From the June 2012 issue of Runner’s World
By Lindsey Emery
Busting the 25-minute barrier marks you as a “serious” runner. It requires a commitment to more mileage and focused workouts, and can take a couple of years to achieve. “Your goal is to engage different types of muscle fibres every time you work out, which teaches your body to race,” says Rea. That education includes workouts that prepare you to run negative splits, expose you to different terrain, and fortify your body for the rigours of running fast.
5:00 per kilometre
Who's up for it?
Runners who regularly perform long runs of at least 13 kilometres and can complete one all-out 1km in about 4:40 to 4:50
Exceed Race Pace
Running faster than goal speed “prepares you to run the first half of your 5K at a solid clip and pick it up in the second half,” says coach Frank Gagliano. Twice a week after easy or steady-pace runs do 10 x 200-metre cut-downs: Start at 5K pace and get slightly faster each time. The last effort will be fast. Jog 200 metres between each. Three weeks before race day, run 1km at goal pace, jog five minutes, then do 5 x 300 metres at 10 to 15 seconds faster than goal pace. Walk 100 metres between each.
Vary The Terrain
Boost the benefits of speedwork by occasionally going off-road. “When you run on the track, you’re always moving in the same direction, which puts your body off-balance,” says Kastor. “If you do half of your speed sessions on trails or grass instead, you’ll reduce the impact on your joints, stimulate more muscles, and improve your efficiency.”
Lose The Junk
With a sub-25-minute goal, there’s no room or time in your training plan for mindless running. Even steady-state, weekday runs should serve the ultimate purpose – prepping your energy systems to deal with the rigours of race day. “For example,” says Rea, “every fifth minute, you should throw in a 30-second surge that’s about three to six seconds per kilometre faster.”
Build A Strong Engine
“To run fast, you have to be a pusher, and to push, you need a strong posterior chain,” says Norman. A weak link in your glutes, hammies, calves, or back forces other muscles to overcompensate and increases injury risk. Build strength by doing a weekly hill run. “Hills are a poor man’s weight machine,” says Rea. “They strengthen the glutes, hamstrings and hips.” Supplement incline runs with twice-weekly body-weight exercises – do three sets of four to six reps of single-leg squats, side lunges and box steps.
COUNTDOWN TO RACE DAY
Race-week workouts to stay focused and sharp for your sub-25 attempt
2 x 1km tempo at 5:00 pace. Jog 30 to 45 seconds between each. Run 3km to warm up and cool down.
5 to 6km easy running
6 x 400m at 2:00 (race pace) with 1:30 recovery between each. Run 3km to warm up and cool down.
3 to 5km easy running.
Warm up with a 15- to 20-minute jog, then do 5 to 10 minutes of light stretching. Follow with 5 to 10 minutes of drills. Run 4 to 6 x 100m strides at 80 per cent effort, with a 40-second rest between each.
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