OK so you have been running for a while and have done a few 5K races, but you are getting burned out early in the race or you do not have the speed to keep up with other runners. What can you do to improve your times? Add speed workouts to your running regiment.
I like to run two different kinds of speed workouts per week. The first one I run is 1/4 mile intervals on a track. These intervals are designed to help with my speed and leg turnover. I start out by stretching and then running a mile to warm up my legs. Then I run 12 of these intervals. They entail one lap at a time around the track. The time I usually shoot for is between 1:17-1:23 and these intervals are not run at 100%. They are run at about 90%. If I were to go run the first one all out I most likely could not finish the workout or if I did, my times would most likely suffer. After each interval I walk about 100m and then run the next one. Once I complete all 12 I go run a mile cool down to shake the lactic acid out of my legs.
Now the other speed workout I run is called a tempo run. This is built more for endurance so I can hold my speed for longer during a race. These are also run at about 90%. Starting out it is best to run three miles at your tempo pace (mine is 6:25-6:41) and then after a month up it to four miles. Just like the interval workout it is best to start with a mile warm up before the workout is started and do run a cool down mile after the workout is completed. Then I try my best to hit my time range for each mile. If I can do this combined with hitting my time for my intervals I will become a faster runner and can run a faster time for a 5K race.
My first I came back from running I did not run any speed workouts and I got my time from 24 minutes to 21:40 minutes without running a speed workout. However I ran these times in the past and my body was used to these times. My second year back I also did not do any speed workouts and I only dropped my time to 21:12.
This made me decide last year I needed to include speed workouts again and I was able to drop my time down to 20:25 by the end of last year which was a new PR for me. Then I continued the speed workouts this year and now my PR is at 19:08!
Speed workouts do help out your time as a runner. If you add these couple of workouts in, your times will drop if they are properly run.
To figure out what time you should run for your speed workout enter your recent 5K time into the McMillan Calculator and it will crank out your different paces you should run.