Interval training for 5k speed. You must get outside your comfort zone to get faster.


Outside the comfort zone.

Whilst I am a great believer in adopting a holistic approach to getting the best out of you as a runner, this should not be confused with thinking that you don’t need to do the hard running too.

On the contrary, you will need to get out of your comfort zone regularly if you want to get faster or go further.

As you gain the right balance between strength and mobility in the right areas, as you get a better handle on nutrition, sleep and stress and get the right balance of training, you can then start to take yourself out of your comfort zone with some progressively harder interval training.

The shorter the distance you are targetting the more important this will be. You can do all the gym work you like and work on form and cadence etc. to your heart’s content, but you will reach a sticking point unless you do this.

Your body needs to know what it feels like to run faster and will adapt to the stress you put on it, provided you introduce it slowly and allow adequate recovery. Equally important, your brain needs to know that it’s safe to go hard and keep going hard, that you won’t collapse in a heap and die, that you can endure this discomfort, for that’s what it undoubtedly is.

For 5k success I recommend starting once a week and eventually increasing to twice per week. One session should focus on longer intervals to build speed endurance (maybe 1000 to 2000 metre reps). The other could focus on pure speed or occasionally pure power (so anything from 100 metres up to say 500 metres).

Recovery time would be less on the longer repeats and more on the shorter. Jog recoveries rather than walking are preferred for the longer ones.

The winter months may be better spent focusing on rebuilding your aerobic base rather than stressing the anaerobic system all year round. Indeed, it’s a good idea to do this occasionally during race season too.

For more guidance on interval training for runners, contact David on 07504439555 or email

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