid. Sure the weekly mileage has been up and down, but over the long haul he's getting out the door and has turned himself into quite a runner. He's only now just figuring out his potential. Consistency in running is measured in years, not weeks. And over the last couple of years, Eddy's made great strides" Jeff 14 Jan 2009

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