Feel like you’re in a rut with your training and looking for a few new workouts to spice things up this spring? Here are a few workouts to shake things up and get your body primed for improved speed over shorter-distance races like the 5K.
These workouts are great for athletes who are comfortable covering the 5K distance but aren’t quite ready to spike up and go get on a track. Here are a few workouts to help you break down your 5k so you can reach out and grab your next PR.
6-8 x 1:00 Hills
This is a great workout to help you build power and manage the effects of a highly acidic environment. Running hills will help you run more efficiently, as well as help build leg strength and power. Run these hills on a steady slope of four to six degrees at 5K to one-mile intensity.
Pacing is mission critical for setting a PR—especially in a race as short as the 5K. We have all executed a poor pacing strategy, and have likely paid dearly in the closing mile to mile and a half of a race.
Use this run to practice your race pace and treat this like a steady tempo or even a progression. Run the first 50 percent of your run at an easy aerobic pace, and then run the remaining 50 percent at a hard tempo (half marathon to 10K pace) on the way back. If you run the first half too hard, you will not be able to close at goal pace.
A great variation of this would be to start at half marathon pace and close toward your 5K goal pace in the second half.
Pyramid [2-3-4-3-2] or [1-2-3-2-1]
While a track can be great for running fast, a hard one to four minute effort can be done on any terrain and best just as effective. Changing gears at a high effort can be done, but you have to teach yourself this in training.
By having your fastest efforts at the front and back of this workout, you’ll be forced to run hard when you’re tired. Run this workout continuously with equal rest in this pattern [2:00 hard, 2:00 easy – 3:00 hard, 3:00 easy]. Use a range of paces with the lowest amounts of time at the fastest paces.
The fartlek is a great workout for when you need to shut off the paces alarms, and just go back to the basics. These are great runs to do on grass in a park or on a fun loop with a few small hills.
A fartlek by definition is a more freeform run, and is a great way to practice your race in your head. Practice surging from the bench to the light pole to drop the person you’re racing in your head. Surge the next hill and practice the tough parts of running a short race!
3K Time Trial
This is a benchmark workout, best used every four to six weeks in your training if you don’t have a 5K planned, or you’re looking to gauge fitness but not run a full race.
Take plenty of time to warm up and get your body ready— if you don’t already use a dynamic warm up to get you race ready! Once you’re warmed up, get into the 3K time trial—the goal is to run your goal race pace or even a little faster than your 5K pace.
Close out with a similar length cool down and you’re ready to convert your 3K time to see where you stand. Use this sparingly as it should feel like a minor race effort.
These are a just a few workouts you can use to help spice up your 5K workouts without getting on a track, and will definitely help you better dial in your next 5K.
Remember that the goal of any workout is to build your ability to manage the pace for as long as you can. Keeping this in mind as you build your own schedule will help you get to your next start line with clear goals and strategy in mind.
Athletes’ Choice Winner: Running
This article was one of the most popular on TrainingPeaks in 2018. To see all the winners, visit the Athletes’ Choice 2018 Page.