Tired of runners giving you excuses and disclaimers about why they've missed their target time or haven't broken a PB? Stop reading now.
I recently ran the Standard Chartered Great City Race. This 5K race was supposed to be my practice event, to give me a good indication of how I'll fare when I do the running leg of Team TW's relay triathlon in Hyde Park (in two weeks' time). But on completion, fighting the urge to be sick, absolutely spent and looking as white as a sheet, I was a full 2 minutes off my target time of 20 minutes. I actually came in at 22:05 and had even managed a sprint finish.
Admittedly, there were a number of reasons why I did so badly. Firstly, I hadn't taken on nearly enough water and after 5 minutes of running my mouth was drier than a camel's arse. I'd also, rather foolishly, necked two, untested carbo-gels prior to the race. This, coupled with the high numbers of runners, led to a very slow start indeed. I failed to spot the distance markers and by the time I'd realised how far off the pace I actually was it was too late (sprint or no).
Lessons learnt, I'm still very disappointed and now very sceptical about hitting a sub-20 minute 5K. Although I've had some pretty quick training times, I think I've been a little naïve about the level of work required to hit my goal.
Nevertheless, I've got a job to do and my relay team relying on me [hums Rocky theme tune]. I've enlisted the help of our pals over at Men's Health who, for the past few weeks, have been helping me with some strength training exercises, designed to increase speed and efficiency. Try these exercises if you're after a bit of pace:
Lying on the floor, place both heels on a Swiss ball. Keep your shoulders on the floor and lift your body. Draw your legs towards your backside, rolling the ball towards you. Do 3x15 reps.
Useful for developing hip flexor strength. Start lunging out in a clockwise direction, making each lunge ‘5 minutes’ clock space from its predecessor, and returning to the centre each time. Aim for 3x12 reps on each leg.
Holding a bar across your shoulders, raise one leg in front of you. Now lower down to not quite a full squat, then rise up slowly. Do 10 reps. On the 10th, hold for 10 seconds.
My favourite quote from that article is this:
"Finnish researchers found that explosive strength training shaved 30 seconds off 5K times."
Just another full minute and a half to go then (yeah right)!