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Five Tips to Better 5K Training

The end of summer is in sight. For some, it’s the start of the best time of the year: the time of perfect running weather. Dry trails, lower temperatures and gorgeous, changing colors provide a string of weeks that are perfect for running outdoors.

Also approaching on Sept. 28 is the Hey Hey 5K in Baileys Harbor. That puts us seven weeks away from race day, and there’s still time to sign up and train, even if you’re a beginner.

Typically, if you’re preparing for your first 5K, you’ll want to dedicate six to eight weeks to training for it. If you’re already a consistent runner, plan to dedicate four weeks. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced runner, here are five excellent tips from local runner, physical trainer Annie Bley of AB Functional Training:

1. 10 Percent Rule

During your training cycle, increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10 percent, with every three to four weeks being a lower-mileage week. This rule applies primarily to longer training cycles, and especially if you’re a beginner. Going from running very little to running five miles a day will likely lead to injury instead of a faster race time.

Hal Higdon, a renowned runner known for his effective training plans, recommends running only four and a half miles during the first week of training and gradually increasing mileage from there. (See his novice 5K plan at halhigdon.com/training-programs/5k-training/novice-5k.)

2. Train the Distance 

Training runs should be between three and five miles. This will help you get comfortable with the 3.1-mile length of the 5K and be able to find your target pace more easily on race day.

3. Think Intervals 

If you’re looking to beat a previous race time, add an interval workout once a week to increase your efficiency and speed. Begin building up with shorter distances such as 10×400 meter (400 meter = once around a running track) and then 5×800-meter repeats. Ten to 14 days before the race, try completing 5×1000-meter repeats at your goal race pace to check your progress and make adjustments on your target time if necessary.

4. Run Fast, Run Slow

Make your hard days hard and easy days easy. Running the same distance and pace will only result in a plateau. Mix it up! Easy runs should be at a pace at which you can easily hold a conversation with a running partner. 

5. Prehab

The secret to preventing injury is adding strength training and flexibility through active warmups that increase mobility. Before you begin a training run, include short activities such as strides, jumping jacks or jogging to get your heart rate up and blood flowing. 

Get more race information and sign up for the Hey Hey 5K at heyhey5k.com. Registration includes a T-shirt, Door County Brewing Co. pint glass, and a free, post-race beer or root beer. 

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