Best Way to Improve My 3km Time!

by Einars
(Latvia, Baltezers)

Hello, I need to improve my time on 3 kms in 6 weeks.

At the moment I run 3 km in about 10:30, but what I need is 09:50 I have never trained in running, I just run! :)

I want to know if there are any special workouts, how many times in week, how fast and what distances should I run to get 09:50.

And what further training should I do to get an even better result!


Answer by Dominique:
Hi there,
Thanks for your running training question about improving your 3k time.

Considering you have never really trained in running, you do a really good 3k! In addition to that, you have got a reasonable chance of some improvement over te next six weeks.

It's not a lot of time, more is always better, but without a background in running, you can hope to improve a bit over the next six weeks. Let's hope that it gets you the 40 seconds you need.

It is very hard to give you more than general advice as I don't know how much you would have been running so far.

I.e., if you currently do about 20 miles per week, then suggesting 25 miles per week for the next six weeks would be quite okay. However, if you do not really run consistently then telling you to run 25 miles per week could force you to do too much and lead you on a path to likely injuries.

So, general advice it is.

I'll break it up in a few parts:

1. How often to run per week
2. What the cornerstone of your running should be.
3. What "special workouts" you need to do for a good 3k time.

How often to run per week

In order to get improvements, I would suggest running a minimum of three times per week, four times would be better. Generally, if you are reasonably untrained, then running three times per week will give you a good base to improve your fitness.

However, suppose you are already very used to running three or four times per week? Then, you could add in a fifth and/or sixth session into your routine.

With your description of "I just run" I would be very careful with doing too much running immediately.

I would not go from "I just run" to running five times per week. You would risk getting running injuries that way. With that in mind, I would like you to read my increasing mileage safely-article.

At your level, more work is likely better done through cross-training instead. Gym class, weights, swimming, bike riding, rowing, whatever you like or is convenient to you.

What the Cornerstone of Your Running Should be

You would want the bulk of your running to be easy runs and long runs that help you build your stamina.

The 3k might be short for many long distance runners. It's over and done with in less than 15 minutes. But, make no mistake about it. Your endurance, your cardiovascular system is the most important thing in achieving a fast 3k time.

You have speed, your current 3k time is testament to that, but I doubt you'd be comfortable running way further than 3k.

Imagine if you could do 10k, 15k at the drop of a hat (at an easy pace). How much easier would it be to race your 3k then? So, focus on easy running before anything else.

What "Special Workouts" You Need to Do to Improve Your 3k Time

In addition to the easy runs and long runs, there should be some faster running you do as well to get ready for the speed required in a 3k.

Key types of workouts are:

Strides and leg speed workouts that help improve your running economy. You can tag these on to your easy runs.

Interval runs would help in this regard as well and would help improve your VO2max.

I would suggest doing different intervals in different workouts, i.e., one session do something like 8 x 400m intervals, then another session do 4 x 800m or 2-3 x 1 mile etc.

Other good running workouts you can do are tempo runs, or fartleks or goal pace workouts.

If you were to allow yourself more time, you can mash all of this together in a really good running program to achieve your best.

In the short time available, I still think some consistent training can help you improve. 40 seconds is a lot on a short distance, but you have the benefit of not having done serious running training, so you might well get there.

I hope this helps.
Best of luck and kind regards,

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