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Realistic runing time improvement

I am currently running 3 miles a few times per week however at a terrible pace. I want to see a weekly improvement in my times however I am not sure what is realistic. Is it realistic of me to look to improve my times by 1 minute per week or should I expect to take seconds off my time.


  • diddsdidds Posts: 655
    seconds - a month.

    If by "terrible" you meant for example 30 minutes, if your expectation was to improve by a minute a week you're saying that in two months you will have reduced your time by over 25%... its not a realistic goal.

    5Ks are all about flat out running - but what is your endurance base like? I'm not a tri/running coach (yet...) but I might imagine that some time building a good endurance base would be well spent, up to maybe 10K distance. This would provide your muscles with endurance which sort of means strength, and wopuld improve your body's ability to use oxygen. Then later you can add intervals and tempo runs to push your lactate threshold higher - the ability to go faster with less "pain" in effect.

    someone will be along that knows what they are on about soon!

  • I'm realtively new to running, and after a couple of Tri's early in the year I quickly realised that the run was my weakest link, so I started to work on it in earnest. I'm out with the running club two nights a weak, averaging between 8 and 10 kms, on varying terrain, doing intervals, hills etc. I also try to do one long run on weekends, up to 25kms, with a few intervals just to pock up speed.

    To test myself, and see if I've made any imrpovements I also do the ParkRun 5 km times runs on a Saturday morning, and my results so far are:
    16/05 25:00
    23/05 24:34
    06/06 24:41
    13/06 23:56
    04/07 23:42
    12/09 23:00
    26/09 23:10

    So, worst time was 25:00 in mid May, and best time (so far ) is 23:00, thats a 2:00, or 120 second, or 8% improvement in 4 months. The runs haven't got any easier, and my average heart rate is still pretty much the same, but the times have come down. During the next couple of months I'm going to make a concerted effort to get below 22:00 before the New Year.

    I'm not saying my times are typical, but four months of hard traininbg, and I've reduced my times by 8%, not a massive amount, but a move in the right direction.
  • hi there

    thanks very much that is very helpfull and is very well illustrated, thanks I will keep you posted of my progress
  • hi Didds

    thanks very much for your response that is really helpfull, I will adjust my expectations accordingly.
  • diddsdidds Posts: 655
    you're welcome Greg - hope my response didn;t come across as too negative. i think its important to be realistic, so as not to feel despair too early... though of course there is nothing wrong with a goal that challenges you

    FTR, I managed my first sub 30 minute 5K in May 2008, and it took over a year to improve on that, although I was mainly training for longer distances (10K - Half marathon - 10 miler and only later in this summer some speed).

  • I'm with Didds on this 25% in two months is probably not realistic. However what is realistic is difficult to define as it depends on so many different things - What your current times are? How often you run at the moment? How often you will run in the future? What other training you do and numerous other factors.

    Also improvements tend not to be linear. Whilst you are unlikely to achieve 1 minute per week you may find that at times you appear to be making little progress and at other times you will make big gains. For this reason it might be better not to the same route all the time. Having a couple of test routes that you do every six or eight weeks will mean that even if you are on a bad day you will still be quicker than the previous time.

    Didds is right that you might want to try longer runs but initially the key to them is not to do them hard. If you use a heart rate monitor then <70% max working heart rate would probably be about right. As Didds says this will build an endurance base. The longer you can take these runs out for the better but no more than 10% volume increase per week. Ideally one of these runs will be longer than the others. This will become the long run - a staple part of training for many. This endurance base phase can be as little as six weeks or can go for 12 weeks or longer.

    After that you can look at adding the lactate threshold work and then after that the anaerobic stuff.
  • Hi Ash

    Thanks very much for your comments they are really helpful. I will implement them into my running plan

    Thanks again
  • GGGG Posts: 82

    This is a good post. Comming from a running background (im not a coach either) i would say running 3miles 3 times a week will see improvement especially in the early times. In my first year running I took my 10k time from 60mins to 45 mins on training quite similar to yours.

    However, that being a few years ago I have also had the benefit of some excellent coaching and experience of trying different things.

    Obviously your a triathlete first, always(?) but what is your running goal? If you after a good run in a sprint tri i give you this modest advise.

    As its winter you are in a good position to start your base phase. On three sessions a week i would say try and do a longish run gradually working up to about 90 mins at an easy conversational pace. This will bost your endurance.

    The second session get down to the track and do a quality track session with a club. This will be a ballbuster but speed endurance sessions are important to improvement. The coach will alter the sessions each week ie one week 12 x 200 next week 4 x 1000 with differnet perionds of jog recoveries depending on if it is more a speed or endurance sessionetc.

    last one would be a hill (strength) session. Jog to a hill thats sensibly steep and 600-800m in length. Hard effort up, slow jog back. Do this for say 15 mins to start and gradually ease the time up as you progress through the winter.

    Hope you find something here of use.
  • GGGG Posts: 82
    Sorry me again.

    Just thought I would add that with the quality sessions consistancy is key, you want each rep or repeat to be the same (goal time). There is no point in absolutley blasting the first few reps then having to sack it half way through becuase you have nothing left.

    Also dont fall into the trap if you decide you want to keep to your current schedule of tring to run a "pb" each time you go out.

    Running time will improve by improvement in endurance, strength, speed endurance and once your ready pure speed.
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