GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH GOAL RACE PACE
Once you’ve done a week (or two for beginners) of hills, then you want to start running at your 5k goal pace. These workouts get your body used to the pace you are going to run. Pace management is important in racing, and these workouts will teach you not to go out too fast.
Start with eight 400 m repeats at your 5k goal pace, with 90 seconds to two minutes of recovery ( beginners, take the longer rest). Pro tip: if you’ve never run on a track before, give it a try with this workout. One loop of the track is 400 m, so you won’t even need a gps watch.
If you are doing the advanced plan you can go straight to 12x 400 m. Go to the track and do these so you can keep track of your pace per lap, and have a benchmark for the workouts to come.
The next step is to extend to 12x 400 m. For the beginners, this is going to be your peak workout: almost 5k worth of intervals at the pace you plan to race 5k. This peak workout is about 10 days before your race, so your body has time to recover and process the benefits of the training. For the intermediate and advanced groups, you still have a couple of weeks to go.
Then, you’ll grow the workout distance to 5– 6x800 m at your goal pace. Keep in mind that, for obvious reasons, 800s are harder than 400s. The longer interval gets you closer to feeling like you will in the race. In addition, running at this effort level will improve your overall fitness, and your running economy at your goal pace. The advanced group has one more workout that gets them up to 4– 6x1k at goal 5k pace. This last one could be done on the road if you wanted to get used to the feel of running a road race.