How to Improve Your 5km PB

Hill sprints are an effective way to improve your 5km Personal Best.

The 5km race is an event for any type of runner, from beginners seeking out a new challenge to professionals hoping to improve their PB. It is a race which not only involves speed but tactics at the same time, you need to know when to speed up at parts or reserve energy, which is the most crucial stage of a 5km.

The best way to train for a 5km is to do intensive workouts (IW). Intensive workouts are all about pushing you to the limit, resting then pushing yourself again. By doing this your body is getting used to being at these high percentage training levels and can apply them whenever necessary.

There are two techniques I use which are really simple methods and can be used by anyone, and are still vastly effective. One is the ‘Lamp Post Technique’ and the other is ‘Hill Runs’. These two methods can be used for just fitness purposes or as really high intensity workouts.

The ‘Lamp Post Technique’ isn’t the most accurate distance wise as it involves street lamps, but it means it can be done anywhere and everywhere. You start off, preferably on a long street, jog from one lamp post to the next then sprint (but not at maximum efficiency as you will only cause tiredness and muscle fatigue at the start) to the next. Then repeat this process from the next lamp post onwards. If you start to feel really tired, once the sprint is done, walk to the next lamp post to gain some more energy back and gain more recovery time. If you do not have a long street, then simply just keep going between two lampposts, it is the same method and process involved.

Do this for at least a good 10-15 minutes. For more experienced and competent runners I would suggest a solid half hour. This training enables your body to call upon high energy levels at any point, and you’ll be surprised when you can. This exercise is not for the faint hearted. It involves a lot of effort and will to keep going, but done over a 4 week period, you will notice the improvements to even your normal jog runs, you will be quicker and be able to go faster for longer.

‘Hill Runs’ are an absolute killer. For me, they are possibly the hardest exercise you can do. For this, you should find quite a steeply inclined hill, with preferably a circular route round back down the bottom. Parks are often good places for this. Start at the top of the hill and run round to the bottom at an easy pace, I stress the easy part as this is basically your recovery time. Once you get to the bottom of the hill, sprint up the hill, back as straight as you can and try to keep the knees up as well, then once the top has been reached jog slowly back round and continue the reps. If you do not have a circular route to go by, then once you have sprinted up the hill, take a slow walk back down to the bottom and repeat the process.

Hill sprints are an effective way to improve your 5km Personal Best.
Hill sprints are an effective way to improve your 5km Personal Best.

This should be done for a good 10-15 minutes as well, and for more competent runners 20-25 minutes. This is essentially the same process as the ‘Lamp Post’ but involves pushing harder with added resistance of the incline. For me this method is very effective and I do this 5 times a week for 25 minutes each time. This can also coincide with your usual jog as hills are readily available and jogging is a great way to warm yourself up and cool down after wards.

Both these high intensity workouts are great ways to improve leg strength and overall running pace. But they have to be planned out in a well-rehearsed training programme otherwise you will just cause injury and harm to yourself. These workouts as well do not need to be done over a long time period, they can be started 6 weeks before the event and if done correctly this is all you’ll need to do to see improvements in your time. Last year before I started this program my PB for the 5km was 16.45, then after a solid 6 month program of these training methods I slashed my time vastly down to 14.56.

I hope this information helps with your training and helps you work towards setting a new personal best!

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