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Interval training for your 5k running is an integral component of running your 5Ks faster. It is absolutely essential for you to understand interval training at least superficially and to accept that it works and understand that is used by athletes at all levels including elite athletes.
If you are training to improve your 5k times then you should **NOT** be running 5ks very often at all in your training. If at all. This is absolutely true, if perhaps counter intuitive.
So. Basic interval training involves you running fast for a bit then much much slower and then faster again and then much much slower and then repeating these ‘intervals of effort’ lots of times.
The interval can be an interval of distance or an interval of time. You can measure the effort by pace/speed or by heart rate. That’s basically it – not so complicated.
From my own personal experience, however, you can get very complicated training plans on the internet and from personal trainers. I’m sure they are fine but they are often daunting for the newer 5k runners. Here’s my suggestion:
1. Run 1 minute at a speed “a bit” faster than your TARGET 5k speed. Rest for a minute and repeat at least 10 times and up to a maximum 20 times. If you do 20 you should be bordering on exhaustion, if not then you were going too slow. When you are not so tired either increase the speed or the number of intervals or the length of effort or reduce the rest period.
Combine this over your training with
2. Running an hour at 80% of your 5k speed
and do not forget
3. Have a rest-from-running-day between exercise and leave 1-3 days before a race to fully recover.
If you are a very fit athlete reading this, I do appreciate the nuances of tapers and training twice a day but you already are well versed training regimes and not my target reader!
My beginner’s-to-improver’s plan – above WILL DEFINATELY get a male to a 20 minute 5k and a female to 21.5 minutes.
Why complicate things…well you might get a bit bored just doing what I say for several months…but nevertheless I guarantee it will work for 99% of the reader of this blog.