Starting a New 5k Training Block

At this point, it’s been just about two weeks since I ran my half marathon time trial. I’ve taken it easy the last two weeks to recover, and I’m looking forward to starting a new training block.

Long term, my goal is to run a marathon next fall and a half marathon late next spring. I’ll be doing some high mileage and slower workouts next year, so I figured this winter would be a good time to work on speed and shorter distances.

I’m going to focus on my 5k time and do a time trial in January to set a new PR.

My 5k Goals for the Winter

At the end of the summer, I ran a 5k time trial to set a baseline for myself. I finished in 24:37.

I’d really only done some base building work up until that point, so I’m sure with some speedwork I can make some decent improvements.

I’m setting a three tiered goal for myself:

  • 23:xx. This is an easy goal, and I have no doubt I’ll be able to do this.
  • 22:xx. This is a bit of a stretch, but I think it’s well within my reach after two months of training.
  • 21:xx. This is a true stretch goal, and I’ll have a better sense of how possible this is after a couple weeks of training. I think the higher end is possible, but closer to 21:00 could be tough.

Tomorrow morning, I’m going to run a mile time trial. I’m going to use that to set my training paces. Halfway through, I’ll probably run another mile time trial or a two mile time trial to see if I need to update those paces.

Phase I – Speedwork and Intervals

My approach to this training block is influenced by Jack Daniels’ Running Formula. If you’re not familiar with the book at all, you can read more about it here.

I won’t be running high enough mileage to actually use one of his 5k plans from the book. I’ll probably run around 30mpw. But my plan is to use the principles from his training plans to set up my training block.

This means that the first phase of the training will focus on speedwork and later on I’ll incorporate some intervals. I’ll be running 5 days a week, and I plan on having two workouts per week plus an easy long run.

The speedwork is what Jack Daniels refers to as R or repetition pace – short intervals at about mile pace. I’ll be running at the reserver loop near my house, not a track, and there are markers every 1/10 of a mile – approximately 160m. So my workouts will be a mix of 320m (2/10mi) and 480m (3/10mi) intervals with an equal distance of recovery jogging.

For example, week one will be:

  • Tuesday: 5 miles, easy trail running with hills
  • Wednesday: 5-6 miles, 5x320m repetitions
  • Thursday: 4-5 miles easy, recovery
  • Saturday: 5-6 miles, 5x320m repetitions
  • Sunday: 10 miles, easy long run

In the second week, I’ll make one of those workouts 480m repetitions instead of 320m. In the third week, I’m going to replace one of those R workouts with longer intervals, which I’ll be doing more of in the second phase.

After three weeks, I’ll do an easy recovery week with slightly reduced mileage and without the two workouts. I’ll probably do a time trial that Saturday to see how I’m coming along.

Phase II – Intervals and Tempo

In phase II, as per Jack Daniels approach, I’ll focus more on longer intervals (what he calls I pace) and tempo pace (T).

In the first week, I’ll do an R workout and an I workout. After that, I’ll do an I workout and a T workout each week. I’ll still keep the Sunday long run easy.

I’ll use Jack Daniels VDOT Running Calculator to approximate my paces. The I pace will be slightly faster than 5k pace, and the T pace will be a little slower than 10k pace.

For example, the second week of this phase will be:

  • Tuesday: 5 miles, easy trail running with hills
  • Wednesday: 7-8 miles, 4x800m intervals
  • Thursday: 5 miles easy, recovery
  • Saturday: 5-6 miles, 20 min T
  • Sunday: 10 miles, easy long run

Phase III – Time Trial

After three weeks in Phase II, I’ll transition into the race phase.

I’m still not entirely sure how I want to handle the last couple of weeks, and I may wait to see how my body feels after six weeks of hard running.

I don’t plan on taking a full recovery week or a taper before the 5k, but I want to pull back a little bit in the days leading up to it. Ideally, I’d have an extra week or two here before the time trial to reap the full benefits of the training.

But the longer I wait to finish this, the less time I’ll have for the half marathon training. And that’s my more important goal for next year. I may miss out a bit in terms of this 5k time trial, but the speed results will still be there regardless when I transition to the longer distances.

In the first week of Phase III, I’ll stick with the same I and T workouts. But I’ll back off the I pace a little, so that it’s right at my target 5k pace. I’ll also lower the mileage a bit over the course of the week from 32 to 25.

The second week, I’ll have to decide what kind of workout I want to do on Wednesday. But I’ll be doing the time trial that Saturday. Again, I’ll reduce my mileage slightly.

Recovery and Moving On

At that point, I’ll have a shiny new PR at the 5k distance. This will also give me a better idea of what pace I can target in the half marathon that I plan on running in April or May.

After the race, I’ll take two or three weeks of easy running to recover. I’m going to have to figure out where I want my mileage to be for the half marathon training block, but I may also use these weeks to build up my mileage a bit. I’ll probably end up between 35 and 40 mpw.

By the beginning of February, I’ll be ready to pick a half marathon race. Once that’s on my calendar, I can firm up the details for that training block.

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