Following on from the Northampton half marathon, and two weeks of relatively easy running, it’s time to get back into training. With no further races planned this year though, I find it difficult to run well without a particular goal in mind. Given that I will be returning to university in a couple of weeks to complete the final block of my undergraduate degree, I wanted a goal that wasn’t too demanding in terms of time. Certainly no marathons, but also half marathons are really out of the question. So what I’ve decided, is to spend the next few months working on my short distance speed, 5km and 10km.

With the return to studying, Saturday’s pretty much become a write-off as this is when I lock myself away to get my work done, unless I need to take a break. This means parkruns are out of the question really, particularly if I want to make it a regular thing. With that in mind, I have devised my own 5km course around Rugby, which starts and finishes around a mile from home, allowing for ample warm up and cool down both before and after the effort. The plan is to test my 5k time every six weeks, following a section of training designed to help improve my speed over short distances.

Given recent parkrun results, I seem to be currently running at around the 22 minute mark. Ideally, I want to get this down below 20 minutes, but I appreciate that this will take far longer than six weeks. I am intrigued though, to find out exactly how quick I can turn a 22 into a 20. That is my ultimate goal. I want to go sub-20 for a 5k, followed by sub-40 for a 10k and then sub-1:30 for a half marathon which could, in all honesty, take years.

First things first though, I am aiming for a sub-20 within six months, although I am aware that I usually get itchy for a Spring half marathon around early February time. If I can remain disciplined, and continue with the specific training, I am hopeful that I can get there.

Despite recent results, I wanted to kick off the start of training with a benchmark 5k on the course that I have devised. I did that today, and finished in 22:06. The course was considerably hillier than I expected it to be and, with the biggest hill coming in the final 500m, I was struggling to push through to the finish. That’s fine though. Providing I stick to the same route, it doesn’t matter how hilly it is as I will be comparing like-for-like when it comes round to each test.

So, given the available time that I have, particularly over the coming weeks and months, I aim to do three runs per week. This will include one long, easy run of no more than 6-7 miles, one threshold run and one interval run. That’s all that is really required in my opinion. Miles are good, but when you’re trying to sharpen up on speed, i don’t really believe many more runs will be all that beneficial. Of course, during this time there will be weekly club runs, so I will fit my schedule in around whatever is planned each week.

Three runs then, each of a different type, and I will test my 5k time on the same course every six weeks, the next time being October 27.

If you’re interested in seeing what my provisional training plan looks like, take a look at my calendar. This is a plan that I have devised myself, although it does derive from research into available 5k plans online and sites such as the 5krunner and RunningFastr, who give their recommendations on what it takes to go sub-20.

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