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If your barrier is not knowing how to train effectively to hit a PB or PR (for our American friends), are too time strapped to even contemplate such a feat, if it is that you lack the self belief and confidence to take on the 3.1 miles or 5 kilometres that separate you from can't to can, then this blog is for you.
But...I can't do it... Absolute nonsense. Yes you can.
Well I don't have a Personal Best / Record (PB/PR) I can't even run 5km... Absolute nonsense. Yes you can (barring any genuine medical or life issues of course).
What if you could start a training plan that is simple, takes less than 4.5 out of your 168 available hours in a week, and helps you to realise your potential.
Let's keep it simple, you need 3-4 runs in a week which will stimulate the different energy systems to run a solid 5km time.
The Easy Run - If you are a beginner include 2 of these in your run schedule and exclude the tempo run below (unless you have a good base level of fitness). If you are improving it will depend on your current training schedule but for now lets presume you run 3-4 times per week already, 1 of these runs should be a long easy run anywhere up to 90 minutes and 1 a shorter run up to 45 minutes. The aim is to deplete the body of glycogen (carbohydrates) stored in the muscles. The body then learns to store more which means you are less likely to run out and fatigue. Easy Long runs are good for all distances whether you are a 5k runner or are planning on tackling something longer. It will help you to develop stamina!
The Tempo Run - If you are a beginner and starting from scratch for now forget this run, and focus on 2 easy runs a week with an intervals session - see below. For those of you who are looking to improve your times, if you are not already doing this session you definitely should be. It is a 7/10 effort which is designed to help you hit and stay at your aerobic threshold, i.e. the point before lactic acid floods your muscles and causes you to feel that sensation where you simply can't run anymore. This run if included once a week in your training plan will help you to delay that response, so that when you race you can hold a quicker pace for longer.
High-End Intervals - These sessions are used to push the top end of your energy system (anerobic threshold), and get your body and mind used to harder efforts. The idea is to teach yourself to deal with different circumstances such as surging mid-race to overtake a fellow runner, to deal with changes in terrain - e.g. hills, and to cope with running hard when it hurts.
So what does this look like on paper?
Well below... I have included a generic 5km, 9 week plan so you can hit your PB. If you are a beginner I have supplied a link to the couch to 5k plan, although there is the option for something more personalised if you are already fairly fit.
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Beginners: click here https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/get-running-with-couch-to-5k/. This app will talk you through an effective and safe way to get running and achieve your first 5k!
If you would like something more personalised drop us a message and we can book in a quick chat to help tailor a plan suited to your schedule, ability and confidence levels.
Improvers: as above personalised plans are available, but to rock the PB here is a simple solution for you, these are main sets only and do not include warm-ups, run drills, cool downs and stretching, all of which should be included in a personalised plan.
It is based on you being able to run 4 times a week, and being able to give around 4-4.5 hours of time a week to training:
SUNDAY: Easy Run one, 1 hour per week, 3/10 effort, enjoy the scenery, you should be able to talk throughout. Increase by 5 minutes per week, upto 90 minutes.
During week 9 (race week), chop this run.
TUESDAY: Intervals Run, roll through these sessions: (Approx. 1 hour incl. warm up, cool down and stretching).
- Weeks 1-3: 1 minute hard - 8/10 effort, 1 minute walking recovery x 7-10 sets. Progression: Increase the time to 2 mins hard in week 2, and 3 mins hard in week 3
- Weeks 4-6: 800m hard, 90s recovery, 400m hard, 90s recovery (x 4 sets) - 8/10 effort.
Progression: Increase to 6 reps in week 5, and 7 reps in week 6.
Quick side note: Reps = Repetitions.
- Weeks 7-9: 2km hard (7/10 effort), 4 x 30s hill sprints, 2km hard (8-9/10 effort). Tip: Leave this as is during the last 2 weeks before race week.
Tip 2: Race week: remove the hill sprints, and include 4 x 10s strides.
WEDNESDAY: Easy Run two, 30 minutes per week, 3/10 effort, enjoy the scenery, you should be able to talk throughout. Increase by 5 minutes per week, upto 45 minutes. Do some strides at the end i.e. 10 paces at just above 5km race pace, maintain form though and do not overstride.
FRIDAY: Tempo Run. You should be able to hold this pace for an hour and be able to say the odd word throughout. (Approx. 1 hour incl. warm up, cool down and stretching).
Weeks 1-3: 1km x 5 (60s recovery) - 7/10 effort
Weeks 4-6: 1M (Mile) x 3 (60s recovery) - 7/10 effort
Weeks 7-8: 3-4 Miles: Start at tempo pace, increase this by 10s per mile through your tempo run, it will get harder as you go through, learn to embrace the suffering, if you can suffer well - you can race well.
Week 9: change this up for a 30 minutes easy run with 10 x 10 strides in the middle of the run, do it the day before your race. It's a sharpener to get everything geared up for race day.
RACE DAY: Start easier than you think you should, settle in on the first km, and then give it everything you've got with the aim of saving enough energy to maintain a constant effort, and if your intelligent about it a negative split! Suffer well. Race well.
Follow the above, stay injury free, stick to pace, and keep yourself on task and you will break your 5km PB, if you don't - email me and we'll look at why that may be. This is a generic plan which doesn't tailor for your individual circumstances, fitness, and needs. If you require something like that contact us here.
Photo by Channan Greenblatt, unsplash.
If you crack it, great! Leave us a positive Facebook review and email us, we love knowing we have helped you to realise your potential!
Ian Scarrott & Ben Plummer
Head Coach/Owner & Performance Analyst/Coach
PS. if you can only fit three runs in, drop the second shorter easy run. Also, parkruns are coming back soon, so it's the perfect time to get training, remember parkruns...