/ 5K advice

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Traveller - on 05 Jan 2013
How realistic is a 20 minute 5k?

I ran my first 5k a week ago. I used to do quite a bit of running (though was never much good) mainly half marathons and the like, and speed-work etc with the local running club. But due to current circumstances 5k is more suitable because of time available for training etc (difficult to find time for long runs).

I hadn't trained for the 5k per se, and did it on a whim, but have been doing a couple of short (2.5 miles) runs per week, and fairly intense circuit training twice a week, mainly for general fitness/weight loss for climbing.

I did the 5K in 22.27; given that my focus is climbing, not running, is it completely unrealistic to aim for a 20m 5K by the summer? How much training do people normally put in to get that time?

Any advice much appreciated.
JayPee630 - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to Traveller:

I'm 40, and a half arsed runner following no real program, just running 2/3 times a week. I have done a few 5ks this year and have got 20.01 for both my last 2, so imagine it can't be that unrealistic for you.
Ava Adore - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to Traveller:

For me it would be completely impossible without a jet pack. ;-). Good luck!
strudles - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to Traveller:

if you can 22:27 then you can do sub 20 if you want to!

I used to run a quite a bit but stopped in 2007, I started again last year running twice a week with the running club at work. I entered my local parkrun and ran 22 and 23 minutes on my first attempts.

with no more than running 6-7k twice a week and the odd parkrun i've improved to 20:30 over the year, although my park run is very hilly and I would probably run 18 minutes on a flat course and my old pb from 2006 is low 17 mins so i have some kind of historical base :)

some things that will help you find that 2 minutes that will also help climbing:

- make 1 run a week include a steep hill session (improve strength)
- alternate that with a sprinting session (3k warmup run to a running track and 100m sprints/variations) then 3-5k back. It really helps if you sprint against faster runners to push yourself.
- lean off a bit (assuming you don't have a low body fat percentage already), lose a few kg's will help you run faster (this could be as simple as slightly upping your running distances without increasing calorie intake)

lastly, pace your 5k, get a good stop watch work out a target pace, possibly latch on to another runner likely to run that pace. I.e you can probably find 45 seconds just by pacing the course correctly and maximising your performance. Oh and try really hard, 5ks races are supposed to hurt :)

all this will give small gains on your climbing as you will be slightly lighter, have better core strength from speed sessions and improve leg strength (for standing up on slabs etc) and make the walk in easier!

Mr Fuller on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to Traveller: Absolutely do-able. I do no specific running training for 90% of the year and run consistently sub-20.30 in my local Parkrun. I do circuit training, big hill days and a bit of climbing, but apart from when I'm training for big runs, I don't do any road miles. I have seen mates running 22 minutes get under 20 in less than six months just by training a bit and working on race pace (eg. steady pacing at 4 minutes per km rather than blasting the start and flagging towards the end).
Traveller - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to Traveller: Thanks so much for taking the time to write those replies. It's really appreciated, though now I have no excuses!
nniff - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to Traveller:

Sign up for parkrun. It's free - you get a time every week, your stats are on-line and there's always someone to chase to keep you going.
Moley on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to Traveller: Also worth considering is: "What is the point of running a faster 5k? If your focus is climbing is their any particular reason for it, especially if you are not that good (talented?) at running?

Why not think about long days out in the hills walking/jogging and enjoying the outdoors, surely better than putting all that time and energy into pavement pounding for 20 minutes.
Traveller - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to nniff: Thanks! Have done - that was the 5k I did.
Liam M - on 05 Jan 2013
In reply to strudles: Which is your local parkrun? I'm trying to imagine one in London with enough climb to make that much difference to time over 5k.

To the op, that's a tricky question and one you can only answer by trying. Last winter/spring I was running 60-75k per week, including track sessions and racing most weeks, but still only hit about 20.1x. I'm just not designed for short distance and struggle to improve short distance pace (though am much better at converting it to longer distances).

If you're similar you may find sub-20 doesn't come easily. I know quite a lot of runners like this. However I also know quite a few who just seem naturally very quick over the short distance. One indicator I've found is running ability when young - almost all the faster runners I've known as an adult had impressive middle distance results as kids, and seem to achieve fast 5ks off relatively little training.
strudles - on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to Liam M:

I do the finsbury park run, its a 2 lapper, it has a half mile drag up a steady incline then a steep descent followed by a nasty 250m climb, the steep climb is similar in profile to primrose hill (although primrose is a bit longer).

alexander palace is probably the steepest/longest hill in london but the parkrun there avoids the steepest parts

martinph78 on 06 Jan 2013
In reply to strudles: Agree with everything stridles says.

I'm currently jogging without a plan, just 20-35mins 4 or 5 nights a week, but was looking at parkrun. I think my 5k time would be nearer 40mins at the moment though!


Does anyone know of a good website that lets you type in the distance you'd like to run, then plots a route for you from your home? I've tried plotting on google maps manually but never seem to get the route right or the distance!
The New NickB - on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to Liam M:

I can't imagine any London road route that would turn an 18 minute 5k into a 20:30 5k, in fact I know Finsbury Park a bit and don't remember it being particularly hilly. There is 18 seconds between my Heaton Park parkrun PB, which was a killer hill, and my 5k PB done at the Sale Sizzlers, which is pan flat.
The New NickB - on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to Traveller:

It all comes down to natural talent and how hard you want to work at it. I got back in to running at 35, I was pretty slow, about 24 minute 5k. I have some natural ability, but not huge amounts, I was prepared to work quite hard at it though. It took me about six months to run sub 20, took me another year to run sub 19, I am hoping I will get sub 18 this year, although that isn't one of my main targets.

You will probably find that you will find a level after six month of training at whatever level of commitment suits you best, this may be a big improvement on your current time, it may be sub 20, any improvement beyond that will be hard slog.
wbo - on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to Traveller: 5k is a difficult distance to run, and absolutely my favourite. To be good at it you need to be pretty fit aerobically, combined with the ability to be a little bit anaerobic for the lengh of the race. Forget all this cruising the first half business , it's going to hurt the whole way.
The stock, basic session for this is something like 5 or 6 * 1km with one minutes recovery, and run the k's at race pace. I personally converted this to minutes, and would run 6 * 3 minutes over a slightly rolling cross country course in Richmond Park (as an example). Once you've got that under control you can tweak it to sometimes include longer intervals (anything over 4 mins is hard) and if you really want, you can do the session, jog 15 minutes and do some short, steep hills of maybe 150m with a walk/jog down recovery. That is a very hard session some Kenyans told me.

But get the K reps under control and your 5k will improve, and so will your other races.
strudles - on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to The New NickB:

19 flat is actually more likely time for me over a flat 5k course at the moment, I'm tempted to do bushy park this week actually if this chest infection clears up in time..

But anyway, the point I was going to make is that people have different strengths and weaknesses, for example I cannot sprint, no fast twitch muscles at all :) I'm also not naturally strong. However what I can do is slot into a really fast pace and hold it there for a long time. Hills mess me up (mostly it's the descents where I get dropped as I struggle to up my pace after the hill).

for a long time my pb at 5k was only 18:30, but I could also run back to back 10k's at 37 minutes (half marathon pb at 1h21 ish)

speed sessions against more natural sprinters and sprinting up hills helped me inject extra pace
chiz - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to all: I'm also interested in whether its really possible to 'easily' get sub 20? Seems pretty fast to me but I haven't run properly in 20 years, other than the odd sprint down a mountain. Went for a short 'run' a week ago with a mate and was encouraged to give it a try again. I managed to stagger 5k through the woods in 31 minutes, managed to get that down to just under 28 mins on the 3rd go, and was hoping to be able to get sub 25 once I got a bit fitter. Is it worth aiming for sub 20?
I can't really spare much more time than half an hour a day to run, do I need to do longer runs to get faster/fitter or is sticking to 5k runs ok? there's plenty of hills round here to make it harder...is aiming for sub 20 likely to lead to frustration and failure, or is that actually a fairly even pace (i.e. running properly, not jogging). Can I really cut 8 minutes??
Wilbur - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to The New NickB:
> (In reply to Liam M)
>
> I can't imagine any London road route that would turn an 18 minute 5k into a 20:30 5k,

Muswell hill
Highgate
Wimbledon hill

To name a few...

The New NickB - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Wilbur:

None of them really big hills, they wouldn't add anything like 2:30 to any 5k route for anyone running at that sort of pace.

The New NickB - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to chiz:

From the information you have given you might be able to do it, but it is likely to take quite a lot of hard work.
The New NickB - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Wilbur:

Just been looking back at some of my results to compare flat and hilly times, I did a 10k which had a total ascent of about 75' the only noticeable hills were bridges over railway lines. Not long after I did a 10k with 866' of ascent, so almost twice the height of the highest point in London, the difference, less than a minute.
wbo - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Traveller: Agree - Wimbledon hill twice (or the equivalent off the Ridgeway ) added about 30secs to my time. What's the course record for that, and whom?

I don't see why the OP can't knock 3 mins off tho' with some proper training, which will basically be more running
Rollo - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Traveller:

Yes! Work at it, race regularly (assuming you're not away climbing!).

Go to Bushy Park if you're in London, the original and flattest!
soularch on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Traveller: Just to echo the thoughts of a lot of folk on this thread. Stick with the Parkrun's as they're terrific training in a competitive-ish environment (although my local one is so full of friendly folk). My local one is more like a hilly cross-country route which is perfect, the hills really bring you on and ultimately help my winter mountaineering fitness.

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