Do speedwork at least once a week
A 5km race is a short race, compared to say a marathon. And the shorter the race, the faster the pace – unless you plan to just run leisurely to complete it. If you want to improve your time, then you have to do speedwork, says running coach Andrew Cheong of SSTAR.fitness.
Speedwork involves running a short distance of 200m to 800m repeatedly up to 10 or more times on a track with a fixed, short period of rest in between sets. Adding speedwork into your training improves your ability to run faster over a sustained period.
Use the FITT principle
Our bodies respond and adapt to the exercise we do, and to improve, we need to vary what we do. This is done by ensuring every workout is different.
Andrew recommends that you keep changing certain variables using the FITT principle – in other words, change the Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type of the workout. Frequency would mean changing the number of times you run a week from, say, twice to three times. Intensity is the speed you run – alternate between slower and faster runs on different days. Time is the duration you run, so you could do a 30-minute run one day and a 45-minute run the next. Type refers to the type of workouts from running on a track, to running on hills, to cross training activities like swimming or cycling.
(Also Read: The Best Cross-Training Exercises For Runners)
When training on hills, your running gait and posture will be slightly altered, and this helps train other muscles that are not as active when running on flat ground, says Andrew. Adding hills gives you a balanced workout and improves speed.
Beware of running fast downhill – the steeper and faster you run, the higher the chances of knee and ankle problems. Sometimes its best to walk down a steep hill as part of the recovery in between sets if you are doing speedwork.
Photo: Jean-Marie Guyon/123rf.com
Do strength training
A much-neglected part of a runner’s programme is strength training. All you need is your own body weight to do circuit training, CrossFit style exercises, and manual resistance exercises. For the advanced, you can do plyometrics – body weight training with explosive movements like jumps and lunges.
Andrew highlights that strength training won’t result in developing huge muscles. Instead, it keeps you toned and builds strength so that you can run better as well as reduces the risk of injuries.
Improve gait and efficiency
How would you like to run 5km faster, with no extra increase in effort? It can be done if you become a more efficient runner. The way to do that is to improve running economy through the correct stride, an efficient gait and stride cadence. How many steps you take per minute and your stride length are correlated to the energy you use to run.
(Check out this other story that has Andrew’s advice on improving running gait and efficiency: 3 Tips to Run Faster and More Efficiently.)
Andrew is the founder of SSTAR.fitness. Coaching since 2010, he is dedicated to training runners of any ability for races ranging from 5km to 42km – and beyond. He a certified distance running coach by the Road Running Clubs of America, a qualified FISAF personal trainer, and has completed the IAAF Track and Field coaching course. He is also a certified Mental Toughness Coach. Andrew has competed in over 30 marathons and Ironman races. Most notably, he is an Abbott Six Star World Marathon Major recipient and has qualified for the prestigious Boston Marathon every year for the past seven years. Visit www.sstar.fitness for more information on running workshops or if you wish to sign up for a free coaching trial.