Tuesday, August 14, 2012

All you never wanted to know about 5K training

I'm really and truly ashamed to admit this, but I am just the tiniest bit glad to return to work since it will divert my attention away from how much I miss the newest member of my family.

Photo: One million dollars
My sister already taught him to pose like Dr. Evil
Random totally unplanned segue - hey, speaking of new members of the family, 5 years ago today we welcomed in another one! Happy Anniversary to my mom and stepdad! 

We're all so young and innocent here...
A few people have asked (I swear, I get questions) to know about my 5K coaching, so I thought I'd explain a little more about the program. It's really designed for those completely and totally new to running. A few people have done one 5K previously, but for the most part everyone has a clean slate. 

I loosely based the plan on the couch to 5K program, and tweaked it once I met the group and we did our first couple workouts together. Everyone started with a one minute run/4 minute walk ratio, and later in the week we did a half mile time trial (so they can see how much faster they get). We started with 25 minutes for our long walk/run, and we'll work our way up to 50 minutes before the race (September 8).

I email the week's workouts (5 in all) to the members each Sunday. They do 3 on their own, and we do two "together", Thursday nights and Sunday mornings. The ones we do together are pretty spread out, because now everyone is doing different lengths for their walk/run intervals, and going at different paces. After we all stretch and walk for five minutes to warm up, everyone kind of does their own thing, and I run around and periodically check in with each person. I usually start out with those doing more walking, so it ends up including some sprints for me as I try to make my way up to the front runner.

One thing I've noticed about newer runners that is that they equate running with "sprinting for your life as fast as you possibly can". Based on that, people are usually shocked when I say I ran something like 10 miles. I agree, sprinting for 10 miles would be pretty impressive, and for me, impossible. So one thing I try to do is engage each of them in conversation while they are running, to get them used to a sustainable pace. Everyone in the group is really cool, and I'm really having fun getting to know them all.

I schedule my own training around these workouts, and so far using Thursdays and Sundays as my rest days has worked out pretty well. Maybe you could get in some of your long run training a marathon or half marathon group, but for 5K coaching it works better to keep them separate. 

As far as my own training goes, this week I've been slowly readjusting to early runs before work (work starts a little later without the kids, so I'm able to ease into it). Monday my training plan called for 7-9 miles with 2X2 miles at HMP (half marathon pace, which I decided was going to be 8:30). I tried to go to a local high school and use their track, but apparently I got the high school and middle school confused and there was no track. Somehow this ended up with me doing my first 2 miles up the biggest hill in my neighborhood and they were at an 8:41 pace. Fail. The second two I did on relatively flat ground and managed 7:57 and 7:50 for them. Obviously pacing is something I need to work on. I did 8 miles total, and then 7 easy miles Tuesday morning. 

How long after you started running did you enter your first race? What distance was it?


  1. Eric's pimp suit is awesome.

    I entered a half first, then midway through training decided I should probably run a shorter race first, so I did a 5k. I'd been running for real for like 2 or 3 months...but I'd run before, just sporadically, like for soccer practice or in the off season for other sports. I do remember when 2mi felt SO freaking far. Who knew, right?

    Also, I think you could totally break 1:45 for a half. Just sayin.

    1. I agree about the pimp suit. I was going to mention that as well, but couldn't find the right word. :)

  2. I think a 5K group would be fun but I'd probably be terrible at trying to coach people. The running between all the people is sometimes hard too, I do the same thing with the dog running people! My first race was a 5K and I became a little hooked!

  3. This conjured up images of my first 5K where my preparation was little to nothing and I literally thought Allan was trying to kill me during the race. Perhaps some training would have been a good first step!

  4. I recently realized I've never actually done an official 5k! (or, at least not that I remember!) And I think I started running in earnest BECAUSE i had registered for a race :)

  5. I started training with Alyssa for this 5K because she is awesome and inspires me everyday (and because I give her pee breaks at work since I teach across the hall from her). I have been a slothly couch potato for something like 15 years and gained about 40+ pounds in the process so this is all very new to me! I haven't quite worked up to running yet and Alyssa has been wonderful encouraging me along the way. If you want to follow my journey I started my own blog- www.runin2it.blogspot.com I can always use more cheerleaders!

  6. my first race.... was a marathon...

    Ok, not entirely true. I sort of did a 4 mile race on a whim right out of college (and still in super-insane-baller shape) and then limped through a half marathon on very little training that fall. But my first race where I actually had to train and not rely completely on my swimming fitness and aerobic capacity was the marathon.

  7. I entered my first 5K after no training other than occasional treadmill runs (nothing beyond 3 miles) and ran in 22 minutes. Ah, to be 20 again.

    Our running club is trying to start a similar 5K program, so we may just copy your training plan. :)

  8. The training sounds fun. I wish I had done a program when I first started running. I'm just now really getting a groove on pacing myself. I am super good at starting out way too fast. Apparently my brain wishes it could sprint a half marathon.

  9. You really are like their running teacher. I never really thought about it like that, but you're right, when you tell non-runners you run, that's usually what they assume.

    Every time you post your workouts, I consider unfollowing/unfriending you where ever I see them. I've reached the level of full crazy over here.


Thanks for commenting! Comments make me probably more happy than they should.