How to Speed Up My Running - Improving My 5k Time

by Paul
(Derby, UK)

My average 5k speed is about 5.05 minutes, my 10k speed is about 5.40 minutes. I have tried all kinds of ways to speed my times up such as different eating habits, drinking habits, clothing, time of day running, running a bit quicker for 15 to 20 seconds at the start of every new kilometer, starting off a bit slower trying to gain speed as I run, running more on the flat, etc.

Nothing I seem to do helps my speed. All I end up doing is getting injured, I am now adding distance rather than speed, two days ago I completed 10 miles for the first time in my entire life. How can I improve my running speed and achieve a faster 5k?

Answer by Dom:
Hi there,

Thanks for your question about how to speed up your running and getting to a faster 5k time.

So, 5k at 5:05 minutes / km = 25:25. When I plug that in to my race conversion calculator and estimate an expected 10k time I get a time of 52:59. Your 10k time (at 5:40 minutes/km) is 56:40 minutes.

Now, what does this little bit of information tell us? 5k and 10k efforts are predominantly aerobic performances. They rely on having a strong base. The stronger your base, the stronger your heart is. The stronger your heart, the more blood it pumps to your muscles with every heartbeat. Base building needs to be the foundation of your running, especially when you are starting out.

Now, it sounds like you already have made a really good start with your running. You might even have been doing it for a while now. You are able to run 5k and 10k distances. And two days ago, you completed 10 miles for the first time in your life. That's really good! Not many people are able to cover that distance in a run. So, well done, that's fantastic.

And well done on making all the other changes in your life, such as changing eating and drinking habits. That's important for longevity and health and over time it will also help your running.

However, with regards to running specific advice, what I would recommend you to do is to continue building that base, through mostly easy running. Your long run of 10 miles is a great distance as a basis for a faster 5k when you are starting out. You could build it up a bit more, if you wanted to, but it's a solid distance.

As a next step I'd recommend some tempo running. Once a week. Assuming you are running three or four times a week, make one run your long run, one run your tempo workout and keep the others easy. When you have had a solid period of tempo running and easy running, then layer in some speed through fartleks or intervals. Again, only once a week. Intervals and fartleks are intenser workouts and they increase the risk of injury. So, be mindful of that.

I am convinced that if you give it some time, your performance in both the 5k and the 10k will improve!

Best of luck,

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