Sub-20:00 5K: Planning Phasefeatured

Sub-20:00 5K: Planning Phase {the ponytail diaries}

Remember back in December, when I said I wanted to run a sub-20 minute 5K this year?

And then I ran a marathon and got sick of hard-core training and have spent the last few months just running for fun and taking it easy?

Well…maybe that should change if I want to make good on at least one goal in 2015.

I still need to find a few 5Ks this summer and fall that would be good candidates (flat, speedy courses aimed at more competitive runners — i.e. not fun runs where most of the participants wear costumes). Any suggestions, San Diego runners?

I did run a 5K back at the beginning of April in 22:43 (3.11 miles by my Garmin) — 7:19 pace. I need to bring that mile pace down to 6:26. Which will hurt. A lot.

Honestly, I’m not even sure I could run one 6:26 mile on the track right now. Maybe.

(Maybe I should find a track and just try it, to get a sense of how much it’ll hurt?)

Anyway, I’m going to start throwing in speedwork and some actual “training” runs into the mix over the next month or so. I’ll try to find a 5K in mid-July or so to see where I’m at. If I manage to break 20 minutes then, yippee! If not, I’ll take it easy for a week and then start the cycle over, amping up my workouts a bit, and find another race sometime in September or so.

And so on, until the end of the year (or beyond, if needed).

I’m not going to following a specific, prescribed training plan this time. I’m not even going to make up a complete plan myself. Instead, I’ve come up with a set of “guidelines” I’ll try to follow week to week:

Speedwork – Intervals/Track Workouts

I know I *should* go to a track for as many of these as I can. But my gym is so much closer than any track that’s open to the public (that I know of, at least), so I’ll probably be doing a lot of these on the treadmill.

Anyway, one speed session a week, typically of repeats ranging from 200 meters to one mile. Mostly 400s, though. And ladders, where you might run 200-400-800-1200-1600-1200-800-400-200. I also like running a 200, quick break, 400, slightly longer break, 200, etc. My pace on the 400s will probably start at 90 seconds each (6 minute mile) and creep down towards 80 seconds (what I used to be able to hit in high school, when I could run sub-6:00 miles).

The total speedwork mileage in each session should work out to be 1.5 – 3 miles or so. I think.

Hills & Tempo Runs

Oh tempo runs, my nemesis. I need to do these on a treadmill for now so I can set a pace and just go (and also, it’s tough to find long, flat stretches of road where I don’t run into stoplights and such). I’m not sure if I’ll do these by time or distance, but I guess they’ll always include a half-mile to a mile warm-up and cool-down with anything from 1.5 – 3 miles in the middle. The pace would be around 6:30 – 7:00-mile.

I’ll probably alternate tempo runs and hill workouts each week. Hill workouts will either be lots of repeats up an incline ranging from 100 meters to a quarter mile or so, or one long climb of at least 3 miles.

Is it weird that I would rather run hills than tempo runs, by the way?

Long Runs

The great thing about 5K long runs is they can top out at 10 miles or so!

These will be on trails as much as possible, because I love trail running, I want to find/check out/explore new trails around the county, and I want to ease up on the pounding on my legs (I’m pretty sure excessive running on asphalt or concrete gives me shin splints-like flare-ups, which almost never happen when I run more miles on dirt).

Core Work & Strength Training

I’ve been getting way better about doing core work somewhat consistently, guys! It still kinda sucks but I’m always checking YouTube for decent ab workouts (I like most of the Tone It Up videos, Cassie’s hyper pep annoys the crap out of me but damn if Blogilates workouts aren’t effective, Cindy Whitmarsh videos are pretty good, and I try not to drive myself crazy looking for every possible workout out there, but if there are any you love, let me know!).

I’m not forcing myself to really follow any lifting routines, but I’ve been adding more bodyweight (and dumbbell) exercises into my daily workouts (squats, lunges, push-ups, and the like) and will continue with those.


Obviously. I’ve been trying to stick to two studio classes a week and YouTube videos/podcasts every other day.

HIIT Workouts

This is what I’m really dreading. I like to think I’m reasonably fit and in decent cardiovascular shape…but make me jump for more than 10 seconds, like lots of HIIT workouts do, and I want. to. die. Jump squats and lunge jumps (where you’re in a lunge and jump and switch position of your legs and land back in a deep lunge) are the worst. ever.

But I figure that explosive power those types of exercises generate has to be good for strength and speed, right? So…HIIT workouts, once, maybe twice a week on easy run days.

So that’s how I’ll be spending a good chunk of my summer.

photo via picjumbo // cc // modified in photoshop


  • So you like blogilates? I need to get better about doing them more often.

    • I go back and forth where I’ll do her workouts a lot and then get really sick of her “OMIGOD GUYS THIS IS THE BEST WORKOUT EVER” schtick. But it’s way easier for me to follow along with a video than a printable workout.

      • I am the same way. I love the videos but her demeanor while working out doesn’t help me at all. Lol…