Planning a 5k PR: A New Behind-the-Scenes Coaching Call with Coach Chris Robinson

Reaching a new goal requires you to build your capacity to run more miles with less effort, and then fine-tune your training to the distance of your choice. These are simple concepts, but require some planning to execute them successfully!

Setting a goal for a new PR – whether it’s a faster time, a longer distance, or another challenge – is a great way to get motivated and push yourself in training.

As a new runner, PRs happen frequently as you improve rapidly and tackle different types of races.  But as an established runner, it becomes more important to structure your running to help you get the most out of your training.  

Even the most well-intentioned runners can make mistakes when planning their training:

  • Not running enough weekly mileage to maximize training potential
  • Neglecting speed “maintenance” work like strides, fartleks, and form drills
  • Running too hard on easy days, and not pushing hard enough in workouts
  • Avoiding strength training

Progress and improvement are what keep runners motivated and hungry to stay consistent and work hard, but these common mistakes can hold us back.  As a master’s runner, it becomes even more important to address any weaknesses in training.

This week’s guest on the podcast has raced distances ranging from 5k to ultras. Although he’s always been willing to put in the work, he has felt challenged by trying to create a successful training structure for himself.

Chris Robinson is a Team Strength Running member and the Cross Country Head Coach at Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois. While his work as a coach has sometimes made his training take a backseat to that of his athletes, he’s setting some exciting new goals for 2022.  

Chris is 49 and set some speedy PRs several years ago, including a 1:37 half marathon and a sub-20 5k.  Looking ahead to 2022, he’s setting the goal of running a 5k every month to rebuild training consistency and focus on getting faster.

An unexpected 5k PR

Chris ran a 19:56 5k with little specific training – he was simply running workouts with training partners who were working toward a fast half marathon. Now he’s ready to see just how much time he can take off that already impressive PR, but wanted some insight into how to make that goal a reality.

On this week’s podcast, we’ll take a closer look at Chris’ running background and talk about many aspects of his training:

  • What was his running like when he set his PR’s, and how has it changed?
  • What does his current training look like? What are his recent race performances?
  • How can Chris structure his training to accomplish his goals?
  • What are the fundamental aspects of his training to help him stay healthy while getting faster?

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Thank You InsideTracker!


Our show is supported by our longtime sponsor InsideTracker. Today, more than ever, it’s essential that we’re making the right decisions to keep our bodies healthy. To help us be resilient, prevent over-training, and optimize our running to get the most from it.

InsideTracker is the ultra-personalized nutrition platform that analyzes your blood and DNA biomarkers along with your lifestyle habits to help you optimize your body and reach your goals.

InsideTracker’s patented system will transform your body’s data into knowledge, insights, and a customized action plan of science-backed recommendations. The data can help you determine whether you’re running too much, not enough, or have some other issues that could be affecting your recovery or performance.

I’ve had my own blood drawn with InsideTracker several times and have been amazed at the valuable information that they provide. Not only are the results very detailed, but they also share guidance for how to improve any markers that are out of range.

If you’re ready to take control of your health and optimize your training, InsideTracker offers a selection of plans that best suit your needs with a limited time 25% discount.

Thank you Elemental Labs!

A big thanks to Elemental Labs for their support of this episode! They make electrolyte drinks for athletes and low-carb folks with no sugar, artificial ingredients, or colors. And you can get a free sampler pack of 4 flavors and 8 individual packets when you pay $5 in shipping.

Elemental Labs’ products have some of the highest sodium concentrations that you can find. Anybody who runs a lot knows that sodium, as well as other electrolytes like magnesium and potassium, are essential to our performance and how we feel throughout the day.

The citrus flavor has quickly become my favorite. I’m drinking one a day now to help me get enough fluids in our dry Colorado air. It’s tasty and delicious and I find that I’m not peeing every 45 minutes throughout the day, which might be an indication I wasn’t eating enough sodium.

There’s now mounting evidence that higher sodium intake levels are not unhealthy – and athletes need substantially more than your typical sedentary person. Of course, ask your doctor if you’re worried. But for those athletes running outside in the heat, an electrolyte replacement makes a lot of sense.

They just released their first new flavor of 2021, their most requested flavor, watermelon salt. So check out Elemental Labs to try their new flavor or get a free sampler pack. 

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