Top tips to improving your 5k & 10k times when races resume

As we start to see a slight shift in the easing of lockdown and a potential light at the end of the tunnel, we can’t help but get a little excited about what races might be able to take place towards the end of the year. Regardless of the outcome, we want to share some of our top tips to running a faster 5 / 10k race so that when we are given the green light to race again, we can all start to work towards smashing those PB’s.

  1. Keep the easy days easy. This is really important. It’s all too easy to push the pace and try to hit every session as hard as possible thinking it will help you improve faster. It’s also hard to rein it in when you feel good whilst on a supposed ‘easy’ run. However, we must ensure easy days remain easy in order for our bodies to recover. Pushing too hard on these days can have a real impact when it comes to the days where you want or should be training hard because you haven’t given the your body the rest it needs to perform on that day. You’ll thus never reach those peak paces and sessions. Don’t be scared to take the easy days easy, they will pay off massively and allow you to push hard when you really need to.
  2. Include strength and explosive power. Although 5 and 10k are deemed as endurance events, they also requires a lot of top end speed. From the off the pace is fast – especially in a 5k – and its unusual to build up pace in such a short distance, so strength training and elements of power need to be included in your training programmes. This isn’t to say the weights you lift have to be heavy – it’s more about the movement patterns and controls around them such as a single-leg deadlift. Squat jumps are another great exercise to build this. Explosive training helps activate the fast-twitch muscles but also reduce the chances of injuries and niggles occurring too.
  3. Track/ interval sessions. When it comes to building speed over shorter distances, track or interval sessions should be included each week. The aim of these sessions is to reduce the overall run volume but the intensity on each interval. You’ll need to give yourself longer recoveries between the reps to ensure the quality is there and ensure that you warm up and cool down properly before these type of sessions.
  4. Hill sprints. Hill sprints are fundamental and should be included weekly throughout training for a race such as 5/10k. They are a fantastic way to develop overall strength whilst doing real-time running. Sprinting uphill forces you to activate your glutes, which I’m sure any runners who have vistited a physio would have been told they aren’t activating properly! Hill sprints open up the hips and force you to push down on the ground more effectively and bring in the upper body too for stabilisation and force generation. Adding them into your training will improve your running form on the flats greatly.