Running: Month 4 of the 5k Training Plan

The final month of your training is all about fine-tuning. You’ve got a good base of running under your belt – probably 200+ miles, dozens of quality sessions, and a good sense of race pacing. That’s a decent list of accomplishments so far, and a good reminder that good training is about accumulation. One workout will never decide the fate of a season. But a season’s worth of workouts certainly will.

1) Intervals. Week 1: 3 x 1600m(1 mile) at goal 5k race pace with 3:00 rest. Week 2. 3 x 1600m at goal pace with 2:30 rest. Week 3: 3 x 1600m at goal pace with 2:00 rest. Why the decrease in rest? Couple of reasons. One is to evaluate your ability to maintain that pace as rest decreases. It’s a technique Roger Bannister used to break 4:00 for the mile, and certainly good enough for us. Another reason is that it will help attenuate you to race-day demands, at the pace you intend to run. Not to say it’s going to suck, but it certainly might. And you never want to save the suffering for race day. Week 4: Race week. Take it easy. 6 x 400m at goal pace with plenty of rest, no less than three days out.

2) Long Runs + Tempo Work. This month we combine the two, in a little Matt Fitzgerald technique for late-season adaptation.  I won’t get into the science because a) I don’t fully grasp it as a Humanities major and b) it’s probably more than you care to know. Weeks 1 and 2: 80-90 minutes, with the last three miles at tempo pace. Week 3: 80-90 minutes

3) Race Week: Ensure you do the intervals prescribed above. There’s this dumb idea engrained in our heads that week of a race, you should rest completely. As in no running. Call it “peaking,” “tapering,” whatever. It’s bollocks. For 5k, there’s really no such thing as a true taper like there is in a marathon. In fact, taking complete rest is counterproductive because after a few days, your body will begin to discard the gains you’ve made over the past four months. If you’ve ever taken a week easy before a race, then shown up to the line with flat legs, it’s likely because you haven’t stimulated your system enough the week of the race. Enough said on that. Day before the race, do a short run and finish with a couple of easy wind sprints.

Show up  to your goal race, and kick some ass. Race with confidence in your training, and leave nothing on the course.

Running: Month 3 of the 5k Training Plan for Time Scrooges

Scrooge says his 5k PR is faster than Jean-Luc's.

Scrooge says his 5k PR is faster than Jean-Luc’s.

Halfway through the program is a great point to take stick and make sure things are going well. Do you have any little injuries that refuse to go away? If so, how are you managing them? Do you feel weak in a particular phase of racing, maybe in the hills or the last mile? Don’t get me wrong – you can take stock on a daily basis, it’s just that after two months you actually have some data to work from: two races, 16 total quality sessions, and eight long runs. Not bad.

This month, we’re going to extend the intervals to 1200s (3/4 of  mile), while tempo runs will stay pretty constant and long runs will lengthen slightly. Some might wonder why I’ve structured the program in such a rote fashion, and the answer is brilliance in the basics. The workouts are repetitive so you can 1) build a sense of pacing and 2) easily track your progress and 3) remember your workout even if you only have 40 minutes on a lunch break to sneak it in. This program isn’t quite the lipstick and eyeshadow of Jogger’s World (“train for your marathon on ten minutes a week!”) but it also isn’t Jack Daniels (some of his marathon workouts have left me in an existential crisis).

1) 1200m Intervals. The pacing is going to be weird the first time, but you’ll get used to it. Once again the track is preferable but a verified distance of flat ground also works. Week 1: 3-4 x 1200m at 5k pace with 2:00 rest. Add one more repeat each week until you have a max total of 4 miles in total interval distance.

2) Tempo Runs. Continue with a weekly 20-30 minute tempo with the pace changes as noted last month.

3) Long Runs. Week 1: 65 minutes. Week 2: 80 minutes. Week 3: 85 minutes. Week 4: 85 minutes.

4) Racing. If you haven’t raced yet for whatever reason, now would be a really good time to log a 5k race and see where your fitness resides.

Running: Second Month of the 5k Training Plan for Time Misers

Not an approved 5k training workout.

Not an approved 5k training workout.

In the second month, we’re going to build on what you got done the first month. To recap: at this point, you should have one race under your belt to indicate your current fitness levels, your long run should be around 60 min, and you should have developed some sense of pacing through your 400m repeats. This month is all about building around the capacity you’ve built so far, and the next four weeks will look this:

1) 800m (that’s a half mile for you imperial types) repeats. Just like the 400s, the track is the best place to develop pacing, but you can simply find a flat stretch of ground somewhere as well. Week 1: 4-6 x 800 w/1:30 rest at current 5k pace. Shoot for six, but if your pace falls off significantly after four, then cut it off there. Week 2: 6 x 800 w/ 1:30 rest at current 5k pace. Week 3: 6-8 x 800m w/ 1:30 rest at current 5k pace. Week 4: same as Week 3.

2) Tempo runs. Just like last week, add 15-20s to your 5k mile pace. Week 1: 25:00 tempo. Week 2: 30:00 tempo, but slow it down by about five seconds per mile. Week 3: Same as Week 2. Week 4: 35:00 tempo, pace slowed by 5-7s per mile.

3) Long runs. Week 1: Take ten minutes off your Month 1, Week 4 long run. Week 2: 65 minutes. Week 3: 70 minutes. Week 4: 75 minutes.

4) Try to find a race somewhere around the second week of the month – that will have given you six weeks of training to absorb and adapt to training. If you run faster than your last race, that’s your new 5k training pace. If you run slower, go with the faster time as your 5k benchmark — you probably had a rough day, or conditions were less than ideal.

5) RACE WEEK CAVEAT: Take it easy. If it’s a weekend race, just do one speed session, preferably 8 x 400m at goal 5k pace with equal rest. If you can, tack a few miles on after the 5k and count the total distance as your long run for the week.