The 5km run has become a benchmark of fitness for athletes. It’s a tricky distance to negotiate because it blends speed with endurance, and can take quite a few attempts to master.
More athletes than ever before are now interested in getting faster after devoting more time to running during the gym closures of the coronavirus lockdowns.
Instead of just heading out the door and trying to run as hard as you can, there are a number of smarter practical ways to get your best time.
Here are Built for Athletes’ four top tips to running a 5k PB.
Include Interval Training At Race Intensity
You need to train your body to get used to running at race pace in order to run your best 5k.
Doing some intervals about once a week is the most effective way to do this.
An example session could be 4-5 x 1km at your target 5k pace with a 3-minute walking rest in between. As you get stronger, you can slowly reduce the rest to progress the session.
Build Your Base
Runners often talk about the aerobic and anaerobic systems, and scientists tell us that a 5k is about a 95% aerobic event. That means a big factor in determining performance is aerobic fitness.
Aerobic fitness can be improved by doing lots of easy runs at a conversational pace, combined with one or two sessions of faster interval work in between.
Therefore, focussing on the volume of easy running you are doing should eventually lead to a better 5k time.
Learn How To Run Fast
In addition to sessions at your target race pace and slower easy runs, it can be very beneficial to do some work at faster intensities.
Performing hill sprints or short bursts of running can help you to learn the technique needed to run fast, allowing you to cover ground more efficiently.
The 5k is a very difficult distance, and when you’re pushing your body to new limits you are going to encounter pain.
Finding the state of mind that helps you deal with that pain is crucial.
All top athletes have their own methods. Marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge, for example, has a habit of smiling in the latter part of his races to trick his body into thinking he’s ok.
CrossFit champion Mat Fraser says he makes himself terrified of the pain he’s about to endure so that when he’s competing, it’s never as bad as he expected and he’s able to push through.