This workout will help you run a faster 5K

A training plan that involves only running can carry you through a 5K – but for a strong, speedy performance, you need to build springiness, or what experts call ‘reactive strength’.

‘When your foot hits the ground, the more elastic or reactive you are, the better you’re able to spring off without losing any energy,’ says strength and conditioning coach Kris Beattie. In a study, he put runners through a 40-week programme incorporating reactive-strength exercises. The result? Increased running economy, or the ability to use oxygen efficiently (and therefore run faster).

Related: How to run your perfect 5K 

Reactive-strength training also protects against injury, but requires ongoing maintenance – the study’s control group, which did run training only, lost reactive strength over the
same period of time. Fortunately, you
don’t need a complex programme of skips and bounds. Rather, says Beattie, runners benefit most from two simple moves that progress over time, combined with strengthening and stabilising exercises.

Do this routine twice a week during your 5K training, preferably on the same day as a hard workout or long run.

1/ BUILD SPRINGINESS

Adjust these moves every few weeks to become bouncier.

Pogo jumps

Weeks 1-3: With feet hip-width apart, jump at about 70 per cent of your maximum effort. Land quietly on straight legs, freeze a moment, then jump again. Do three sets of eight jumps.

Weeks 4-6: Repeat, but lean forward to travel a few feet with each jump.

Weeks 7-9: Stationary jumps again, but do them quickly and jump as high as you can. Do three sets of three.

Weeks 8-12: Take your jumps slightly forward, jumping as high and as fast as you can. Do three sets of five.

Single leg hops

Weeks 1-3: Stand on your right leg and hop up. Land quietly, leg straight, and repeat. Do three sets of eight per leg.

Weeks 4-6: Repeat, but lean forward to travel a few feet with each hop.

Weeks 7-9: Stationary hops again, but do them quickly and jump as high as you can. Do three sets of three per leg.

Weeks 8-12: Take your hops slightly forward, jumping as high and as fast as
you can. Do three sets of five per leg.

Recover for two to three minutes between sets of hops and jumps; you’ll be feeling them in your calves.

2/ BUILD STRENGTH

Do these four moves three times, after jumping and hopping as a continuous circuit.

Bridges

Lie on your back with feet hip-width apart. Press into your heels and lift your hips until your knees are bent 45 degrees. Hold for 20 seconds in week one; add five seconds each week. Once you reach 45 seconds, drop to 30 and do single leg bridges, resting your hands on your hips to ensure that they stay level.

Planks

Rise up on your elbows and toes with your feet apart. Keep your core tight and your shoulders above your elbows. Hold for 20 seconds in week one; add five seconds each week. Once you reach 45 seconds, drop to 20 and alternate lifting your left arm and right leg, then your right arm and left leg, for a few seconds each.

Side planks

Rise up on your left elbow with your legs straight, core tight and right arm up. Hold for 20 seconds in week one; add five seconds each week. Repeat on the right. Once you reach 45 seconds, drop to 20 and lift and lower your top leg as you hold.

Split squats

Step your left foot directly forward. Lower, then push through your left heel to rise (without bringing your feet back together as you would in a lunch). Do 12 reps, then repeat on the opposite leg. In weeks seven to 12, progress to a reverse lunge.