Earlier this year I decided to try a 5 km running training plan. It was a free plan from online at Runners World.
I was really pleased with how I went with it, and the results gained. Just before I started the plan, I went out and timed myself run 5 km from our house. I've previously measured this run so I knew it was the right distance, but also used a GPS watch to confirm it.
My 5 km time was 25 minutes and 26 seconds (on Jan 17th)
So then I started the plan. I printed the plan off and put in on the fridge so that I could see it each day and check off the days as I completed them. This was really important for me as I find checking off completed workouts and seeing this visually and constantly really helps my motivation. I got up early through the week and did the runs before the rest of the house got up so the time didn't eat into my day. I also found this a great way to start the day too. I didn't generally eat anything before running, just drank some water, and occasionally had a small banana half an hour before running, although I didn't find this made much difference.
Doing 'strides' after my runs was something new for me. Basically once I'd finished my run, I'd do sprints up and down our street for 20 seconds each, walking for 40 seconds between each one. Most days I found these more tiring than the long run, perhaps because I'm just not used to sprinting! For the days when I had to run certain parts of my run at a faster pace, I found this tricky out on the roads and paths to judge without a GPS watch. Some days I ran on our treadmill at home and this made pacing much easier.
The runs throughout the 5 weeks were well balanced. They all pushed me and there were days when I didn't feel like doing them but I did stick to the plan and completed all the runs. So the big day was today - 'race day'. I warmed up and set off at a good pace, determined to beat my previous time. After the 5 weeks of training I did feel stronger in my running and felt confident I could go faster. It was a hot and humid day - nearly 60% humidity and just over 30 C .
I pushed hard the whole way. My first kilometre was fast (4 mins) and just before halfway I knew I was doing well when I was faster than I'd ever been at one of the turns. The final kilometre was hard, especially thanks to the slight uphill incline, I had a stitch and everything hurt!
When I finished I checked the time and was so pleased! Much faster than 5 weeks previously.
My new 5 km time was 24 minutes and 17 seconds (on Feb 23rd).
An improvement of 1 minute and 9 seconds in just 5 weeks. I'm pretty happy with that. I would definitely recommend this intermediate 5 km running plan. It was easy to follow, pushed me without being too much, and the last 'taper' week seemed just right to prepare me for 'race day'.
I followed this training programme once again, leading up to a 5km race I entered in June. In that race I recorded a new personal best time of just under 23 mins! Definite success.