Run a faster 5km

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the greatest long distance runner, back at school I was more into sprinting and struggled when it came to anything past 200 metres!However over the past 5 years i’ve managed to keep my 5km’s consistently under 21 minutes with a personal best of 20 Minutes 13 seconds achieved at the CrossFit British Championships back in 2015. Here’s a few tips and training techniques I have used on myself and with clients to help improve their 5km.

1) Increase your overall endurance

What I mean by this is to throw in some longer than 5km distances into your training. Build up to a decent 10km pace (which should be slower than your 5km pace). Think about throwing one of these in at least once a month.

2) Speed Interval Training

The benefits of speed interval training is that firstly it helps your body manage lactic acid more efficiently. Secondly it gets your body used to running faster so when you go to push it during your 5km you have the capacity to do so and ability to recover faster. Also it keeps your training more fun rather than risk boredom of constant longer runs. All you need to do is search popular running sites to find great interval workouts for all runner levels.

3) Flexibility

You’ll be amazed how much poor flexibility hampers runners. Benefits of a regular stretch routine, warmups and cooldowns include:

-Reduced risk of cramping

-Less joint strain

-Increased muscle length to help stride pattern and muscular endurance

4) Hydration

Surprised? Here’s evidence from a study (Source

“It’s certainly clear that being dehydrated can hurt your ability to run.

This was proved rather bluntly in a 1985 study by Lawrence Armstrong, David Costill, and William Fink. Using diuretic drugs, powerful agents which artificially induce dehydration by increasing urine production, the researchers examined the effects of dehydration on the performance of eight male runners over 1500m, 5000m, and 10,000m. Not surprisingly, the performance of the runners degraded significantly.

The results indicate that runners slowed nearly 80 seconds during a 5k and lost 2 minutes and 40 seconds over a 10k due to dehydration.”

5) Weight Training

Research from the University of Greenwich has shown the benefits of weight training when looking to improve running times. Here’s the full link to the paper (

The findings concluded that strength training 6 weeks prior to a time trial increased performance and then removing the strength training in turn decreased the performance.

In my words the benefits it can bring include increased muscular endurance, mass and strength. It aids your body’s ability to support its own weight better as well support and stabilise joints further.

6) Suitable nutrition

Fuelling your body for exercise is key for improving your 5km run. Using the calorie burner calculator, for me to run 5km at 88kg in 21 minutes would mean I would burn 456 calories. Ensuring I have sufficient calories in my body to fuel this is important. Most professional runners have their bodies trained in a state where they can run on minimal calories and top themselves up with sports gels but I wouldn’t recommend that unless advised by a nutritionist or medical professional. I’m not saying that if you run in the morning you need to have a mammoth breakfast however be aware of the amount of energy you expend when running so you can prepare, maintain and recover for your training runs or event.

7) Hill Training

Evil hills! However fantastic for building cardiobascular and muscular stamina. It also helps prepare you for events that are particular hilly so you’re able to adapt! Hill training also aids in increasing your speed. Man I hate hills!

Sources :

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