Hey, speedy!

How to run a fast 5k

Do you ever wonder how people run such ridiculously quick times for 5k? I know I do. My 5k PB is nothing extraordinary (19.58) but it’s not the slowest time recorded in history either.

A few months ago, I ran a track 5k at the track session I go to every other Tuesday. There were some blokes there who ran under 14 minutes – under 14 minutes. They don’t even look labored with each passing lap either. So how do they do it?

Well, firstly it’s about down to experience – some of these blokes are well into their 40s and have most likely been running their whole lives. That’s a lot of miles and a lot of physical conditioning under their hydration belts.

Secondly, you just have to accept that some people have been born with a genetic talent for running. There’s a huge debate surrounding this topic so I’ll try not to say anything too controversial… but I firmly believe that some people just ‘have’ something when it comes to running and even if you trained to the exact same schedule as them, you’d never be quite as quick.

Look at Usain Bolt and Mo Farah. Both world-class athletes that have clearly been born with some sort of genetic talent for running so fast hence why, even with established coaching; their competitors rarely steal their glory.

I think we’d all throw the towel in if we compared ourselves to those kind of sporting heroes so like I always say, compete against yourself and try to better your own times. If you beat someone else in the process, great, if you don’t – it’ll only feed your hunger to succeed more.

So here are my top tips for running a fast 5k:

  1. Go over distance in training – 5k is 3.1 miles but if you have only run up to 3 miles in training, your body won’t be conditioned to run the distance well. You need to run up to 4/5 miles so that your body is comfortable to run the distance at an intense pace.
  2. Build a speed session into your weekly schedule – whether it’s on the track, a long stretch of road or even on the treadmill, pushing your body and mind out of their comfort zones and running at an intense pace (with a sensible recovery) will speed up your legs, ensure your lungs can cope and train you to thrash it out rather than bumble along.
  3. Do the math – know your numbers! So if you want to run a sub 20 5k you’ll have to be able to maintain below 6.30 minute miling. Work on running one 6.30 minute mile to start with then build it up. Don’t expect that on the day that ability will just be there if you haven’t built it up. Running is magical but it’s not magic.
  4. Pick a flat course – make it as easy for yourself as possible. Why not? If you can find a fast, flat 5k course, you’re giving yourself the best chance possible of running a time you’re proud of. When it’s recorded online, it’s not going to have ‘but was a flat course’ written next to it.
  5. Get away fast – place yourself in a good position starting out. Don’t get stuck in a crowded space and not able to fire on all cylinders when the gun goes off.

Hope you’ve found those tips useful and that you’re all enjoying your running :]

Keep up!