Running a 5k race in Under 19 Minutes

Posted by: Mark Nichols

13 Nov 2011

Thereís a 5k (3.1 mile) race every Thanksgiving morning I like to run. Every year when spring arrives I start to think about that race and how I need to train in order to beat my goal. This year my goal is to break 19 minutes. Last year I ran a 19:34.


I donít think it would normally take me a whole summer to train, but I am getting older. So even before starting running I stretch for a week or two for about 15 minutes a day. It eases the pain once I start to run. I include sit-ups and pushups in that routine. Then I get my body used to the exercise by running 3 to 5 miles a day five or six times a week. Itís not stressful running. I donít include any intervals (like 800 meter repeats).


As I feel myself getting stronger over the summer I start to concentrate on how each part of my body is feeling. What is holding me back? Are my lungs burning while I run? Then I might want to work them harder by including a long hill or two in the run. Are my legs tired? Then I need to push them harder. Iíll run the longer 5 mile distance more frequently. I realized this summer after a race that my quadriceps were weak (because I was sore the following day due to the sprinting start nature of races). So I started mixing in some short uphill sprints and focusing more of my stretching on that area. Now I find Iím more flexible which will also help my stride. I think concentrating on a longer stride has helped my time improve over the last few months.


I could or should still include a more rigorous interval schedule that forces my lungs to work harder for a longer period of time (800 or 400 repeats). In high school we probably averaged 5 miles a day (with Sundays off), but we mixed up the training much more. Given that takes more time than I have (and admittedly more commitment), Iím left to my rudimentary training adjustments (distance or path adjustments with only a few sprints thrown in).


I just timed myself last week at a 19:28 so I still have some improvement to make (granted it was a different course but very similar terrain). With a week and a half left before the big day I need to:


1) Run some longer distances (6+ miles) to keep pushing my legs;

2) Run a few tough hill repeats to keep pushing my lungs;

3) Get a good nightís sleep of 8 hours two nights before the race (the race is Thursday, so Tuesday night);

4) Stretch well and take a very easy 1 mile run the day before the race in order to let my body recover;

5) Get at least 6 hours of sleep the night before the race.


Hopefully these steps will push me over the top. Itíd also be nice to have favorable weather: little wind and perhaps 40 degrees Fahrenheit by the 9 am race time.


Wish me luck! Iíll report back how I do.


© 2011 Dime Brothers

Printed on: 09-24-2023