Improve Your 5km Personal Best
– By Zander Prinsloo
We are now on the final week of training for 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.
Over the last 3 weeks, we have built a solid foundation and significantly increased your training intensity. This week is split into two parts. The first half has 3 key sessions (speed, race pace, and tempo runs) that maintain and solidify the improvements you have made over the previous 3 weeks. By the middle of the week you should be ready to run at a faster pace than ever before and comfortable at sustaining that pace for longer than you thought possible.
The second half of the week is about tapering. Here we take it easier to make sure we are fresh next week Monday. This is why the speed run takes place on Monday so that the two toughest runs (the speed and race pace runs) are over by Wednesday.
Good luck! 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 – Speed Intervals
Advanced: 10 x 800m (or 200 seconds) at slightly above goal Race Pace, with 120s walk/rest in between.
Intermediate: 8 x 800m (or 240 seconds) at slightly above race Pace, 120s recovery walks in between
The last speed session before race day! This 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. You are doing 2 additional repeats this week to make sure you solidify those speed gains and to get your body used to recovering quickly.
You should aim at running near your max heart rate. It is going to get intense, so make sure you are properly warmed up!
Tuesday – Easy Run
Advanced: 45 minutes Easy Run
Intermediate: 40 minutes Easy Run
This is the longest easy run we have done. You are not putting too much strain on your body at this pace, however, because the back-end of the week will be a tapering period you still want to spend quite a few kilometres on your feet at the start of the week.
Your pace should be substantially slower than your tempo run and you should be able to sustain a conversation at this pace. It will boost your aerobic base and help you run further than you previously could.
Wednesday – Race Pace
Advanced: 3 x 2.5km at Goal Race Pace, 90s Walk in between
Intermediate: 3 x 2km at Goal Race Pace, 90s Walk in between
Today’s workout will get you used to running at the pace at which you will break that PB. The breaks between repeats are slightly shorter and for the advanced programme the repeats are slightly longer than last week. When race day comes we want to be comfortable and confident in our ability to sustain the goal race pace. Make sure to give it your all, but remember to warm up and cool down appropriately.
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 – 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.
Saturday – Recovery and Stretching
You are now in the tapering phase! That we means we are decreasing training load over the next two days to make sure you are fresh on Monday. The recovery day is an important part of your tapering process and will make sure that you are able to cash in on the fitness and speed gains from the week. As emphasised throughout the programme, 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. This process is known as ‘super compensation’.
Make sure you do something light today, either by doing some stretching or going for a walk. Getting the blood flowing will help with recovering from yesterday’s tempo run and ensure you are ready for race day on Monday.
Sunday – Easy Run
Advanced: 20 min Easy Pace
Intermediate: 15 min Easy Pace
Tomorrow is race day. You have done exceptionally well over the 4 weeks so far and will be ready to beat your previous best tomorrow. Today is about stretching the legs a bit before tomorrow. Take it very easy and resist the urge to race today. Leave that for tomorrow!
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! We cannot wait to see how you perform tomorrow.
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