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Running a Faster 5k

As I mentioned in this post I am shooting for a PR on my next 5k race. So, how do I plan to run a faster 5k? Speedwork! I'm no professional, but this is what I do for speed work:

  1. Intervals at the track. There is a high school track very close to my house (lucky me). I generally get up uber early and head down there before it's hot. After a short warm up I do either a full lap (400 meters) or a half lap (200 meters) at a hard pace. Then walk to recover, then go again. I generally try to cut my time a few seconds each lap if I can. Racing against myself makes it more fun for me. I'll start with maybe 8 speed intervals and then add an interval each week. I would generally only do this type of workout once a week.
  2. Hill running. Hills are great for increasing speed. My parents have the perfect hill in their driveway. Once I've warmed up, I run top speed up the hill, then slow jog back down to recover. Like track intervals I'll try to beat my time and race myself each uphill. I may start with 6-8 uphills and add on each workout if I can. This workout I would also only do once a week, or even every other week. For this 5k I will probably alternate it every other week with...
  3. Treadmill Intervals. On days where I'm simply stuck at the house these work great. These are much less structured for me. I warm up, then maybe run at 6 mph for a minute, then slow jog, then 6.5 mph for a minute, then slow jog. I up my speed each interval and try to hold it a minute, but if I can't then maybe just 30-45 seconds. I usually top out at 8.5 mph or so and then cool down.
That's my plan. These are the workouts I used for my fastest 5k so far and I'm sure they won't fail me this time either! And of course I'm focused on getting the scale down some too. It's amazing to me as I lose weight how running just seems easier. Which makes sense when I think about it. Running around carrying 200+ pounds is just harder than carrying 175 pounds (or less, I'm hoping for less).

Here's a link to a great article from Runner's World on speedwork for anyone.

Do you include speedwork in your running routine? All the time or just when you're really focused on a PR or good race time?