Nothing says summer in Central Texas like a 5K race. From the Fourth of July celebrations through Labor Day, 5Ks abound. And let’s face it, 5Ks do have some great things going for them. They’re relatively short, but require a serious mix of strength and speed. You’ll be running at close to maximum effort for 3.1 miles—not an easy task. In order to do well, you’ll need some good prep workouts under your belt. You’ll want workouts that teach you how to run at 5K pace, with only short rest intervals. By not fully recovering between repeats, you’ll improve your ability to sustain race pace.
Here are a few favorites:
- The standard 12 X 400. Run two to three miles for a warm-up, then (on the track) run 12 x 400 meters at 5K goal race pace. For the rest interval, jog 100 meters. The key here is the short rest period—that’s what makes this a 5K-specific workout.
- 800 repeats. Run two to three miles for a warm-up, then (on the track) run 8 x 800 meters at 5K goal race pace. For the rest interval, walk or jog 200 meters. To add a bonus to this workout, choose one late repeat and really go for it all out. Run a one to two-mile cool down.
- Hit the hills. Hill training will definitely improve 5K running performance. By running hills, you’ll teach your body to apply more force with each foot strike—a very running-specific form of strength training. Not only that, but hill training will help you improve running economy which can translate to better times at all distances. Hill workouts are more about effort than speed. Run two to three miles for a warm-up first. For the actual workout, choose a moderately long hill—say 200-400 meters and do four repeats at 90-100% effort, jogging down for recovery. Over time, work up to eight repeats.
- 1000-meter repeats. (Caution- this workout is tough and requires a build-up period of eight to 10 weeks). This is coach Greg McMillan’s (former Austinite and nationally known distance coach) favorite 5K workout. “If you can perform five 1000-meter repeats at your goal 5K pace in the last one to two weeks before your race, you will achieve your goal time,” says McMillan. “Do your usual warm-up then run five 1000-meter repeats at your goal 5K pace. Do 400- to 600-meter recovery jogs between each repeat. McMillan advises his runners to, “prepare for this intense workout like you will your race — be well-recovered, properly hydrated and fueled, use the equipment you’ll use in the race, run at the time of day that you’ll be racing, etc.”
Upcoming races: Thursday, June 6 at 8:00 p.m. Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run 5K at Walter Seaholm Drive. Saturday, June 8 at 8:00 a.m., the CASA Movie Hero Run 5K at Stars and Stripes Drive-In Theater, 1178 Kroesche Lane in New Braunfels