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Improving 5km time in one week

Hi I am looking for some advice with my running I currently have a 5km PB of 21.01 and im looking to go sub 20min but have no idea what sort of training is going to get me there. A normal week for me would consist of about 40miles of running but my training is so misguided Im not really sure what is getting results and what is just junk miles.

any help would be great

Cheers Adam


  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425
    Get in touch with a coach!

    It takes a good book to describe fully how to do it. A coach can distil all thatr info & focus it on you. 5% inprovement can be hard & there are no short cuts.

  • Thanks for the reply but Im a bit new to this do you know where the best place to start looking for a coach would be?
  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425
    Can either go to the BTF website and look on 'Coaching' then 'Find a Coach' or could join either your local Tri or running club but check out what coaching they do (and their qualifications) before hand.

    Look for at least BTF/ UKA Level 2 for group coaching or BTF/UKA Level 3 for 1:2:1

    Hope this helps

  • Harry you are looking at a 5% improvement here, and you need to be realistic.

    Your current time is I suspect not bad, it is faster than me, but you do not give your age or experience. Whilst 40 miles a week is reasonable for a triathlete at what pace/intensity are you doing your current training?

    I have come back to training for triathlon after a long break and I understand that I need to firstly create a very solid foundation based on a lot of easy paced miles before I put more focus on speed if I am to be a competitive runner in my age group. As such I am intending to do very little tempo or quicker based running before the end of February, rather I want to build up my volume to something around 55 to 60 miles per week as my foundation. In the long term I would look to increase this further in subsequent years as I gain more endurance and strength, however I do have time on my hands. I know off this base I should have the strength and resiliance to be able to handle a volume of tempo work, intervals and speed drills etc... leading up to my race season.

    You may have had a number of years running at this volume and as such incorporating faster paced work may be possible, but you are only looking at allocating perhaps a third of this volume to such work, the rest should be easy paced.

    I can understand if you are really time poor and can only run for a couple of hours a week then getting most out of these sessions by going pretty hard might be the way forwards. If on the other hand you have more time than this you need to make your easy runs really easy and your hard runs sharp and sweet. The mistake is doing too much work in the middle as this simply leads to a plataued pace which might be where you are at.

    I have found excellent advice on the 'slowtwitch' forum posted by BarryP on his training plan there are a lot of posts, about 20 to go through and it has been usefull in letting me lay down a periodization plan for my own running, it goes into detail as to what amount of time should be at tempo based work, cruise intervals, race paced intervals etc.. These ideas can be matched up with pace zones which can be taken from the calculator off McMillan. Be warned though there are no short term fixes to be had here, this requires time spent on building up volume and a lot of discipline.

    Harry I think you need to ask yourself why do I want to run sub 20 minutes for a 5km? It is easy to say such things harder to implement it. Making improvements takes time and the better you get the more time you need to put in for a similar gain. If you really do not have a clue how to structure your training then finding a good club or coach might be very good advice and I would go along with that. This is not the only way as there is a wealth of information out there free at source, but if you have not found it already then that says something about your personality and how you prefare to work, we are all different in this respect, some can self coach others need direct guidance, its not how you do it but that you do the right things. If you do seek out a club or coach they will want an honest approach as to what your targets are and why, not ego, along with how much time you can comfortably allocate in aiming for your goals. If you are looking for a short term fix then this puts real pressure on them, be realistic and honest and unless you are a complete novice then a 5% improvement in running in the short term is a very hard ask for anyone.
  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425

    It is Adam that wants the advice not me. I can run sub 18 for 5km any day of the week. As you highlight there is such comlexity in the training factors that sometimes it is easier to slice through the Gordian knot and use a coach.

  • Appologies Harry I scrolled down when starting the reply and picked up the wrong name.
  • Thanks for the response guys alot of things to think about there I am 25 and 13st. my normal training is based around building up base miles as I have a marathon planned for the spring which will need alot of training miles however I am just looking for a quick fix for a race I have on saturday morning to get the best possible results or have I already left it to late?
  • I think the best thing to do is put in a hard run today with some faster than race pace short intervals, take a recovery run tomorrow and a real easy run on Friday and simply go for it on Saturday after a decent warm up.

    At times it is difficult for us to know what we can do in important races and so we stick to race paces and strategies to give us a respectable time based on our abilities.

    I were you Adam I would make the decision that this race isn't worth Jack shit and simply go off hard and try an hang on to the pace if you can. If you can't and blow up after a couple of kilometers cruise in and say who cares I gave it a good go and laugh about it afterwards, there is a good chance taking such an approach may lead to the breakthrough you are looking for.
  • Thanks that look like just the answer I had hoped for I am racing against a friend and he has run sub 20 before however he has let things slip i just think that once he gets back in to it, it will all come flooding back where as I am having to up my game to get there in the first place to try and keep ahead of the game.
  • Go kick his ass, if not make sure you buy him a pint, above all take on and enjoy the challenge.
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