Finishing a 5k race is a great accomplishment for beginners and for experienced runners. Beginners can take pride in finishing a 5k while road running veterans can push themselves to test their speed.
The 5k is a very challenging distance because it requires the perfect combination of speed and endurance. While a lot of distance runners have no problems with endurance, many of them lack the speed to perform well in a 5k race. The reason a lot of endurance runners don't run a fast 5k is because they do not do enough speedwork.
If your goal is to run a faster 5k, then it is important to train your body to pick up the pace. This is where a progressive interval workout will help you nail your next 5k time trial or race. If you have been running a lot of miles but your 5k time isn't getting any faster then it's time to spice up your workouts with some interval training.
Since interval workouts are intense, it's important to give yourself plenty of time to recover before and after your workout. Therefore, it's important to give yourself at least 48 hours between two interval workouts. If you are new to speed training, you should try to do just one interval training workout per week. Also, if you are sore from a previous workout, then it is best to do an easy recovery run as opposed to an interval training session. Then, once you feel that your legs are relatively fresh, you can do another interval workout.
All you really need for a great interval training workout is a Gymboss timer.
Before you start your workout, it is important to warm up for 10 to 15 minutes. Warming up will help you prevent injuries as well as mentally prepare you for the workout. A slow jog with a few dynamic stretches will be a sufficient warm-up. Your warm-up jog should be very slow and you should be able to easily carry on a conversation.
During your warm-up, you may also want to do a few relaxed strides as well as A, B, and C drills.
Speed Workouts to Improve your 5k Time
As you know, in order to run faster, you need to work on your speed. If you are wondering how fast you should be running when doing interval training, then there is a very simple way to figure it out, taking your fitness level into consideration.
To determine how fast you should be going, you can use the "rate of perceived exertion". Rate of perceived exertion is based on a scale from 1 to 10 that allows you to gauge how challenging an activity is. On this scale, 1 is very easy and 10 is extremely difficult. When doing interval training, your rate of perceived exertion should be anywhere between 7 and 9.
2 on, 1 off interval workout
To do this workout, set your Gymboss timer for 2 minutes and 1 minute for 6 repeats. This workout is very similar in intensity to the 400m repeats that are very popular amongst 5k specialists. After an adequate warm-up, run at a faster pace for two minutes, where your rate of perceived exertion is anywhere between 7 and 9. Then, rest for 1 minute. Your one minute of rest could either be a slow jog or a walk. Repeat this sequence for a total of 6 times when you do this workout for the first time. After you've done this workout a few times, you can gradually increase the number of repetitions by one or two every few subsequent weeks.
Three and Ones Interval Workout
This interval workout resembles 800m repeats. However, even if you don't have access to a track, you can still do this workout using your Gymboss timer. To do this particular workout, set your Gymboss timer for 3 minutes and 1 minute for 5 repeats (to start with). After a sufficient warm-up, run at a faster pace for three minutes, where your rate of perceived exertion is anywhere between 7 and 9. Your pace should be slightly faster than your 5k goal pace because you are only doing these for three minutes at a time. Then, rest for 1 minute. Repeat this sequence for a total of 5 times the first time you try this workout. If you feel that 5 repetitions is easy for you, then you can gradually increase the number of repetitions by 1 every few subsequent weeks, until you can comfortably do 10.
After your interval workout, you should do a 5-10 minute cooldown jog followed by some stretching. A cooldown will allow your heart rate to decrease as well as help you recover from your workout.
If you do these interval workouts consistently, you will definitely notice an improvement in your 5k time.