Improving Running Speed for a 5k Which is One Month Away

by Brandi

Hello, I am 43 years old and have been running for about 5 years. 3-4 miles about 3 times a week. During the last 2 months, I have begun making longer runs one time a week, usually on the weekend.

They range from 5 to 7 miles. During the longer runs, I take them slow and easy, and average around 11:20 a mile.

My shorter runs average around 10:45 a mile. 5 years ago, I was running a 10 minute mile, but have slowed over the years, because I enjoy running at a slower pace.

I've picked up some running partners now, none of which run that slow. I ran a 5k 3 weeks ago, and with one of them pushing me, I did it in 32 minutes.

But I hated every minute of it - felt like I was dying! Haha.

I am running another 5k with this same woman (who ran one by herself last week with a 28 minute time!!) and I want to aim for a 28 or better time too!

I have exactly one month.

Can you please give me the best advice of how to accomplish this?

I'm very motivated and will follow a program strictly...just need to know how to go about it!?
Thanks for your help!!!

running tips
Answer by Anissa:

Thanks for your question about wanting to improve your speed for an upcoming 5K.

I admire your motivation to improve on your 5K time.

You’ve got a good mileage base going for you so your body is ready for the distance but you will need to focus on your speed work right now.

Combine two faster workouts as described below with one to three easier runs per week (depending on how much you run normally).

While running at a pace that is out of your comfort level is certainly uncomfortable, improving your speed is going to require that you push yourself.

You are going to feel out of breath and you will feel your leg muscles burning, it’s to be expected.

Interval workouts are a great way to improve your speed. Begin with an easy 5-10 minute warm-up.

Run 400m (one lap around a track) hard, then run one slow, easy recovery lap. Start with two or three 400m repeats, with a recovery lap in between each. Work your way up to five or six repeats. If you’re running outside, you can use signs, trees, etc. to mark your intervals. Run 2 trees; recover for 2 trees and so on.

Tempo runs help develop your anaerobic threshold which is critical for running faster. A tempo run is basically an easy beginning, a build up to near 10K pace and then a cool down to finish. Begin with 5 to 10 minutes of easy running, then continue on for 15-20 minutes of running near a 10K pace then finish with 5 to 10 minutes of cooling down.

If you are unsure of what your 10K pace is, run at a pace that feels comfortably hard. A pace you are able to keep up for the duration of the workout.

Tempo runs are designed to be run at a constant speed, so it is best to avoid hills.

Rest is critical to recovery and injury prevention so be sure you’re taking 1-2 days off per week to let your muscles build and repair themselves.

Running hard everyday will not only put you at risk for injury, you won’t see any improvement in your speed.

Good luck on your 5K,

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