As a marathon runner I’d normally dismiss my 5k runs as junk miles. It’s a distance I’ll run before work when I haven’t the time to get a longer run done, or on the treadmill where one minute of running feels like an eternity.
So when I was talking to my PT about what to do with my training over the next few months now that no mathon races are in the diary and she suggested that I focus on getting a good 5k time I was initially a little skeptical.
How could running 5k help me to achieve my sub-4 marathon goal?
My PT explained that we would focus on speed on shorter distances and gradually build up the distance. So 5k becomes 7.5k, then 10k and so on.
This made sense and the more I thought about it after our talk the more I liked the idea of focusing on speed and shorter distances.
I’ve always found racing longer distances easier than shorter ones, in fact it normally takes me about three miles to warm up into the race. So, getting a good 5k time would be a genuine challenge for me.
At the moment I don’t have an official 5k pb. I’ve never done a park run, and the only 5k races I’ve ran are Race for Life events which were my first taste of racing and so I was just happy to get around the course.
Right now my 5k times are over 26 minutes. My PT suggested that I aim for about 25 minutes, putting no pressure on myself. As I’m naturally very competitive against myself (strangely, I’m not competitive against other people at all) I’ve set myself the challenge of running 5k under 24 minutes.
A good thing about focusing on a short distance is that it will involve a much lower weekly mileage but, as speed will be the focus, it will still mean I’m able to get fitter. Although I love running and enjoy the long distances, after consecutive years of running marathons, I think the break that a low mileage training plan will allow will be good for me, both mentally and physically.
While I have no idea if I’ll ever be able to achieve a sub-24 minute goal – I know I will enjoy the challenge of aiming for a sub-24 minute 5k time.