Q:I’m new to running and just completed my first 5k. I typically run three times per week for two to three miles and include a core strength and yoga class twice per week. Can I improve my speed and still continue to run three times per week?
A:Congratulations on running your first 5k! I think you’d be surprised to find that if we all got together for a girls weekend, you’d fit right in. Most runners don’t limit their activities to running. We follow a well-rounded program including a variety of exercises like yoga, swimming and cycling. Not only does it keep things fresh, it can help improve your running performance.
Yes, you can improve your 5k-finish time in three runs per week, especially since you are new to the sport. The key is to make every run purposeful. You can do this easily by making a few simple changes to your running schedule over the next six weeks.
Run longer. Dedicate one run to building endurance. If you can run five miles at an easy effort, you can push hard for a 5k. The key is to run at a conversational pace and build the longer-distance run slowly. Start with 3.5 miles for your first endurance run and add a half mile every week until you reach a total of five miles and hold it there. Most runners schedule this run on the weekend when they have more time.
Add speed work. Speed training is like accessorizing—a little goes a long way. Dedicate your mid-week run to improving speed with the following: Warm up walking a few minutes, then run easy for 10 minutes. Run two minutes at a comfortably hard effort. Follow with two minutes of easy paced walking or running until you can catch your breath. Repeat this hard/easy interval workout four times and run easy for 10 minutes to cool down. Add one two-minute repeat every other week until you reach a total of six intervals.
Run easy. An easy running day allows your body time to adapt to the demands of hard runs. Stick with running two miles at an easy effort and add a half mile every other week until you reach three miles.
Alternate running days. Run every other day and fill in the off days with cross-training activities to enjoy. Your body will have more time to recover, allowing you to run stronger in the next workout.
Think form. The more efficient your form is, the faster you’ll run while using less energy. Try to keep your hands and shoulders relaxed, arms swinging like a pendulum, and take short, quick strides.
Taper your training. Cut your long run to 3.5 miles, and run two easy paced two- to three-mile runs the week of the race. Give yourself a day of complete rest the day before the race.
It’s no secret that I’m an advocate for the regular use of a foam roller for improved muscle function and the Grid raises the bar on the traditional foam roller. The Grid goes the extra mile in allowing you to simulate massage-like benefits as well as deliver a serious core workout! The Grid is a roller based on a grid system of varying widths and densities. The GRID can be used from the comfort of your home, as part of your daily massage routine, or integrated into your running or walking workouts as an optimal core workout. Learn how to use to the Foam Roller in this video.
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