12

Make me faster - building a sub-20:00 5-k (Read 1439 times)

    I really want to start a general speed work thread, but since I'll just end up asking 100 (barely inter-related) questions, and since all the questions actually have the same purpose, here's what I really want to ask, all in one question: I want to get my 5-k PR under 20:00. How do I do it? (And how soon can it be done?) Some basic info * Current PR is 22:39; I could maybe run 22:00 if I pushed it, with the right course and weather. * I'm not likely to consistently do more than 35-40 miles per week. * A long time ago - in my early 20s - I could do it relatively easily. * I'll still be doing long runs for marathon training, every week or two (In other words, I'm probably not willing to focus only on 5-k training) * I'll be glad to try anything (tempo, strides, intervals at the track, whatever). Your thoughts, please. Make me faster. Modified to add: * I'm 37 * I've only been running consistently for a little over a year.
    E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com
    -----------------------------

    Scout7


    CPT Curmudgeon

      When is this target 5k? A time frame would be helpful, but isn't overly necessary. You need to drop about 160 seconds over 3.1 miles. You currently do about a 7:15-7:20 mile, and need to be at a 6:25 mile. That's a 400m of about 1:35 (not exact, but hey, it's easier than fractions, and you like them, and we're focusing on speed for a shorter distance). With all that, I would say you need to work up to doing a 6:20 mile. If you can pull that, you can do 6:25 splits over 3.1. Your base seems relatively decent, but I'm not 100%. Again, here's where the time is involved. Right now, I would say that if you can, do all your runs at an easy pace ("conversational"). Make them longer. Your shortest runs should be at least 3 miles. After about 8 weeks of that, incorporate tempo runs. I would start with 1 a week for about a month, then go to 2. On the tempo runs, start by doing the first quarter easy, the second quarter a little harder, the third should be at least your current 5K pace, and the fourth throttle back. After that, I would start doing speed work once a week. I would do ladders (400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, 400), negative 800s (do the second 400 faster than the first), and intervals. Keep a tempo run a week in there too, and you might add some form drills (Heel kicks, High knees, etc.). Also, do a time trial, on your own, maybe once a month to see where you stand. Do it on the same course every time (or the track).
        When is this target 5k? A time frame would be helpful, but isn't overly necessary.
        No specific target race - but I'd like to do it by next summer. Say June.
        On the tempo runs, start by doing the first quarter easy, the second quarter a little harder, the third should be at least your current 5K pace, and the fourth throttle back. After that, I would start doing speed work once a week. I would do ladders (400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, 400), negative 800s (do the second 400 faster than the first), and intervals. Keep a tempo run a week in there too, and you might add some form drills (Heel kicks, High knees, etc.). Also, do a time trial, on your own, maybe once a month to see where you stand. Do it on the same course every time (or the track).
        How long (total distance) on the tempo runs? Just like a regular run distance? When I start doing the intervals - do I replace one of the two tempo runs with them? How many reps on the intervals? Could you explain the drills a little bit? Thanks. Smile
        E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com
        -----------------------------

          * I'm not likely to consistently do more than 35-40 miles per week.
          Why is this? If there is a way to bump that to even 40-50 mpw on a consistent basis you will probably see huge gains. In my own running, mileage over the long term seems to make the most difference. No other single factor is really a close second. I think if you have the time, the best way to improve is to increase your mileage until you find your physical limit, then back off to about 75-80% of that limit and run at that level consistently for a long time. If you are very limited in the amount of time you have, you have a physically demanding job or an injury problem that prevents you from running more that 35-40 then I still think you can get there, it might just take longer and you will not have as much upside. Otherwise I think Scout makes some good recommendations. Mileage first, then Tempos (threshold work in general) then speed to sharpen for racing. You'll be surprised how much just mileage and tempos will get you. I don't think you need to plan your speed workouts just yet--see where the mileage and tempos get you and then adjust your speedwork for the spring/summer racing season based on that. There are a few different types of "threshold" workouts you can do for variety: Tempo runs where you do a 2+ mile warmup then run at about your 1-hour race pace for 20-30 minutes, then do a short cooldown; Tempo Intervals where you do 3 x 8 min at tempo with 3 minutes easy in between; Tempo hills (sounds like you live in an area with a lot of long hills) where you do a 8 - 10 mile run with 3-4 x 2 minute hills at tempo effort; and progression runs where you start out easy and gradually increase the pace over a several mile course so that at the end your going at maybe 10k pace for the last mile (good idea to do a 1 mile cooldown after this.) You don't have to focus on only 5k training to run a good 5K. My best 5Ks have all come after a marathon build up when I just did a few 5K specific workouts a month or two after my marathon. I'm also (about to be) 37 and I'm pretty sure my lifetime PR's at most distances are in the future. One thing I am definitely more aware of now than 5 years ago, though, is that I need more recovery time. I only do 2 "big" runs a week and make sure to get plenty of easy and recovery running in between. FWIW, here is a typical week I've been doing for the last 5+ months or so as I'm coming back from a long period of sparse training: Mon - 5.8 EASY (45-48 min) this is an utter jog Tue - 6.8 easy with 8 x 20 second strides Wed - 9.2 with 3 x 8 minute at tempo to HMP / 3 minutes easy (Big workout #1) Thu - 5.8 EASY (jog) Fri - 6.8 easy with 8 x 20 second strides Sat - 5.8 EASY (jog) Sun - 12.9 with 8 x 2 minutes on / 1 minute off and 3 x 30 seconds strides with 1 minute recoveries (Big workout #2) Not real imaginative, but it works. I've been doing this since June and gone from 175 lbs and barely able to run a single 7 minute mile to 156 lbs and just ran a 5k at 5:53 with hopes of running a half marathon in the 6:20's tomorrow. You'll notice I do run every day (usually) but that three of those days are absolute jogs. I find that I recover faster with easy jogging than from no running at all and that these easy runs make a big difference in building an aerobic base. YMMV on that of course. The key, I've found, is consistency over a long stretch: a.) figure out how much mileage you can handle based on your physical capabilities, other commitments, family etc., b.) run about 20-25% LESS than that EVERY WEEK over the LONG HAUL, c.) push the pace a bit twice a week, d.) mix in some strides to keep turnover and keep your legs strong, e.) don't race too much, f.) do race specific workouts as you get close to your goal race.

          Runners run.

            Why is this? If there is a way to bump that to even 40-50 mpw on a consistent basis you will probably see huge gains. In my own running, mileage over the long term seems to make the most difference. No other single factor is really a close second. I think if you have the time, the best way to improve is to increase your mileage until you find your physical limit, then back off to about 75-80% of that limit and run at that level consistently for a long time.
            To be honest, I'm just trying to be realistic. Consistency is not exactly my strong suit, and I'm afraid if I shot for 50 mpw, I'd do it for a couple weeks and then slack off. An "all or nothing" attitude is a problem for me. 30-35 seems pretty easy to maintain at the moment; I think I'd like to get to about 40 and stay there. I'd like to find something I can maintain permanently, and I'd guess about 40 is where I'll max out. Plus, running may not always be the focus, so a consistent pattern of more than 4-5 days a week isn't likely either. But I'll give it a shot. After I recover from my upcoming marathon, I'll focus on mileage and little else for a while. But one obvious question: how do I "find my physical limit" exactly? Do you mean wait until I start developing nagging injuries? I'll push it up to 50-60 mpw through January and see what happens. Next question: how fast should I be running easy and long runs in relation to say my current 5-k PR? Or in relation to a 4:00 marathon pace? A basic question on mileage: will it benefit me more to run 60 mpw most of it at an easy pace - or 30 mpw with most of it at a harder pace?
            E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com
            -----------------------------

            Scout7


            CPT Curmudgeon

              I agree with the upping the mileage, but do so in a fashion that you're not gonna burn out over it. As to your questions: Yes, the tempo is done in place of a regular run, over that run's set distance (if you're going for, say, 5 miles today, make it a 5-mile tempo run). Yes, replace one of the tempo runs with the speedwork. How many reps is a good question......And a tough one to give an exact answer. I would say start with doing shorter intervals, and doing about 2400m total on the intervals, and building up to the full 5k, but doing longer intevals (these would be your mile intervals). As for the drills.... http://www.runningplanet.com/articles/article_detail.asp?article_id=751 http://www.coolrunning.co.nz/articles/2004a001.html http://www.trailrun.com/directions.html
                I agree, make the mileage increases gradual. Jake, regarding finding your max, this is a gray area--basically the few times I've hit my max it was not a matter of injuries, more borderline fatigue that starts to set in after about a week or two. Thats when you know to back off. Mileage is a very individual thing. Some people need more to run well than others. I don't think you need to necessarily jump all the way up to 50-60 by January (although that might work for you) but if you just got to 40-50 on a consistent basis and basically made 40 your normal minimum with an occasional week of 45 - 50 when you have time, I think you would see a huge difference after 3-4 months of that. It would give a better base to do bigger workouts come spring, too. It's generally not a good idea to have huge fluctuations in mileage (you wouldn't want to average 30 mpw most of the time and then throw in the occasional 60 mile week) but having a baseline and occasionally having a week with 20% more mileage can work really well long term. It's not a bad thing if running a fast 5k is not the most important thing in your life. I think that is true for all but elite runners. But you can still make progress and enjoy the process of getting faster and racing well. In order to really enjoy racing and training, i think you need to make sure your goals are in proportion with what you are willing to put into it and to be realistic. None of us here are limited primarily by our natural born talent; our limits in this sport are mostly self-imposed and based on how hard we are willing to train. That's not a bad thing--its a good thing, we just need to be realistic about that. It's more important for me to be a good dad, husband, employee, etc. than run a 16:00 5K. But within the self-imposed limit of training about 6-7 hours a week, I'd like to get as fast as possible.

                Runners run.

                Scout7


                CPT Curmudgeon

                  To add something here..... I have a friend, who is currently getting ready to taper for a marathon in which he plans on BQ'ing. He just did a 5K yesterday. He managed to destroy his previous PR on the same course (he did about 20 min, this time around he did about 18 and change). So, there's a lot to be said for having a lot of miles, as well as improving short distance times while training for a marathon.
                    Hi all, Good advice from both Scout7 and mikeymike. Congrats, Mike on your half-marathon this weekend--you were rolling! I just wanted to offer a different perspective to give a point of contrast with what has been offered. I think you should see how far 35-40 miles per week gets you before jumping to 50 or 60, particularly if your goal is to get faster in the 5k. To my mind, whether or not you'll be able to run sub-20:00 will depend as much or more upon your ability to run efficiently at a fast pace rather than the size of your aerobic capacity (not that these are unrelated). Drills and strides will take you a long way in this respect. So, I would recommend that you try adding more intensity and drills to your schedule (particularly given how much you love 400's Wink ). Also, half of your weekly mileage is coming in one run, and because that run is so long, you can't use it to teach your body to run FAST. If you're training for a 5k, I'd say you don't need any runs over 1:30, and you should run once or twice a week for 30-50 minutes at the tempo-ish pace that Scout7 recommends. How about this for a rough weekly schedule: Sun: long run 8-10 miles M: easy 4miles + strides/drills T: 5 miles hard or hills W: easy 4 miles + strides/drills Th: track workout (400s or 800s or ladder at or around 5k race pace) (workout + warmup/cooldown 6 miles) F: off Sat: 5 miles hard or hills (or local road race) total miles: 33-35 Of course you would run a faster marathon at 60mpw, but if you went there now without adding some intensity at this mileage, I would be afraid that you'd be teaching yourself to run long and slow instead of fast. Finally, listen to your body. Adding intensity will also require adding rest, especially in the early adjustment period. Your log indicates to me that you can get there--you've improved tremendously lately. Good luck!
                      Afternoon all. This is all quite encouraging. I'd been running 25 (to 30 max) miles a week for ages but in the last couple of months have gone up to 30-40 gradually. I haven't done a race for ages but it will be interesting to see if I can break any PB's (or PR's as they're known on runningahead!). I always thought that i'd never making a significant PR would mean speed training which i'm rubbish at. I hate 400 reps too Mike!
                        Great, great thread. Thanks to all for the advice. And now I have a few questions/comments (who? me?):
                        I agree with the upping the mileage, but do so in a fashion that you're not gonna burn out over it. As to your questions: Yes, the tempo is done in place of a regular run, over that run's set distance (if you're going for, say, 5 miles today, make it a 5-mile tempo run).
                        Burnout is indeed a key factor I'm watching out for. It's that "all or nothing" personality thing I've got. I'm trying hard to find that balance between maximum benefit and sustainability. This is the first time I've ever built mileage slowly - usually it's a pattern of running 200 miles in a month, then taking 2 months off. Rinse/lather/repeat. Not exactly a recipe for long-term success. So the tempo runs: 1) Exactly what kind of pace should they be run at in relation to 5-k race pace? and 2) Should they be run as a single length (like say a warm-up, then 5 miles at goal pace+30 seconds) or at some kind of intervals (as in, sets of 1 mile at 5k goal pace, separated by recovery periods)? And thank you for those links on drills - some interesting stuff there.
                        but if you just got to 40-50 on a consistent basis and basically made 40 your normal minimum with an occasional week of 45 - 50 when you have time, I think you would see a huge difference after 3-4 months of that. It would give a better base to do bigger workouts come spring, too. .
                        I think that's manageable and worth trying. I've hit 40 a few weeks already without any problems. In fact, I think for the next six months or so this will be my primary focus - getting to (and staying at) a minimum 40 mpw. After those marathon recovery weeks, I'll be doing a lot of hill work over X-mas (don't have a choice, really: nothing but hills where I'll be!), and start at 40 mpw in January. Should I start tempo runs immediately at that point? At what pace? And can you explain "strides" a little more clearly? What pace do you run them at? Another question I'm suddenly fascinated by: since I'm pretty much always going to be planning on a marathon, I'll be doing at least weekly or bi-monthly long runs. What are your thoughts on the idea that long slow distance = long slow races? Will tempo work/strides/intervals take care of that?
                        It's not a bad thing if running a fast 5k is not the most important thing in your life.
                        I'll never run a 16:00 5-k. I don't think I'm capable, and even if I am, I'm not willing to do that much work. But sub-20:00 is doable. Actually, I think sub-19:00 might be doable. And that's about as far as I think I could go. Truth is that it's only the marathon distance and beyond that really interests me. But running at least a decent 5k/10k would make running in general a lot more fun (and apparently might really end up helping the marathons!) I was looking over a bunch of local 5-k results this weekend and realized that for a lot of them, at least in my age group, a sub-20:00 5-k actually gets you a top 3; in some of them, it would win an age group. Not that I particularly care about trophies, etc... but it would be nice motivation.
                        To add something here..... I have a friend, who is currently getting ready to taper for a marathon in which he plans on BQ'ing. He just did a 5K yesterday. He managed to destroy his previous PR on the same course (he did about 20 min, this time around he did about 18 and change). So, there's a lot to be said for having a lot of miles, as well as improving short distance times while training for a marathon.
                        That's really good to hear! Again, those links you posted talked quite a bit about that idea that long slow distance running can make for slow racing - and I really want to avoid falling into that trap (unless someday I'm doing nothing but ultras, I guess). Glad to hear it can be done.
                        To my mind, whether or not you'll be able to run sub-20:00 will depend as much or more upon your ability to run efficiently at a fast pace rather than the size of your aerobic capacity (not that these are unrelated). Drills and strides will take you a long way in this respect. So, I would recommend that you try adding more intensity and drills to your schedule (particularly given how much you love 400's Wink ). Also, half of your weekly mileage is coming in one run, and because that run is so long, you can't use it to teach your body to run FAST. If you're training for a 5k, I'd say you don't need any runs over 1:30, and you should run once or twice a week for 30-50 minutes at the tempo-ish pace that Scout7 recommends.
                        Your post brings up something I wonder a lot and I've mentioned above: whether I'd benefit more from more mileage or more hard work and form work. I guess the answer is there's a balance to be found- but I definitely think adding more intensity a couple times week, and some form drills, will help. I think the interval work helped more because it made me run more efficiently than anything else. I was pretty excited by my last 10-k time trial, not because it was 3 minutes faster than my previous PR, but because I managed to maintain a steady pace, and the run felt efficient - and because at the end I knew I could have run 2 or 3 more miles at the same pace with the same effort. I think more tempo work and form drills will add to that. Despite all my harping on the track work, I'm actually going to lay off it for a while, though - maybe start up again in March. As for the long runs, well, I'm reluctant to cut them down for a couple reasons. First, a lazy one: it's easier to hit my 40 mpw minimum if one run is 15-18 miles! Second, I expect to be pretty much always training for a marathon, so I'm not sure if I should be shortening the long runs. Then again, I come back to that long slow running = slow racing thing. Where do I find that balance between building aerobic capacity and building speed? Should I make the long runs every other week perhaps? Or maybe after the CMM in April spend 4-5 months focused solely on 5-k work running faster? That might not be a bad idea: start a program like you suggest with less mileage but harder running over the summer, since there won't be many marathons anyway? Start back up with long runs in early fall?
                        Your log indicates to me that you can get there--you've improved tremendously lately. Good luck!
                        Hope you're right!
                        E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com
                        -----------------------------

                        Scout7


                        CPT Curmudgeon

                          Welcome on the links. I tend to horde the things for such an occasion. Anyway, I will say that you are correct: it's a balancing act. Personally, I look at what Arthur Lydiard did as a coach, and he had his 5 and 10 k runners do mileage that would equal his marathoners. Weekly mileage, as well as long run mileage. And he was, arguably one heck of a coach. You did bring up a really good point, about the LSD. It shouldn't be long SLOW distance, it should be long STEADY distance. You want to be able to maintain consistent pace throughout the race, so that's what you should do in training. As for the tempo run....It's run as one distance, but what you're going to do is gradually accelerate up to 5K pace and hold that pace for a specified distance or length of time (whichever works easier, usually time since most of my runs I don't know where the splits are). So, I would do 2 miles at my comfortable pace, then accelerate up to my 5k pace and hold it for about 2-3 minutes, then bring it back down gradually to regular pace. As you build up capacity, you'll increase the sustainable length of the faster part. Does that make sense at all? I hope so..... For a really good read, try this: http://www.fitnesssports.com/lyd_clinic_guide/Arthur_Lydiard.htm
                            Jake, If you want to keep running marathons, then keep the weekly long run, but I think that you can alternate a medium-long run (say 10 miles) with a longer run of 15+. The week that your long run is shorter you might add some work at 5k pace if you are shooting for a faster 5k. You could also do this the week of your longer run, which would mean alternating more intense weeks with less intense weeks. What works best will just be a matter of experimentation. Another relatively easy thing to add (this was already mentioned) would be strides 2 or 3 times a week. The strides should be 60-100m, and you should focus on running fast without straining, fast turnover, and sometimes run them barefoot. I do them at the end of my runs. If you do these things and add some tempo runs, this will help your overall running (your marathon as much as your 5k). I think that they train your neurological system to be more coordinated, which will help at every pace. Scout7--Isn't 5k pace too fast for tempo runs? I call tempo runs something between 10k race pace and marathon pace (maybe 1/2 marry pace). I don't usually shoot for pace though, I shoot for that "fast but comfortable" feeling. You shouldn't be able to carry on a conversation, but you shouldn't be dumping lactic acid into your legs. I've run fast times off of very little speedwork, but I was doing all of my runs at a quality pace (within 1:00-1:30 of 5k race pace) and incorporating a few strides at the end of runs. You might also try Kenyan-style progression runs, where you start off very slow and build the pace throughout your run, eventually running the last 2-3 miles solidly under marathon goal pace (close to the "tempo pace"). These usually feel great and give confidence.
                            Scout7


                            CPT Curmudgeon

                              I would say it depends on what you're capable of. I would say near current 5K pace would be ok. He should be able to hold that for 2-3 minutes without developing too much in the way of lactic acid. If he can build the length of time that he can spend at that pace, so much the better. 5K pace, though, shouldn't be a sprint, either, and he shouldn't be going to far into oxygen debt by doing it. Of course, you could forgo the tempo runs, and do all your running at your sustainable rate. Basically, that would be a pace that is just under your aerobic threshold. That, along with lots of miles, will do a huge amount to improve speed. Anaerobic training doesn't develop speed.
                                More food for thought: http://www.runningtimes.com/rt/articles/?id=4447&page=1&c=83 The article is titled "Smashing the Myth of the 20-Miler." Is the long run over-emphasized?
                                12