Want to Improve My 5k Race Speed

by Paul
(Jackson, TN)

want to improve my 5k race speed
Hello, I am 16 years old and I run cross-country and track for my high school.

My PRs are:

400 = 58.5

800 = 2:12

1600 = 5:05

5k = 18:24

I've been working hard all summer working on my goal of 17:15 for a 5k.

I'm trying to run 5:40-45 mile splits in a 5k.

I'm having trouble running that time and end up running an average of 6:10-15 or so per mile.

Could you give me some workouts to do so that I can get my splits down to 5:40-45?

Thanks, Paul

Answer by Dominique:
Hi Paul,
Fantastic to hear from you. And great to hear you are ambitious and looking to improve your time on the tracks.
Based on the information you've provided, it seems like you're definitely giving it your all. Let's see how we can tackle this improvement together, shall we?

1. The Race Conversion Calculator - Some analysis
2. The big irony of running - the easy run
3. Some other tips to get faster

The Race Conversion Calculator - Some Analysis

want to improve my 5k race speed
Firstly, I put your Personal Records (PRs) into my Race Conversion Calculator to analyze how your shorter races compare to your 5k goal.

Here's a quick summary of the calculator's results:

1. Your 800m time of 2:12 minutes translates to an expected 1,600m time of about 4:35 minutes (your time is 5:05).

2. That same 800m time also predicts a 5k (5000m) time of roughly 15:20 minutes (your time is 18:24).

3. Finally, the calculator estimated your 5k time to be around 17:00 minutes based on your 1,600m time of 5:05 minutes (your time is 18:24).

What does this tell you?

Put simply, if you had stamina to add to your speed, you'd really be on fire! You're able to run fast. And that's a great starting point. But now, you need to work on maintaining that speed over longer distances. That's where we'll need to focus your training.

The Big Irony of Running - The Easy Run

want to improve my 5k race speed
You might think that the answer to improving your 5k times is simply to run 5k's faster until you reach your target. But, based on the analysis, here's the twist: you actually need to be running slower and longer. Yes, it does sound counter-intuitive, but the big irony of running is that you need to go slow to go fast!

You haven't told me your current mileage levels. But the basics are: you need to build your easy runs and build up your long run.

If your current long run is 5 miles, just imagine if over time you make it 10 miles. Or even 13-15 miles. Your endurance will be so much higher. When you look at the training of elite 5k runners, you'll see two things:

1. They cover a massive amount of mileage
2. Most of their running is done at a fairly slow pace

Also check out the base building page for more information.

Other Tips to Get Faster

want to improve my 5k race speed
Now, the 5k is a fast distance. So, not all your training needs to be slow. But the overwhelming amount of it should be.

In addition to the slower running, I'd also recommend considering:

Strength Training
Adding strength training, whether it's body weight exercises, or weight lifting, can help improve your running economy and stave off fatigue. It also makes you more injury reslient.

Check out Strength Training for Runners for more information.

Speed Workouts
Fast, intense workouts improve your top speed and running economy. Once you've built up a solid aerobic base, you can start sprinkling these into your routine.

Also see the Running Workouts page that provides a summary of all types of running workouts to try.

Rest is just as important as running. It's during recovery periods that your body rebuilds and gets stronger. Allow adequate time between intense workouts for recovery.

Remember, this base running might make you feel slow at first, especially when you return to more intense workouts. But don't worry – that's just your body re-adjusting. After a little while, you'll find you're not only able to run faster but also maintain that faster pace for longer.

Ultimately, the goal is to balance your raw speed with increased stamina. It might seem like an uphill battle when you start off, but with commitment, patience, and these strategies, you'll find yourself getting to your goals.

Keep in mind: your speed on the shorter distances indicates you are able to do this. It may be hard work, but you can get there. No doubts.

Keep at it, Paul! It's a journey, and every step takes you closer to your goal.

Kind regards,

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. Heart Rate Monitor Training - The Zoladz Method

    Every running pace has its own heart rate zone. The heart rate monitor training zones according to Zoladz are explained in this section.

    Read more

  2. Yasso 800 :: The Marathon Pace Workout with a Twist

    The Yasso 800 is supposed to be a predictor of marathon performance. It is a marathon pace workout with a twist. Learn more about the Yasso 800 on this page.

    Read more

  3. Running for Weight Loss - Injured...

    I started a run-walk program 3 weeks ago to help me lose 80 lbs. I was up to running 3 min / walk 3 min 3 days a week on my treadmill. Last week after

    Read more

  4. What Can I Do To Improve My Half Marathon Time?

    I am a 53 yo male 5'11, 165lbs. I have been running for about 8 years. I have run 7 marathons and have never broken the 4hr mark even though all my

    Read more

  5. Daniels Running Formula Book Review - The Running Training Book You Have Got to Have

    If I had to recommend you to get one running book only, then it would have to be Daniels Running Formula by running coach Jack Daniels.

    Read more