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5 km advanced running guide

This training guide will get you improving your 5 km time in 8 weeks.

For runners who have finished numerous 5 km races and longer events and want to push themselves even further, the 5 km ‘Personal best’ training guide helps you reach your maximum – your personal best (PB).

To achieve your PB you need to improve both your endurance and your speed. The best way to do this is through a combination of running more kms, running faster and by also combining distance and speed.

This training guide incorporates these principles to improve your endurance and speed so that you can run your PB on race day.

Download your 5 km 8-week training guide as a pdf

Training days explained

Run: This refers to running at a pace that you are comfortable with. The key is that you cover the distance.

Run fast: There are six runs in this guide that are defined as ‘run fast’ – there is no specific definition for this other than it needs to be faster than the comfortable pace you regularly run at. Get into the habit of timing your regular runs and your fast runs to ensure you are stepping up the speed a little.

Long runs: Each weekend the guide includes a long run. Run these at a comfortable pace, don’t think about speed or distance, just enjoy getting the kms in your legs. For the Sunday runs, structure it in minutes, not kms, it is also a good opportunity to try out new courses or even go off road with some trail running.

Interval training: To improve speed you need to up your pace. Interval training involves running at an increased pace followed by running recovery at a slower pace. Run 400m hard and recover by jogging and/or walking 400m. Before interval training it is important to warm-up by jogging a km or two, stretching, and doing a few sprints of 100m. Cool down afterwards with a short jog.

Tempo runs: This training technique involves continuous runs with an easy beginning, a build up in the middle, then ease back and cruise to the finish. A typical tempo run begins with 5-10 minutes easy running, continues with 10-15 faster running, and finishes with 5-10 minutes cooling down.

Rest: You can’t train well unless you are adequately rested. The training guide includes up to two rest days and the easy 4.5km runs scheduled for Mondays also help you rest for hard workouts on other days. The final week before the 5km race is a rest week. Taper your training so you can be ready for a peak performance on race day.

Stretch + strengthen: Stretching is key to a strong, supple body and should be done daily. Strength training, particularly for your core muscles, is an important focus of this training guide. Bodyweight-based activities like push-ups, chin-ups or dips are beneficial or light weights with high reps at your local gym. Mondays and Wednesdays would be good days to undertake strength training (optional). 

The training guide is just that, a guide – it is important to make it work for you. If you want to do long runs on Saturday rather than Sunday, simply change the days. Or if you miss a run you can make it up on one of your rest days.

Download the full guide here.

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