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I have been very casually jogging for a few years, and generally clock about 32-34 minutes for a 5k (with a one-time PB of 31:30). I decided with having lots of free time throughout lockdown I'd follow a plan to improve my 5k time in the hope of running a 30 minute 5k.

It's an 8-week plan running five times a week - a mixture of 4-5k runs, interval training, and weekly longer distances (7-10k). After three weeks of following the plan strictly, I had shaved 15 seconds off my 5k time with a a PB of 31:15, but in the fourth week I started getting slower and finding them far more difficult.

I decided to have a week off the plan thinking I might just be tired, but I've restarted it again this evening with a 5k and, although I enjoyed the run itself, I'm back to doing a 34 minute 5k. I'm at a loss as to why running five times a week has apparently brought no improvement in my overall pace! Is this normal? Is my hope an unrealistic one??

Any suggestions or advice would be much appreciated!
 

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Hey there,

First of all, what pace are you running at for your runs? Most of your runs should be run at an easy pace that doesn't leave you completely gassed or anything. For example, if you do a mixture of 4-5km runs, they should be run at a significantly slower pace than your personal best. Like a 35-37 minute 5km.

Secondly, I think you should work on building you aerobic base first. Build the mileage before you build your speed. Again, slow miles for the most part, and every week add 1-3km to your weekly total, and maybe every 4 weeks or so, have a bit of a down week to stay fresh. It is good that you are adding in a long run. Keep that slow as well, but don't be afraid to add a few km over time to that as well.

Finally, once you feel like you are running all of the distances easy, add in a tempo run. This is NOT an all out effort. This is about 80% effort. However, you can actually build this to be LONGER than your 5km, maybe capping it at 8km. So this if your goal is a 6:15/km pace (10:03/mile), this would be more at a 6:30/km pace (10:27/mile). Don't jump right up to 8km tempo of course. Maybe start at a 3km at that pace, and slowly build it up.

When you can finally run 8km at that pace, and you are satisfied with the mileage you are now doing, you can add in a few speed workouts. (ie: 1km intervals at a 6:00/km pace perhaps.) Maybe start with 3 intervals with a 3 minute rest in between, and if that feels good, as with the others, slowly add over time.

You can also do strides at the end of an easy run once or twice a week to develop speed as well. (15 secs at 80% sprint).

I actually have a series of videos that goes further in depth in building your aerobic base. I would appreciate it if you checked it out. I think it would be extremely helpful for you. I will link you to the first video of the series, and if you go to my channel there is a playlist called "Become a Better Runner" that has the rest of the videos. I release two videos per week, so feel free to subscribe as well. :)


Hope this all helps,
Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
This is so helpful, thankyou! And it's good news for me too, as I've found during this plan that I find the slower, longer runs much more fun than the others (which has definitely never been the case for me!)

When I do 5ks, my pace is generally always between 6:20-6:50. But I'm always aiming for 6:20+ every time, meaning I'm always disappointed when I'm slower. So it's good to know that I need to not just be trying to make every 5k a PB! When I'm doing longer distances, my pace is generally about 7:00-7:20.

I'll check out your videos too - thanks so much for the really helpful advice.
 

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There we have it, we have found your issue! Hehe.

Making every day a PB is the last thing you want to do!

Let me know how your training goes over the next couple of weeks now that you're changing it up!
Just remember that you're results will come, but you just have to build that base first, and you will destroy your time in the future! :)
 

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Oh, how I relate to this. My competitive nature used to mean that every time I went out for a run it had to be longer and/or faster than the previous run. Unsurprisingly I spent more time with my feet up nursing one injury or another than I did running. I think my Ah-Ha moment was reading Matt Fitzgerald's 8020 Running, which in a nutshell made me understand that sometime less is more. Doing more easy paced running has made sure I've avoided injury for longer than I can ever remember.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
There we have it, we have found your issue! Hehe.

Making every day a PB is the last thing you want to do!

Let me know how your training goes over the next couple of weeks now that you're changing it up!
Just remember that you're results will come, but you just have to build that base first, and you will destroy your time in the future! :)

Hey Matthew - just wanted to give you a bit of an update and a thank you!

Within just two weeks of taking your advice - focussing on increasing distance instead of thinking about my pace - I had shaved 8 MINUTES off my 10k time in just two weeks.

I did a 10k in 1:13 - then an 11k, 12k, 13k at a fairly similar pace - then went back to doing a 10k and did it in 1:05 (a new PB!)

I've found it so much more enjoyable too. Just feel it suits me better. Although my running routine has dropped back recently just with some work commitments, I'm feeling hugely motivated to get back into a routine now I have a more solid idea of what to do!

Thanks again for your help and such detailed advice.

Kim
 

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Hey Matthew - just wanted to give you a bit of an update and a thank you!

Within just two weeks of taking your advice - focussing on increasing distance instead of thinking about my pace - I had shaved 8 MINUTES off my 10k time in just two weeks.

I did a 10k in 1:13 - then an 11k, 12k, 13k at a fairly similar pace - then went back to doing a 10k and did it in 1:05 (a new PB!)

I've found it so much more enjoyable too. Just feel it suits me better. Although my running routine has dropped back recently just with some work commitments, I'm feeling hugely motivated to get back into a routine now I have a more solid idea of what to do!

Thanks again for your help and such detailed advice.

Kim
Hey Kim!

Congrats on the new PB, and you're absolutely welcome! I'm glad I can help!
You'll have to continue to fill me in on your improvements, and let me know if you have any other questions for me as I am always happy to help fellow runners!

Cheers!
 
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