5k Friday: Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 9

Run a 5k 8Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 9

By the end of week eight, you ran 23 minutes straight. Nice job! This week we’re going to add to that total. We’re also adding an optional speed workout. Just as your body makes adaptations to running (increased endurance, better aerobic fitness, structural changes to your bones, joints and soft tissue), speed work improves the way your body processes oxygen, and increases your stamina by raising the lactate threshold, that point at which your body has built up lactic acid and needs to slow down. (Missed week one? Click here to get started!)

This week will start off by repeating your 23 minute run from last week. In addition to your three key workouts, you may add the optional speed workout. If you choose not to do so, just do the active recovery workout.

Remember, all workouts start with an 8-10 minute brisk warm-up walk. On your rest days, feel free to do some strength training, yoga, Pilates, etc.

Run_a_5K_Program.JPGDay One: After your warm up, run for 23 minutes. Cool down, stretch ice.

Day Two: Active recovery. After your warm up, run for 10 minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Repeat. Cool Down and stretch. Optional Speed Work: Warm up, then run for two minutes at your normal pace. For the next minute pick up the pace (think effort level of about 8-9 on a scale of 10). Slow down to your normal pace for two minutes. Repeat four more time (a total of five fast intervals). Cool down and stretch.

Day Three: Warm up, Run for 12 minutes. Walk for one minute. Run for 12 minutes. Walk for one minute. Run for three minutes, then cool down.

Day Four: Rest.

Day Five: Warm up, then run for 26 minutes. Cool down, stretch, etc.

Day Six: (Optional) Active Recovery. Warm up, run for 18 minutes. Walk for one minute, then run for three more minutes.

Day Seven: Rest.

Getting Faster

Getting_Faster.JPGRefer back to this post for information on whether you’re ready to add speed to your workout, how to find your goal pace, reasons for each workout as well as the first week of workouts to add to your training.

The Workouts:

The Long Run: At this point in your training, your long run should be at least six miles. You can keep it at that or add another half mile. To add a little mileage to your week, add a half mile to one of your other runs (not the speed workouts).

The Interval Workout: We’re pushing it a little bit this week. Mile repeats. Four times around the track. They should be run at about your 5K pace (about 90-95% of VO2Max). Recover by jogging or walking 400 meters. Repeat two more times. Cool down by walking or jogging 400-800 meters. Stretch (and don’t forget to ice after your workout!)

The Lactate Threshold Workout: On the road for this workout. After your one mile easy warm up, run two miles at slightly less that your 5k pace (about 85-90% of your maximal effort). Cool down by jogging a half mile, and finish with a stretch.

Getting_Faster.JPGRemember, in addition to these workouts, you can run another one-three days during the week, nice easy, shorter runs (recovery runs). A sample schedule can be found in this post.

Week nine is complete. Just think, just three weeks until your race! See you next week!

5k Friday: Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 7

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Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 7

While last week (week 6) was a bit of a break, that only served to make you stronger by giving your body a well deserved rest. At the end of week five, you were running 20 minutes with only one break. Fantastic! We’ll be building on that this week. (Did you miss week one? Click here.)

By the end of this week, you will be able to run your entire 20 minute workout without a break. Again, you will have three key workouts, with two other easy days (one of which is optional). Remember to listen to your body, take an extra day off if necessary, don’t skip your stretching, and finally, enjoy yourself. You’re a runner now.

Remember, all workouts begin with an 8-10 minute brisk walk, and finish with about a five minute walk, stretching, and icing. On your rest days, feel free to do some strength training, yoga, Pilates, etc.

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Day One: Repeat last week’s day six workout: Warm up. Run for 10 minutes. Walk for one minute. Repeat. Cool Down.

Day Two: Active Recovery Day. After your warm up, run for five minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Repeat two more times.

Day Three: After your warm up, run for 15 minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Run for five minutes. Cool Down.

Day Four: Rest

Day Five: Here it is! Warm up. Run for 20 minutes. Cool Down.

Day Six: (Optional) Active Recovery: Warm up, run for six minutes. Walk for 20 seconds. Repeat two more times.

Day Seven: Rest

Coming next week: Now that you can run for 20 minutes straight, we will start adding on more time/distance.

Getting Faster

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Refer back to this post for information on whether you’re ready to add speed to your workout, how to find your goal pace, reasons for each workout as well as the first week of workouts to add to your training.

The Workouts

The Long Run: After several weeks of increasing your mileage, with one cutback week, you are probably running a sufficient distance in preparation for a 5k. If you want to continue to increase your mileage, go ahead and add on a half mile to this run. If you are running six miles or more for your long run, you really don’t need to add on more at this level of training. If you choose not to increase your long run, add a half mile to one of your other runs during the week (not the speed workouts). Don’t forget to stretch.

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The Interval Workout: Back to basic speed work, on the track, 400 meter intervals. After your 10 minute warm up, run 400 meters at slightly faster than your your 5k pace (about 95% of VO2Max). Recover by jogging or walking 200 meters. Repeat 11 more times. Cool down by walking or jogging 400-800 meters. Stretch (and don’t forget to ice after your workout!)

The Lactate Threshold Workout: On the road for this basic tempo run. After your one mile easy warm up, run two miles at slightly less that your 5k pace (about 85-90% of your maximal effort). Cool down by jogging a half mile, and finish with a stretch.

Remember, in addition to these workouts, you can run another one-three days during the week, nice easy, shorter runs (recovery runs). A sample schedule can be found in this post.

Week seven is in the bag. See you next week!

5k Friday: Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 6

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Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 6

You’re going to love this week. After five hard weeks of gradually increasing your running time, we going to take a little break this week. Oh, yes, you will be doing some running, but we will cut back a bit on some of the effort. This will serve to give your body a rest, which will help you get stronger when we resume training next week.

By the end of last week, you were running 20 minutes with just one short break. This week, you will be cutting back on the time and taking an extra day off. Strength training, etc., is still okay on your rest days, but I’d suggest one day of complete rest during this week. (Did you miss week one? Click here.)

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Remember, all workouts begin with an 8-10 minute brisk walk, and finish with about a five minute walk, stretching, and icing.

Day One: After your warm up, run for five minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Repeat two more times.

Day Two: Warm up, run for seven minutes. Walk for a minute. Repeat.

Day Three: Rest.

Day Four: Run for six minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Repeat two more time.

Day Five: Rest. Completely.

Day Six: Warm up, run for eight minutes. Walk for a minute. Repeat.

Day Seven: Rest.

Ah, recovery. Feel rejuvenated after your light week. Take care of yourself and get ready for week seven.

Getting Faster

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Refer back to this post for information on whether you’re ready to add speed to your workout, how to find your goal pace, reasons for each workout as well as the first week of workouts to add to your training.

The Workouts

The Long Run: After your cutback last week, you are going to add that half mile back in to your long run.

The Interval Workout: We’re climbing the ladder this week, one of my favorite workouts. We are on the track. After your warm up, run 200 meters at your goal pace. Jog or walk 200 meters (that will be your cool down between each interval). Run 400 meters. Recover for 200 meters. Run 800 meters. Recover for 200 meters. Run 1600 meters. Recover for 200 meters. Run 800 meters. Recover for 200 meters. Run 400 meters. Recover. Run 200 meters. Cool Down. Remember since your goal is to run at about your 5k pace, or around 95% of your maximal effort, you should plan to run each interval at the same pace. So don’t blow yourself out on the 200, then have nothing left when you get to the 800.

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The Lactate Threshold Workout: Back on the road for this workout. After the warm up, run one mile at 85-90% of your maximum effort. Jog for four minutes. Repeat two more times. Cool down.

Remember, in addition to these workout, you can run another one-three days during the week, nice easy, shorter runs (recovery runs). A sample schedule can be found in this post.

Week six is complete! Halfway to your goal. See you next week.

5k Friday: Your 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 2

Run a 5kYour 12 Week 5k Training Program, Week 2

It’s time for week two of 5k Friday! This plan will help you train for and run (really run!) your first 5k! (Missed week one? Click here to get started!) I hope that you are feeling pretty good. Any aches and pains? If so, make sure that you are using that ice I recommended, and also be sure to stretch those hamstrings, quads, calves, and hips after each workout. As promised, at the end of this post I will have some advice and workouts for runners who have some racing experience and would now like to run a little faster.

At the end of last week, you were (after your walking warmup), running for 90 seconds, alternating with walking for 90 seconds. This week we will both increase the running time, reduce the walking time, and increase the number of cycles. Don’t worry, we won’t be doing all of those things in the same workout.

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Day One: Following your warmup, run for 90 seconds, then walk for 60 seconds. For the second cycle, run for two minutes, then walk for 60 seconds. Repeat both cycles. For the last cycle, run for 90 seconds, walk for 30 seconds, then run for 60 seconds. A little complicated, but you are pushing yourself here a little, with less rest and more running. Finish with your five minute walk and don’t forget the stretching and the ice!

Day Two: Repeat day one with one change. Repeat the first two cycles one additional time (total of three), then finish off as before.

Day Three: Rest. We’re not adding any more running days this week, so your rest days will be the same as last week. Some strength training or Yoga, or just some simple stretching is fine, but no running.

Day Four: Here is a bit of a challenge. Warm up. Run for two minutes. Walk for 30 seconds. Repeat four more times. One additional cycle is optional. Cool down, stretch, ice.

Day Five: Rest completely.

Day Six: Repeat day four. This time, do that extra cycle.

Day Seven: Rest day, although like day three, you can do some weights, Yoga, Pilates, etc.

Week two is now complete! Hopefully, you have purchased some good running shoes by now (if not, do it now!). Have you found that goal race?

Running Faster

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This is for those of you who are still basically beginners, but you can run at least three or four miles (or even more), have run a few races, and now would like to improve your time, possibly even earn a medal in your age division.

To help you run faster, we’re going to add three workouts to your running schedule. One of these will involve adding extra mileage. For example, if your longest run is currently three to six miles, this week, following the 10% rule, you will increase the distance by a half mile. This workout will increase your endurance.

The second workout will involve some interval training. This will entail some short to medium distances of really fast running, which will improve your VO2 Max, which is a measurement of your body’s ability to use oxygen. (Google it if you want more info.) Although there is a lot of hard work involved, you will see your overall running speed improve as if by magic.

The third workout is not quite as intense as the interval training, and will vary from week to week, but basically can be called a lactate threshold run. Your lactate threshold is the point at which your body has built up enough lactic acid and responds by needing to slow down or rest. This workout will increase your stamina, your ability to run fast for a longer period of time.

(This is a very simplified description of the science behind the above workout types. I will give you the workouts, you will get faster. To advance from that point, there are many resources that you can use to continue your progress.)

The Workouts

It is helpful to pick a “goal time” for your race. Be realistic. If your current time is around 27 minutes, aim for a 5k time of about 25 minutes. If your goal time is 25 minutes, then your goal pace per mile is about 8 minutes per mile. if your current time is 24 minutes, you may have a goal of 22 minutes. That would make your pace about 7 minutes per mile. Remember these times (calculate by: goal time divided by 3.1)

The Long Run: As mentioned above, increase your current long run distance by one half mile on one day of the week.

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The Interval Workout: Preferably, you will do this run on a track, so head on down to your local high school. Warm up for four laps. Run one lap at your goal 5k pace (divide your per mile pace by four). This should feel hard. Or even very hard. Walk or jog for 200 meters (half lap). Repeat three or four more times. Finish with a half mile cool down and stretching.

The Lactate Threshold Run: Back on the road for this one, warm up for a mile. Run the next half mile at a pace about 20 seconds slower that your goal 5k pace. Recover for about a quarter mile. Run another half mile at the faster pace. Finish with about a half mile of cool down and stretching.

In addition to these three workouts, you can run another two to three days during the week, basically an easy to moderate paced run. Try not to run two hard workouts in a row. A sample workout week could be something like this (adapt for your own schedule):

Sunday: Long Run
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Lactate Threshold Run
Wednesday: Easy Run
Thursday: Interval Run
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Moderate Run

Okay, now you have it. Get out there and get going. Next week’s workouts will increase your running time and distance (for beginners) and add a couple interesting speed workouts for current runners. Stay tuned!

This post is revised and updated from a beginner 5k program I created several years ago.

5 Tips for Running Faster at Any Race Distance

Whether you’re training for a 5k, running a half marathon, trying to qualify for Boston, or just aiming to improve your running, if you are like many runners you’d like to be able to run faster.

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There are some hard and fast truths about running. Certain things that, no matter what distance you are training for, will help you run faster. While I highly recommend following a training plan, especially for longer distances such as the marathon or half marathon, there are workouts that you can do that will improve your V02 Max, increase your lactate threshold, and help your leg turnover, all of which will help you run faster.

5 Tips for Running Faster at Any Race Distance

Intervals: Interval training is a high intensity workout that can be done on a track or on a stretch of road that is flat and safe. Always warm up for at least 10 minutes before your workout. Each interval should be run at about a 90-100% effort. The longer the interval, the longer the recovery. For example, do 12 x 400 meter intervals with a 200 meter jog/walk recovery. You can run all your laps at the same distance, like 6 x 800 meters, or  3 x 1600 meters, or spice it up a bit and try a ladder workout, where your intervals vary, gradually getting longer, or a pyramid workout where first you increase your distance, then bring it back down.

(I am really sorry for using the word interval so many times in the previous paragraph, but even after reworking it I still used it way too many times.)

They key is to run your intervals at a very high intensity. Aim for about three or four miles total of interval work.

Here’s a fun off the track interval workout. Want to work out on the track? This post has my favorite track workout.

Tempo Runs: The goal of a tempo run is to improve your lactate threshold (LT), the point at which your muscles start to build up more lactic acid than they can handle, so you have to slow down. While this is still a high intensity workout, it will not be as fast as your interval workout. You want to run as close to your lactate threshold as you can, which equates to about 80%-90% effort. There are several types of tempo workouts. They can also be done in intervals, where after warming up you run at your LT pace for a half mile or a miles, then slow down and recover. Or a steady pace tempo run. After your warm up, run at your LT pace for three to five miles. Follow with a cool down.

Here are three tempo workouts to get you started.

Strides: I’ve heard it said that strides are the “secret sauce” of running. Running 5-8 sets of strides several days a week after your easier runs helps your leg turnover and your running form, improves your finishing kick, and stretches out your legs after your run. They can also be used to “wake up” your legs before a race or speed workout.

Find an area where you can run undisturbed for 60-100 meters. A track works great, or the road in front of your house. They can also be done on the grass, barefoot if you like. You are going to build quickly (about 20-30 meters) to about 85-95% of effort. When you reach that point, sustain it for about 30-40 meters, staying relaxed and focusing on your form, then gradually decelerate for the last 20-30 meters. Take a full recovery between each set, about 1-2 minutes, until your breath and heart rate slow.

Negative Split Runs: This workout is done as part of a moderately long run. Depending on what distance you’re training for, it can be from six to 16 miles. The general idea is to run faster throughout your run. Your pace will also depend on your goal race distance. Divide the run distance into thirds (save a mile at the end to cool down). For the first third, run about a minute per mile below your race pace. The second third, pick up the pace by about 30 seconds per mile. Finish the last third at your goal race race pace. If you’re training for a marathon or half marathon, the last third can be run about 20-30 seconds faster than your goal race pace. This is a speed workout, so don’t do it for every long run, just mix it in occasionally along with your other speed workouts.

This post includes a negative split workout for marathon or half marathon training.

Hill Workouts: As Frank Shorter once said, “Hills are speedwork in disguise,” and he was right. Running up hills can work all of the same physiological systems as intervals and tempo runs. They also force you to lift your knees higher and help you develop muscle fibers that will increase your power.  There are different types of hill workouts for different goals, but for an all around hill training workout find a hill about 200-300 meters with a moderate grade. Do four to eight intervals, running at an 85-90% effort. Jog back to the start.

Hill Workout 3

Here are three hill workouts to get you stronger and faster.

Pick one or two of these workouts per week, plus a longer run, and one or two easy recovery runs, and you have a general training plan that will make you stronger and faster. Schedule your training so that you have an easier day or a day off in between your harder, high intensity workouts.

Do you have a favorite speed workout? What is your favorite race distance?

Want to Get Faster? My 3 Favorite Speed Workouts

You might not know it now, but I used to be kind of fast. No, not like elite level, blow your mind fast. More like pretty fast for a normal person. A sub-20 5k. A 42 minute 10k. Times good enough to get me a few age awards, and an occasional overall win (in a small town). A 1:33 half marathon and a 3:16 marathon. I once got 5th in my age group in the Honolulu Marathon (30,000 runners!). Ah, memories.

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On my way to 3:16:38. I was 41.

Well, that was then. I was in my early 40s, by the way, having started running at 37. Now, as you know, my goal is to break 2:00 in the Costume Party Run in July. A knee injury and a few years have happened, and goals change.

The Process is the Same

The thing is, now matter what your fitness level, your age, your abilities, the process is the same. If you want to get faster you have to, well, run faster. Science may come up with new ways to track your training, coaches may design new killer workouts, you can add strength training, plyometrics, stretching, foam rolling, whatever. The truth is the same.

You must run faster.

My 3 Favorite Speed Workouts

Favorite is a funny word. Running faster is hard. When I do these workouts, I hate them. They make me push to my limits. But, when I’m done, I feel amazing. And when they work (and they do!), I love them.

1. My Favorite Interval (VO2 Max) Workout: These type of workouts are generally short to moderate distance (think 400-1600 meters), frequently run on a track, designed to improve how your body uses oxygen.

My favorite workout of this type is the Ladder Workout. After warming up for a mile, do these intervals in order, at about 95-100% of your effort level (this can be measured by heart rate or perceived exertion): 200m, 400m, 800m, 1000m, 1600m, 1000m, 800m, 400m, 200m. Take a 30-45 second break between each interval.

Why I love it: First of all, I like that each interval is different. While I appreciate knocking out 16 400m repeats (and they do have great value), I like the variety of the Ladder Workout. Plus, on the way back down, there is something wonderful about knowing that your next interval is going to be shorter. Any light toward the end of the tunnel.

2. My Favorite Tempo (Lactate Threshold) Workout: Your lactate threshold is the point at which your body cannot keep up with processing the lactic acid it produces during hard exercise and responds by needing to slow down. This type of workout usually involves slightly longer intervals that the VO2 Max workouts, run at a slightly slower pace, your lactate threshold pace. This is a little slower than your 10k pace, or about 85-90% of your effort level. You’ll find a more detailed description in this post.

My favorite workout of this type is a Steady Pace Tempo run. After warming up by running moderately for about a mile, pick it up to your Lactate Threshold pace. Sustain it for two-six miles. Finish with a moderate to slow mile.

Why I love it: I sounds kind of boring, doesn’t it? No fancy pick ups, run this at one pace that at another. Which is exactly why this is my favorite tempo run. To me in simulates race conditions. You don’t stop (hopefully) in a race, you try to keep a fairly steady pace throughout the distance of the run.

3. My Favorite Long Run Workout: You can get a lot of opinions about at which pace to run your long run. Some will say it should be done slowly, or it takes too much of a toll on your body. Others will say that if you run too slow, your body gets used to running slow. The most frequent recommendation is to run about a minute slower that your goal pace. But every now and then, it is fun to shake things up.

My favorite workout of this type is what I call a Negative Split run. I usually doing it during a cut back week, so that if you are training for a half, a good distance would be about nine miles. For a marathon, up to about 16 miles works well. Basically I cut the run into thirds, the first third run about 30 seconds slower that your goal race pace, the second third at pace, and the final third 30 seconds faster than race pace.

Why I love it: This workout is great for teaching you to run fast when you’re tired. Making yourself “up the ante” and run faster challenges your body, sure, but it also teaches your mind that you can push through.

I promise, if you incorporate one or two of these workouts once or twice a week, you will get faster.

These are my favorite workouts, but I still mix in a variety of workouts of each type during training. It keeps training interesting and challenging. I am sure that you have some favorite workouts and I hope that you will share in the comments.

Disclaimer: Although I am a certified Coach and Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Coach or Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.