How To Run A Faster 5km

By Katherine Parker

With 298 events taking place every Saturday morning all over Australia, many of us are making our local park run a weekly ritual.

Initially you may find that achieving new PBs occurs easily and frequently, but as you get fitter these improvements will become smaller and harder to achieve. Chasing that extra second can become quite a challenge. So in order to keep improving your 5km time, here are some tips to consider incorporating into your training.

Interval Training
If you constantly run at the same pace, your body will adapt, becoming more efficient and thus needing to do less work at that given pace. But if you never practise running faster, you’re not going to get faster. Intervals consist of harder and faster efforts ranging from 15 seconds to 5 minutes, followed by adequate recovery. Incorporating intervals into your training is a great way to challenge your body, improve your endurance and anaerobic capacity, thus increasing your speed over longer distances. An example of an interval session is 10 x 60 second efforts with at least 60 seconds recovery jog or walk between each effort. The efforts should be run slightly quicker than your goal park run pace. Intervals (efforts) totalling a time of as little as 10 minutes can assist in improving endurance performance, making it a great session if you are pressed for time or when motivation is low.

Tip: Keep an eye out for Intervals and the Sunrise Forts Run on the Top Coach timetable.

Strength Training
Not only does strength training decrease a runner’s risk of injury but it can also improve running performance. A recent study looking at the effects of strength training on 5km time-trial performance found that a 6-week resistance training program combined with endurance training, significantly improved times. The strength training group ran an average of 45 seconds fasterthan the baseline group who participated in endurance training only. This improvement is huge! The participants in this study were all moderately trained recreational runners, like many of you reading this. Incorporating 4 sets of 4-6 reps of heavy deadlifts, calf raises, squats and lunges twice a week into your routine will assist in improving your running performance.

Tip: Partake in the Weight Sessions at Top Coach

To receive the maximum benefits from training, we must make sure we give ourselves adequate time to recover. Stress + rest = growth. We all sometimes fall into the trap of thinking more is better, but a lack of recovery can negatively impact our performance and can increase our risk of injury. Break up your hard training days with some lighter days, and listen to your body when it tells you to rest. If you have an upcoming competition or want to beat your park run PB, taper your training for the week leading into it. PBs aren’t often run at the end of a week of hard training!

Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of sleep! It is the foundation for our recovery. The amount of sleep recommended for healthy adults is 7 to 9 hours per night, but in order to reach their full potential, athletes need 9 to 10 hours of total sleep.

Park Run
Our local park run starts in front of the Fingal Beach Surf Life Saving Club at 8am every Saturday morning. The course is 5km and you can walk or run at your own pace. Park run participation and registration is free. Sign up using the link below and bring your barcode along.

Tip: Join the Top Coach Park Run group on face book. This group is about building a community who encourage and support each other by participating together in their weekly park run. On the last park run of each month we catch up for coffee/breakfast at Longboat Cafe.


  1. Karsten B, et al. The Effects of Sport-Specific Maximal Strength and Conditioning Training on Critical Velocity, Anaerobic Running Distance, and 5-km Race Performance.
  2. Bonnar D, et al. Sleep Interventions Designed to Improve Athletic Performance and Recovery: A Systematic Review of Current Approaches.