Up until now i've focused on longer distances - half marathons and the occasional marathon. For the last 12 months however I've not run that much, but have retained a fair amount of fitness. I've now entered a 5k this summer. Any tips as to how best to train for it? (Whilst a beginner at 5k, I'm not a running beginner)
Depending on your seriousness for racing the 5k, your mileage for 5k's can be lower - long runs don't need to be much more than 10 or 11 miles and can only be about 20% of your weekly mileage - compared to the marathon long run of about 25-30%.
Paces will, obviously, have to change. As will your training priorities. 5k races are primarily determined by your VO2 max - your maximum oxygen uptake, so this should be your main focus for training. Any pace at or above 5k pace will work your VO2 max. Repeats of 3 - 5 minutes are generally good lenghts for interval training - start off by trying something like 3 * 1k @ 5k effort with 90 second jog recoveries. Over time, build these up to 5 * 1 @ 5k effort. Additionally you can do these at 3k effort - 6 * 800m @ 3k effort with 90 second jog recoveries. I would emphisize more on the 5k intervals than the 3k ones, but 3k are also good in moderation.
Lactic Threshold is another big determinant. I'm sure you know about this - either tempo intervals of 1 or 2 miles or continuous (but slower) runs. For some faster LT work - try 10k effort for a few mile intervals.
Notice I'm referring to paces by effort - it's important not to run at aspirational paces for a few reasons. Firstly, you cannot run at your aspirational pace before you're comfortable at your current pace - it's like ascending stairs 2 at a time - it's easier to "lose your balance" so to speak. Also, why work to a time target? You may be limiting your potential. You might say "I'm going for a 20-minute 5k", and when you're running intervals at that pace you back off. If you run them at effort, then you will keep improving past that 20-minute barrier you've given yourself. You don't know what you're capable of.
Don't forget your basic endurance! It's a must for events like this. Gradually build up your milage before you start training - just easy miles at conversational pace, to develop aerobic conditioning.
Additionally, don't forget that weekly mileage is an outcome of hard mileage, not the other way around. You shouldn't be doing more than about 15% of your weekly mileage at high intensity. Get the key sessions in, then build the easy runs in around that.
A lot of stuff in here. Sorry for blabbing on - I'm in a revision break!
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