Improving 5k Running Time

by Ramesh

I run on the track about 3 times a week. I do distances of 2k (timing 10m25s), 4k (timing 23min)and 5k (timing 29min) on these three days. Besides this I do heavy weight training twice a week. I am a heavy set man (178cm - 92kg). Can you suggest some methods to cut down my 5k timing.

Answer by Dom:

Hi there,
Thanks for your question about improving your 5k running time. And thanks for sharing those running times.

OK, let's walk through this in the following order:

1. Analysis of your current performances
2. Build Your Base - Slow Down to Speed Up
3. Layer in Speed
4. Weight Loss and Improving Your Running Times

Analysis of your current performances

Now, the first thing I did was to plug in your times in my race conversion calculator (link at bottom of this answer).

When I plug in your 2k time of 10 min 25 seconds, your predicted 5k time is: 27:30.

When I plug in your 4k time of 23 minutes, your predicted 5k time is 29:08.

So, what does this tell me?

Well, a few things:

a. It is well within your ability to improve your 5k running time....
b. But, you are running out of steam when it comes to longer distances...

So, let's fix that problem by building your base.

Build Your Base - Slow Down to Speed Up

improving your 5k running time
It sounds like you are pushing yourself pretty hard on those three runs. What I would like to ask you to do is to run slower, but run for longer.

I am convinced, that when you slow down your running to an easy, conversational pace, but run longer distances, that you will start seeing improvement in your 5k times.

You can already run 29 minutes with really pushing yourself. Let's slow down a bit and run for 30-45 minutes, three times per week.

You can build up further to running 45-60 minutes per run. Just build it up slowly, add 3-5 minutes of running to a couple of your runs every week.

Why do this?
Well, you want to build your base. You want to strengthen that cardiovascular system in your body, such that with every heart beat you pump more oxygen to your muscles.

Even without the consideration of what is going on inside your body... Imagine you are able to run 7k, 8k, 10k even in your training... How much easier will it be to maintain your speed you are currently running in a 2k time trial when you have got that solid foundation? You might be able to hold it for the full 5k, improving your 5k running time from 29 to ~26 minutes! That would be a more than 10% improvement already!

Layer in Speed

Now after that base of yours is better developed through all that easy running, then it is time to add in some speedier running. I have got plenty of pages on this site devoted to that, so I will just give you a few links to find out a bit more:

Fartlek Workouts - Speedplay Explained

Tempo Running

Interval Running

Whenever you start adding in speedwork, be careful as the injury risk goes up. The good thing is that you are lifting heavy which is a good help in staying strong and a great running injury prevention technique, but still, just listen to your body and if you are hurting yourself, back off from the speedwork.

Weight Loss and Improving Your Running Times

As you said yourself, you are on the heavier side. I think you'll find that running more and longer distances will see you lose some weight, that's generally what happens, even if you are not focused on weight loss.

The reason I am bringing it into the mix is that generally you can expect to get about 1-2 seconds per mile faster per US pound. So, if you were to drop 5kg, that's about 11 US pounds, you could expect to be 10 to 20 seconds faster per mile.

A 5k race is 3.1 miles, so that would improve your 5k running time by 30 to 60 seconds right there!

Now clearly I don't know your circumstances and whether that is a possibility or not. Even without the weight loss, you have excellent, excellent prospects to be running a faster 5k, but if you were able to drop a bit of weight, you would see that improvement in your running accelerate!

So, hope that helps: run slower and longer and then add a bit of speed work as the cherry on top and good things will happen!

Kind regards,

Related Pages:

Race Conversion Calculator

Base Building Page

Tempo Running

5k running tips

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to 5k Running Questions.

Like this page:

Share this page:

Like this site:

[?] Subscribe To This Site

follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!


  • Beginner Running Tips

    Are you a beginning runner? Then this is your best starting point. Many tips and running programs on offer, dedicated to you.

  • Running for Weight Loss

    Aiming to lose a few pounds? Get into the Running for Weight Loss section for tips and advice.

  • Running Training

    The Running Training section of the site has got the most articles. It is constantly getting updated with new tips and information. A must-visit if you are serious about improving your running performance.

  • 5k Running Tips

    The 5k is a great distance to run and train for. The great thing is that you can do it quite often and see big improvements.

  • 10k Running Tips

    The 10k is a real challenge. You need to run fast for an uncomfortably long time! Check out this section if you are strong of mind and legs!

  • Marathon Running Tips

    The marathon is a massive challenge. Proper training is so important! Make sure to check out this section if you have got your mind set on the marathon!

What's New?

  1. Running Pace Calculator - Work Out Which Running Training Pace is Right for You

    The running training pace calculator provides you with the right running training paces for you, based on recent race results.

    Read more

  2. Unleash Your Running Potential with Personalized Coaching

    Get some running coaching. Achieve your personal best with a laser targeted running program from Best Running Tips.

    Read more

  3. 18 Months To A Marathon Doable?

    Is it feasible - through hard work and determination of course - for a beginner to be ready for a marathon within 18 months? At this point I'll be

    Read more

  4. How Do I Prepare for My First 5k?

    Hello, I'm a 21 female who is about 30 lbs overweight. I used to do sports in high school but haven't really run in a long time. I want to do a 5k

    Read more

  5. 66yr Old Wants to Repeat Similar Age Related Time for Marathon

    Hello, I am a 66 yr old man/boy wishing to repeat a marathon in time related comparison to my 2h 59m 15s which I did when I was 50. In the interim

    Read more