Prepping to run a 5K is an excellent way to get into shape. And if you’re in the business of trying to shave time off your personal best, you’ve come to the right place.
It’s easy to get into a slump when you’re working so hard but can’t seem to improve your time no matter what you do. You’re putting in the work every day, but your efforts seem wasted when you check your time again, disappointed.
The good news is we may be able to help. We’ve pooled five simple tips you can do to cut time off your 5K according to experts.
Stop Running the Distance
First off, what you don’t want to do is run too far during each training session. Doing this actually does more harm than good.
According to speed specialist Richie Norton, running 5K each time you train doesn’t train your muscles for speed. And if you’re trying to cut those seconds off, we require the need for speed!
Instead, Norton recommends dedicating two sessions per week to 10 sets of 200m runs. You’ll want to start at a normal jogging pace and increase your speed each time. By doing this, you’re priming your muscle fibers to unleash their peak speed.
Each Fit Factory location has plenty of treadmills onsite to try this out and inch closer to your 5K goals!
Mix up Your Training
Believe it or not, constantly running every training session doesn’t always help. Ben Parker, Head Coach at The Run Buddy, says this can lead to overtraining.
What you want to do is mix in other components to your training. Parker says utilizing HIIT workouts and sessions on the elliptical machine and exercise bike is a brilliant way to add more stimulus to the heart and lungs while improving strength.
You can find these pieces of equipment on the cardio deck at all Fit Factory clubs. You can even jump into a FIT Cycle class! Most of our clubs offer HIIT N Strength classes as well - pop in to spice up your training!
And let’s not forget about strength training!
Vanessa Gebhardt, Mind Coach and Training Specialist at Freeletics, mentions that sprinkling in strength training makes you a stronger runner. Plus, it reduces your risk of injury, and we want to avoid that at all costs.
Gebhardt adds that lifting will also help you lose weight due to leaner muscle mass burning more calories at rest. Add in some performing exercises like explosive squat jumps, and you’ll drastically boost your muscle mass quicker than solely running.
Interested in trying a group fitness class to get in that strength training? Most of our clubs offer classes like Total Body Burn or Barbell FIT. Our instructors will handle the programming - all you have to do is show up ready to work!
Work on Mobility
While mobility—the ability to move freely and easily—is essential for every human, it’s paramount for runners.
Focusing on improving mobility allows your body to perform the full range of movement in all areas of the body. If you skip this, it can ultimately lead to injury.
To minimize the chance of hurting yourself and cutting your 5K time, Parker recommends every runner do 20-30 minutes of mobility work once or twice a week. Some mobility exercises you can practice are:
- Squat to stand
- Knee pulls
- Runner’s lunge
- Walking butt kick
By incorporating this crucial mobility piece of the 5K time puzzle, you’re sure to increase your speed and reach a new personal best.
Give Each Leg Some Love
Another element you want to focus on when aiming to cut time off your 5K is training each leg separately, according to Norton.
He recommends unilateral exercises such as a single leg glute bridge or single leg burpee to improve your explosive strength. These exercises also help increase your hip mobility and reduce spinal compression - it's a win-win-win!
By the time your 5K event approaches, you’ll have prepped each leg separately to proudly carry you across that finish line quicker than ever before.
Fit Factory health clubs have plenty of areas where you can dedicate time to practicing these useful exercises. You can visit a club near you to scope it out and talk to one of our certified personal trainers about your running goals.
Consume Enough Protein
While being intentional with your nutrition is key when prepping to run a 5K, Parker says making sure you consume enough protein is critical.
Protein simply helps muscles recover, repair, and build muscle mass, improving your time.
According to the National Academy of Medicine, adults should intake at least 7 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight. However, runners need more than this to help aid recovery and keep those muscles intact.
The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends runners aim for between 1.4 to 1.7 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds per day. So, for example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you’d need around 90 to 120 grams per day.
To reach this range, consider consuming protein from a wide variety of sources. Lean meat, eggs, tempeh, tofu, lentils, and peanut butter are excellent foods with high protein. You can also add protein and collagen powder to a shake for a quick high-protein fix.
See You at the Finish Line
If you’ve been trying and trying to no avail to cut time off your 5K, not all hope is lost.
Start incorporating these five tips into your training, and you just might finish the race with a shorter time and a big ol’ smile on your face. And if you’re looking for support or guidance along your epic journey, book a free consultation with a Fit Factory trainer and see how we can help.
Have fun, train hard, and we’ll see you at the finish line!