Many runners adopt the “more is better” philosophy when it comes to their training. But if five miles is good it doesn’t necessarily follow that eight or ten miles is better. Volume is not always the most important aspect of training. Intensity can be an overlooked part of a successful plan to achieve a new 5-K PR. Instead of emphasizing miles completed each workout and each week, start thinking about speed. It may seem obvious, but to run faster you have to practice running fast. This plan is best suited for people who’ve been running for a year or more and have competed in a race or two. You’ll run 3 times a week, a tempo run, repeats and a long run. Each run focuses on achieving a specific effect. You can also perform brief weight-training sessions on a couple of the off days.
Tempo is on Your Side
The tempo run will improve your ability to maintain speed longer, the key to shaving seconds or even minutes off your previous best time. After a complete warm-up run three miles at your 5-K pace plus 20-40 seconds per mile. Resist the temptation to over run one or even two of the miles at better than your 5-K pace only to have to slog through the final mile (source). Keep the pace as consistent as you can.
Run Fast, Repeats
Running fast teaches your body to run faster. Although it sounds obvious, it can be an overlooked component of a running program. These repeats aren’t run at a sprint, but you’ll have to push yourself a little on these. Perform five or six 400-yard repeats 10 seconds faster than your 5-K pace (source).
If you prefer to run longer distances of say 800 or 1,200 yards, run them at your 5-K pace.
The Long and Short of It
The last run of the week is the longest run, but long is relative. For a marathoner, five or six miles are just the warm-up, but for this program six miles is plenty. Run this one at your 5-K pace plus 70-90 seconds. The tempo run worked on your ability to maintain speed, but this run is more about running efficiency. Running for longer periods helps train your body to use proper mechanics so even when you’re tired you’ll be able to maintain form. You’ll be finishing stronger as you close in on a new 5-K PR.