5K Training Schedule – How To Use Interval Training To Boost Fitness Levels
An effective 5k training schedule should always include training techniques which help to boost fitness and endurance levels way faster than simply pounding the streets using a steady and constant pace.
One of the best ways to do this is by using interval training.
Interval training is the use of small segments of higher and lower intensity effort throughout the duration of a workout. It is a great way of pushing your body further than using steady state training (one constant level of intensity) whilst using short periods of active rest to recover.
The wonderful thing about using interval training is that you can choose your own length of time for rest and work periods, however it’s important to understand that for interval training to be effective, it must be planned out in advance, not chopped and changed as you run along.
Using interval training in your 5k training schedule allows you to increase your lung efficiency, your leg muscles lactate threshold and improve your recovery times during your runs.
This is perfect for any routes that contain hills, as interval training closely mirrors the level of effort and recovery needed when running uphill and then recovering downhill afterwards.
So how should you use interval training in your own running sessions?
Well this really depends on your current level of fitness, but for the purposes of explaining how it works we will take an active beginner and explain how this should work.
Here is our example runner – her name is Anne, she is 36 years old, she is a little overweight and only just recently started running. At the moment she runs 4 times a week and has built up to being able to run for up to 15 minutes without stopping.
My advice would be to…
- Cut out one session, so she only runs 3 times a week and replace this with a different aerobic activity such as swimming or cycling etc.
- Once a week she should try to increase the distances she can keep going for, building up over time to 5k distance.
- Once a week she should do a shorter but faster run and…
- Once a week she should be doing an interval training session. This session should be structured the following way…
5 minutes warm up, followed by 1 minute fast running, 1 minute moderate pace and then 1 minute slow recovery running or walking. The recovery minute should be at a pace that allows you to fully return to normal, so your breathing rate lowers and your legs feel ready to go again.
She will repeat this 10 times for a total of 30 minutes without rest, followed by a 5 minute cool down and then stretching.
In future sessions, she will increase the work intervals and reduce resting times as she feels able to.
You can customise your own interval workouts, but you should plan and record this before you begin. Also you need to ensure that you progress your own sessions accordingly.
Interval training should feel harder than normal running, but if used as part of a balanced 5k training schedule, will give you fitness and endurance improvements far faster than simply running at a steady constant pace.