Getting Race Specific
While all types of running will generally help you improve as a runner, race-specific training will produce better results at a particular distance. For example, long runs will help you improve your overall running fitness, but they aren’t very specific to the demands of the 5K or 10K race itself.
The closer you can perform workouts that mimic the exact physical demands of a specific race, the fitter you’ll get at racing that exact distance.
So, how do we target speed endurance in training to better prepare for the 5K and 10K?
Improving Speed Endurance
One mistake runners make when training for the 5K or 10K is running lots of fast VO2 max workouts, which improves the speed component, but doesn’t specifically target your ability to hold a fast pace for an extended period of time.
Consider a workout like 6 x 800 meters at 3K pace with 2 minutes rest. This is a great VO2 max and speed workout. However, it’s not very specific to the demands of the 5K, since the 3 minutes rest allows you to effectively recover fully between each repeat.
A better workout to prepare specifically for the 5K would be something like 6 x 800 meters at goal 5K pace with a short jogging rest at 85 percent of marathon pace. An example for a 20-minute 5K runner would look like: 6 x 800 meters at 3:10-3:15 w/200 meters jogging (8:35 pace) rest between.
In this instance, you’re teaching yourself how to run at 5K pace with as little rest as possible. By not fully recovering and jogging quickly between repeats, you still improve your ability to run at race pace, but you ensure you have the aerobic strength and support to maintain goal pace on race day.
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