3 Key Workouts to Run a Faster 5K

I know you’re like me, you want to run a faster 5K, and you want to run the fastest 5K that you possibly can, but you don’t know where to start in running intervals. Maybe you watch my interval series where I explained to you what the intervals are, but you don’t know what workouts are the most important. Well,

I’m Jesse Funk and on today’s episode of Runner’s High, I’m going to share with you my three key workouts for running faster 5K.

So, these three workouts are not the be all end all of every single training program. That said, these are the three workouts I would pick, if you put a gun to my head and said, you can only pick three workouts to do, and you only can do those three workouts to become the best runner that you can possibly be.

It’s kind of like when you say if you can only do one lift for the rest of your life, what do you choose, probably power cleans because power cleans work so many different muscles. So, these are not the only way to accomplish your goal, but they are a good way if you want a very simple training plan, and you don’t mind doing the exact same thing over and over again. 

Our three workouts are going to cover the three key areas to a fast 5K. And those three areas are aerobic development, maximum power, and most importantly, lactate threshold. Because when you’re racing a 5K, especially that lactate threshold is what’s going to allow you to maximize your power over that period of time, say anywhere from 15 minutes to 20 minutes, wherever you are in your development, maybe it’s even up to 25 minutes.

But for you physically, being able to tolerate lactate and for your body to flush it out is going to be the key indicator in maximizing your potential as a 5K runner. 

Workout number one, this is going to be for aerobic development, and that is a 20-minute steady state run. If you want to know more about steady state, go check out my series on interval run, subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss out on any videos.

But the basics of this is you want to do a 20 minute run at roughly half marathon pace, something faster than your long run pace, but not so fast as to be like 10K or really working very hard. You want to basically get to the point where you’re running and your lungs are just about to turn on is how I refer to it.

When you go from a very aerobic capacity to breathing harder or being able to hear your breath, you want to get to the point just before you can hear your breath, and then hold there for 20-minute run. 

Number two, this workout is going to work on your max power. And this is going to be a workout of eight to 12 by 400 meters. And I suggest doing these at one to one rest. Which means, if you run a 400 in 90 seconds, then you’re going to take 90 seconds rest.

Now, you have to use the Jack Daniels Table if you’re trying to figure out what your actual pace should be. It’s going to be that interval pace in the Jack Daniels Table. I actually talked about this in another video, I have a lot of videos on this channel. So, stay tuned, as always, as I said before, subscribe. 

But using the Jack Daniels Table and your target time for your 5K should tell you what you should be running these 400 intervals at. You can start at that eight, and then you want to work up to 12. The reason being that we’re trying to get to a mimic of the 5K in distance.

So, you don’t want to go over that because you’re actually going to be running a 5K at this pace, you’re running faster than 5K pace. The idea with raising max power is that when your roof is here, you know, your lactate threshold can only come up so much. 

So, the idea is to raise the roof, I didn’t mean to say that, but we’ll go with my terrible pun. You’re going to raise the roof, raise the ceiling of your maximum power so that your lactate threshold can consequently also come up. If your max power doesn’t come up, then you’ll never be able to get past a certain point because you’re always running at a certain capacity or certain percentage of your maximum. 

Your third final and most important workout is going to be five to eight times 1,000 meters on the track. And this is going to be the key workout for you to become a faster 5K, and you actually want to do this at 5K pace. The whole idea is to get used to running the exact pace you want to run.

And as you progress if you’re not racing all the time, say you only race every few months, then if you progress from five to eight, you do five one day, then six, then seven, then eight, you know, subsequent days, not in a row please, but in subsequent weeks as you’re working through your schedule.

And you get to a point where you can run eight at your target 5K pace, and it feels easy, then you can start working on improving those intervals times within the workout which will consequently improve your bike 5K time. 

The thing I like about thousands instead of 800 or 1,200 is that it’s short enough, it’s not three laps, but it’s also over two laps. I find a lot of people like to fudge with two laps and only doing an 800.

If you do an 800 it’s like you get around one lap and you’re like okay, I can get through another lap. A 1m000 forces you to sit in mentally and that’s another thing, we need to train our mind to be a better 5K runner to sustain a little bit more pain to become the best 5K runner we can be. 

So, not only are we working on that lactate threshold, the ability to clear lactate our muscles faster; we’re also working on our mental capacity to deal with a discomfort in this kind of pace in interval.

What you’ll come out with on the other side, having accomplished this workout over and over again to really get in that groove of that particular pace is one you’ll be in better shape which is great, that’s what you want. But two, you will be very very familiar with how that pace feels. 

And I’m a big fan of RPE or rate of perceived exertion. I think the best runners are excellent at RPE, and know how their body feels at various paces is the key to you know, pacing when you have a different course you have ups and downs you have weird things going on, letting people go or going too fast for you to start or passing people. You get this internal sense of being through learning RPE, and particularly in this workout that will guide you through 5K, 10K and beyond. 

So, those are my three key workouts for being a faster 5K runner or running a faster 5K. If you have any questions for me, leave them in the comments below. As always, I’ll see you the next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.

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