While it is sometimes overshadowed by longer races like the marathon, racing a 5k is a true test of speed and endurance. This distance is deceptively tough! Learn how to structure your training to engineer your own PR in your next 5k.
Chris, looking fast
Setting your sights on a new PR at any distance can be a great way to stay focused and motivated through weeks of training. While we often like to overcomplicate the nitty gritty details of daily workouts, it’s far more important to prioritize some of the broader concepts in training, including capacity-building and specificity.
If you’re looking to run faster at any distance, start by maximizing your aerobic capacity. This means gradually developing the sustained mileage that your body can handle without overloading to the point of injury.
Second, every type of racing, from 800 meters on the track to a mountainous ultramarathon, will require training specificity. Just as it sounds, this means structuring your training to mimic what you’ll face on race day, in terms of pacing, distance, and elevation.
And finally (because this is Strength Running after all), don’t neglect the importance of strength training to support your body’s ability to run far and fast. While every runner should implement some form of strength work, it becomes even more essential for master’s runners to help maintain muscle, mobility, and prevent injury.
How to engineer a 5k PR with Chris Robinson
So what does all this look like in practice? This week’s coaching call with Team Strength Running member Chris Robinson will help put all the pieces together. This episode originally aired in 2021 but remains useful and relevant for any runner hoping to take their racing to the next level.
Chris is a cross-country coach at Eureka College who has raced a variety of distances from 5ks to ultras. His sub-20 5k PR came several years ago in the midst of primarily aerobic half-marathon training. Since then his training has varied in consistency, as he has often put the needs of his collegiate runners ahead of his own.
To challenge himself, Chris planned to race a 5k every month of the year as motivation to get back to consistent training and earn a new PR at the distance. We discuss his running background and training history, then delve into what he can do moving forward to train for a PR without getting burned out or injured from monthly racing. Our conversation covers:
- How Chris has struggled in the past with training structure
- Why increasing volume should be his initial priority
- How to implement speed maintenance work and strength training
- Strategies to keep his easy runs truly easy
- Why capacity building also improves your ability to sharpen your fitness
- Creating a plan to gradually make workouts more challenging and race-specific
If you’re looking to improve in the 5k or just learn how to improve your training structure, you’ll enjoy my conversation with Chris!
Links & Resources from the Show:
- Learn more about Team Strength Running
- Read more about training as a masters runner
- Structure your training to sharpen for a 5k
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Thank you to our Performance Training Journal!
We’re also brought to you by our very own Performance Training Journal, which is now available on Amazon. Since I started running in 1998, I’ve kept a hardcopy training journal. Holding a tangible log, writing in it daily, and reflecting on the ups and downs of running is a surefire way to improve.
This hardcopy training journal helps you focus on the training metrics that matter, prioritizes a long-term outlook so you don’t take any shortcuts, and maintains your motivation with strategic self-praise. With a no-frills, functional design, the Performance Training Journal includes coaching advice on racing, injury prevention, strength training, and more. It will guide you through race scheduling, how to plan your race morning, the best workouts for endurance runners, and encourage you to track your personal bests over time.
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