5k parkrun improvement: Running Just 3 times a week?

parkrun 12
parkrun 12 (Photo credit: Paul Holloway), not me!

You’ve probably been looking for a 5k training plan. There’s lots out there and a few on this site. You’re not an elite runner by a long chalk but you’d like to improve your 5k times at your local parkrun.

Thing is, all those plans take up so much time and have you running many hours and days a week. They will work but….you have a life.

Towards the end of last year I improved my approx 80% age graded time by 20 seconds in 4 months. Great so what? you might ask. Well I did that doing less than 3 hours of running a week and that includes warming up.

Obviously there is scope for much greater improvement than that by more and more-focussed training. But my point is that even when you think you have plateaud or nearly plateaud there is still actually quite a lot of scope for improvement with the right kind of training.

Now admittedly I was doing other training as well which would have helped me. But at the same time, an 80% age graded time would be classed as very respectable by most people. (Well until a lady I knew did about 90% that was what I thought too). So 20 seconds improvement is good and I reckon if I really tried for that PB there was another 10 seconds to be had on the day.

So what was my plan? Well not much training on form, although I probably need it. No gym training. A bit of plyometrics every now and then.

I followed standard periodicity in my training. IE I have 3 weeks of gradually increasing effort and a 4th week of relatively rested training. I never run on consecutive days (in the period in question at any rate). I do ZERO long slow runs as my base has already been built up in previous periods (and I am slower today as a result). MY Monday session might be broadly the same as next Monday’s but that’s it…after that I would do a different session (ie a different stimulus). And even going form one Monday to the next the second week’s session would have perhaps a shorter rest period or slightly longer interval (but not speed).

Each week I will run at target race pace at some point. As race day approaches there is more speed work but  I am mindful that the most effective period for training is about 2 weeks prior to race day and tht, furthermore, sufficient taper is needed to be fully rested and raring to go on the day.

But I think most importantly much of the work in the first 8 weeks is at or below my comfort line which is roughly my LTHR.

I even think that is the area where I need to make further improvements in my current training.

If you don’t know what LTHR and VO2max are then you need to do a bit of research and get a heart rate monitor!

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9 thoughts on “5k parkrun improvement: Running Just 3 times a week?

  1. What are the age graded times / percentages for 55 year old male for 5km ?

      1. Hi 5k Runner,

        Yes that topic is still quite interesting to me. Thanks.


        Sent from Samsung Mobilethe5krunner wrote:

  2. 80% is amazing! The chap who came first at our local 5k Park Run last week, who completed it in 16 mins, was graded 73% – so you are doing fab! Well done!

    1. 16 minutes is amazing too… depends how you see it. I’ve met some older people who are over 90% age graded but coming in with times at around 19 minutes. (edited, thanks Paul)

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