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Faster Minute Mile for 5K races

by Fernando

I'm 40 years old and I started to run consistently four months ego. My running time went from 9 minutes miles to 7:30 minute miles in a 5k. Is it realistic for me to think that I can achieve 6 minute miles at my age? what training would you recommend to me?
Thank you.

running tips
Answer by Dominique:
Hi there,
Thanks for your question about improving your 5k running time.

There are plenty of 40+ years old runners who can do 6 minute miles and faster.

So, yes it is possible.

You haven't provided a lot of background on your current running training, so I can't comment on how to alter your training.

Generally speaking, I would advise you to make sure you have got a good base first and foremost. You have only been running for four months and have already gotten a lot faster. Building a base takes years.

That's not meant to discourage you. If anything, it is a positive. It means that you can look forward to quite some improvement over the next few years if you play your cards right.

Building your base is generally done by covering miles without doing speedwork. Even 5k races are mostly aerobic, so you'd benefit a lot from improving your aerobic system (which is done via base running drills).

See, if you can build up your long run to 6-10 miles or so. When you can cover 10 miles comfortably, covering 5k at a fast pace is suddenly a lot easier!

After building up your base, add in some speedwork. You can do this via fartlek sessions or interval running.

It may take some time, in fact, take your time to get there. Keep up running consistently for four more months, eight more months, a year, etc and you'll hopefully find that you'll make improvements as you go along.

Enjoy the journey!

Kind regards,
P.S. As a last article to review: check out the increasing mileage safely page.

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Nov 27, 2011
by: Anonymous

My high school cross country coach is 39 and she still runs with us at practice! And it's not the leisurely runs either! You can do it she says you just have to eat right and work out consistently! She runs 5:40 miles! Keep it up! (:

Jan 13, 2012
The base
by: Fernando Daguerre

Thank you very much for your advice and comments. I started to research about a base training after your training suggestion and I found an article from Mark Allen the triathlon legend on heart rate training. I was fascinated by his approach to base training with a heart rate monitor and I'm doing it. Any comments on that? When is the right time for me to switch to fast training? I would like to be ready for a 5K on April 16.
This web page is fantastic as it is your advice thank you.
Fernando D.

Jan 16, 2012
Re your Mark Allen question....
by: Dominique (webmaster)

Mark Allen follows the Maffetone method. Many people confuse Maffetone training with slow training only, but when you read a few of his books you find out a lot more.

Basically, Maffetone prescribes base training at/below a heart rate of 180 - age. He says to do a test every four to six weeks or so (do a search for "MAF test").

In his books he says a few times that the time to do fast training is basically when you don't improve anymore in the MAF test.

In reality, with races scheduled, it is best (I think) that you start adding in some speed training about two months out from your race day. You will want to have done some speed training before you get to your races, but base running should remain the most important element of your training.

Hope this helps.

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