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Shaving six minutes off my 5k

Last weekend my wife and I ran a 5k over in Fort Myers, Florida. Going in to the race the goals were:

  1. break the 30 minute mark
  2. don't "run to upchuck"
  3. practice pacing and "intelligently" adjusting it

I'll go ahead and break down each of these goals.


Break the 30 minute mark

So back in November of 2021 I had hoped to have already accomplished this. But I was a dumb ass and pushed myself too hard the two weeks before the race and ended up injuring myself. Before the injury I could run a 28 minute 5k on the treadmill if I pushed it. This time around I wanted to finally break the 30 minute window and was completely expecting a 29 (or if lucky) or 28 minute race.

Don't "run to upchuck"

It was a holiday weekend away from the kids and I still wanted to enjoy it with my wife. With this in mind I wanted to avoid the need to vomit as much as possible.

Practice pacing and "intelligently" adjusting it

Had a loose idea to start at a slower comfortable pace and build to a steady pace after about half of a mile. If I felt like my pace was too quick or unsustainable for the remaining distance then I would back off a bit to conserve energy.

Results and reflection

Overall I hit all my goals pretty well. I did break the 30 minute window (26:27) and I did it rather comfortably. During the race I adjusted my pace when I found myself running too fast by the mile marker, then sped it back up around 2.75 miles. I probably should have increased my pace gradually from the 2 mile marker, or 2.5 mile marker, but I am happy with the result either way.

For me, I practiced some tapering the week of the race reducing my overall weekly mileage just shy of 50%. I also worked to accustomize my self with different paces so my body would know what they felt like. For example, on a normal "no run" day I did a 1 mile run at my VO2 max, and the next day I ran a 5k at a 10:30 pace. I ended the week with a very easy 5k run at about a 13:00 pace to just get some miles in but reduce any chance of injury.

The training plan

Cobbled this shit together from reading a bunch of blogs and video content on YouTube. It is good to note I tried to stick with this verbatim, but there are times when family, work, or life in general will present scheduling conflicts and we must all remain flexible. So if a modification needs to be made feel free to do so from time to time. But always remember to have at least one rest day a week (for me preferably after the long run).

So you may ask what terms like hard, easy, and VO2 maximum actually mean. I have an app on my phone which I put my distance and time elapsed in to and it spits out these numbers for me. For example, say I ran a 5k (3.1 miles) at 32:21. With this it derives the following:

Easy run 12:53
Tempo run 10:50
VO2 maximum 9.49
Speed form 9:06
Long run (between) 12:53
Yasso 800's [min/800m] 5:02

With this data I just say my easy run is essentially 12:53 and my hard run is typically my VO2 maximum at 9:49 (sometimes I substitute with a tempo run pace, but not often). When recalibrating my paces (once a month) I use the results from a 5k (one I raced or something private it doesn't matter).


No run

Do 10 reps of any options or combinations:

  • push ups
  • sit ups or crunches
  • pull ups
  • leg lifts or derivatives
  • jump rope
  • fornication


"Long" intervals

Pick one of the following:

  • 3 x 5min (hard) [3min]
  • Pyramid

Each should begin with a warm up run/jog and end with a cool down run/jog/walk.


Recovery run

This is an easy run which should not be as long as the long run itself but is a good run to make up mileage for the week goals. The pace should be comfortable and conversational. It should be about 45 minutes to an hour long if possible.


"Short" intervals

Pick one of the following:

  • 20 x 30sec (hard) [30sec]
  • 10 x 1min (hard) [1min]

Each should begin with a warm up run/jog and end with a cool down run/jog/walk.


No run

Do 10 reps of any options or combinations:

  • push ups
  • sit ups or crunches
  • pull ups
  • leg lifts or derivatives
  • jump rope
  • fornication


Long run

This is an easy run (or slower, gasp) meant to build endurance. It should be about one to two hours long if possible.


Rest day

This is probably the most crucial day. Still stretch, walk, or something light if you would like, but you need to chill out and let your muscles rebuild.

The mileage log

In addition to this I actually started tracking my miles to ensure I am staying within the 10% rule to help avoid any injuries. The last thing I wanted to hurt myself which would slow or reset any progress made.