What's a decent target time for 5K?

7 messages
27/04/2013 at 13:46

I started running weekly 5Ks at my local Parkrun at the end of last year. After struggling around in 27 minutes on week one I've been running most weeks and am now down to 23m30.

As a man in my mid-30s who probably averages one more run on top of Parkrun during a good week, what's a sensible target time? Is it realistic that I could ever run below 20 minutes?

27/04/2013 at 14:33

I've only done 2 parkruns and I've just done one in 24:56, my quickest 5k yet. I reckon if I was fresh (I did a knackering 5 mile tempo run on thursday and the legs were not all the way back by this morning, also was on the brandy last night....), and conditions were good I could crack sub (just) 24 minutes at my current level of fitness, so we're probably not miles away from each other (i'm also mid-30s).

My aim is to get sub 22 minutes this year, which I'm not sure I will be able to do - but I am running 3 times a week with a cross training day in there as well.

So I suppose the question is, how much do you want to go below 20 minutes? I suspect that to get there you will need to be doing more than your one extra run a week, because you will need to do some speed work and some longer distance as well to improve your endurance.

If you can commit more time and follow a good program and stay injury free, are at a good running weight and have everything go for you, sub-20 is definitely possible. That list doesn't sound easy though! Good luck!

27/04/2013 at 21:10

Nath, if you're only running twice a week max runs, you haven't even started training.

do a couple more runs a week as slow as you like, and even from that for a month or 2 you'll improve no end.

28/04/2013 at 18:12

If you're are running similar times week in week out, all around 23:30, surely that tells you that without any extra training that is pretty much all you can expect of your legs? Once a week go and run a speed session. It doesn't have to be long - it's quality, not quantity that matters - 30mins plus a warm up/cool down will suffice.

Jog for 5 mins to warm up and then do 6 x [3 minutes run; 1 minute rest] and jog home to cool down. Run your repeats at a pace that is slightly slower than your current 5K pace, probably closer to 7:50min/mile. It will feel slow and you will be tempted to go faster, but the trick with training your lactate threshold levels is to not go too fast. If in doubt measure a half mile route (your street, a loop of the park or whatever) on mapmyrun.com and aim to run that in just under 4 minutes and then rest for a minute.

Do this religiously for 4 weeks, early in the week, maybe Monday or Tuesday, and do an easy paced run later in the week, again just 30-40 minutes would be fine. That should give you a taste of what it's like to do more focused training and should help you knock some chunks off your PB...

I ran 24-25 min 5Ks week in week out until I started doing my speed training every week, religiously and properly. Now I'm consistently under 23 on a hilly parkrun and getting faster... Good luck!

29/04/2013 at 23:11

Thanks guys. I am seeing improvement - 27 minutes in week one (hadn't run in a long time!), down to 25 mins in January and now consistently under 24 mins - but obviously progress is slow as I'm not running very often. Work and kids make it difficult to find time!

Will pick it up to three runs a week from next week and see how that goes...

30/04/2013 at 12:52
Stevie G . wrote (see)

Nath, if you're only running twice a week max runs, you haven't even started training.

do a couple more runs a week as slow as you like, and even from that for a month or 2 you'll improve no end.


02/05/2013 at 15:24

I've got a 4km at the end of June. I've just done 2 marathons in 5 weeks so speed work is absolutely new to me, I've go no idea what to do. How would I structure a week of 4 runs, thanks 

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