Improve Your 5km Personal Best
– By Zander Prinsloo
We are now on week 3 of the 5km Personal Best Challenge. Running a 5km is a benchmark in running and fitness, but improving your time can be quite difficult. Whether you’ve hit a plateau or you’re struggling with motivation, a well-structured training programme and some support can go a long way in helping you beat your best.
This is a crucial week in your 5km PB journey. Over the last 2 weeks, we have built a solid foundation and now is the time to increase the training load before going into a milder final week. The goal is to increase intensity. The three key sessions are 1) the tempo run on Monday, 2) the speed intervals on Wednesday, 3) the race pace session on Saturday. Each session is slightly longer than the last week so that we can build up stamina and speed. Again, remember to warm up properly to prevent injuries! The easier runs build your aerobic base. They also get miles on your legs without putting too much stress on your body, allowing you to still be ready for an intense run the next day.
We are building on last week’s training by increasing speed, and running at the goal race pace. Additionally, we are incorporating a tempo run on Monday that will boost your stamina. These sessions are aimed at improving your VO2 Max (a measure of the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilise during exercise) and increasing your anaerobic threshold for long, difficult runs. Ensure that you use your rest/recovery days effectively. Your body needs it! The bulk of the time is still going to be spent on runs at an easier pace. These runs are vital for recovery and to build your aerobic base.
Keep your eye on the blog and the Instagram stories. @zan_prinsloo will be doing the advanced programme and @zahn_ekkerd will be doing the intermediate programme, so check in with us every day! (although everything will also be posted on the @lk.fitness_ page).
Tag us in your stories to keep us updated on your progress. We will be doing it with you, and we all need to share the motivation!
Let’s get running!
Monday – Tempo Run
Advanced: 50 minutes tempo run
Intermediate: 45 minutes tempo run
The purpose of the workout is to improve your VO2 Max (a measure of the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilise during exercise) and increase your anaerobic threshold for long, difficult runs. Essentially, it will build your stamina so that you can run faster for longer. It will really come in handy in the last kilometre in your 5km!
This pace should be somewhat slower than your 5km Race Pace, but faster than the easy pace used for your recovery runs. At this point, it should be difficult to sustain a conversation. For those training with heart rate monitors (which is highly recommended), this is around 85%-90% of your maximum heart rate.
Tuesday – Easy Run
Advanced: 30 minutes Easy Run
Intermediate: 20 minutes Easy Run
This run is aimed at recovering after your tempo run on Monday. It will allow your body to be ready for the rest of the week’s training. Your pace should be substantially slower than your tempo run, and you should be able to sustain a conversation at this pace. The Tuesday easy run is a bit longer than last week to increase your training load for the week to boost your endurance.
Wednesday – Speed Intervals
Advanced: 8 x 800m (or 200 seconds) at slightly above goal Race Pace, with 120s walk/rest in between.
Intermediate: 6 x 800m (or 240 seconds) at slightly above race Pace, 120s recovery walks in between
The run for today is a high intensity interval session (HIIT), aimed at improving your speed and VO2 Max. Interval training is typically more effective at bringing about VO2 Max improvements. The advanced runners are doing 2 additional repeats this week to make sure you solidify those speed gains and to get your body used to recovering quickly. The intermediate runners are now running 800m rather than 400m. The goal is to increase speed over slightly longer distances.
You should aim at running near your max heart rate. It is going to get intense, so make sure you are properly warmed up!
Thursday – Easy Run/Recovery
Advanced: 25 minutes Easy Run
Intermediate: 20 minutes Brisk Walk
After yesterday’s high intensity session, it is important to recover with an easier day. Fitness is built up in rest days where your body responds to the exercise from the previous day, and this process of alternating rest and stress (known as “super compensation”) is very effective at building fitness. So, resist the urge to run hard on your easy run/walk!
Friday – Long Run
Advanced: 60 minutes Longer Run
Intermediate: 50 minutes Longer Run
This is the longest run we have done during the 5km PB programme! it is aimed at building your aerobic base. Once again, the long run should be slower than your pace from Monday’s tempo run.
Saturday – Race Pace
Advanced: 3 x 2km at Goal Race Pace, 120s Walk in between
Intermediate: 3 x 2km at Goal Race Pace, 120s Walk in between
The race pace run is to get used to running at your goal race pace so that you are ready for race day. Each repeat is slightly longer than last week and the break is slightly shorter. When race day comes we want to be comfortable and confident in our ability to sustain the goal race pace. This session is central to what we are trying to achieve in the third week, so make sure to give it your all! Again, remember to warm up and cool down appropriately.
Sunday – Recovery
The most intense week is now behind you! As emphasised last week, recovery is a crucial component of any training plan. Not only does it help you to avoid burning out, but it is actually in the recovery phase that your body becomes fitter as a response to the stress from the week’s training. Take today easy, and do some stretching or go for a walk with your family or dog in preparation for the the last week of training. Next week will start off at a high intensity, but will become milder to ensure we are fresh on race day. Don’t forget to let us know on Facebook or Instagram (@lk.fitness_ , @zan_prinsloo, and @zahn_ekkerd) how you week went. We did it all with you, and would love to hear how you found it!
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