Thursday, May 26, 2011

How To Go From a 20 Minute 5k Guy to a 15:30 5k Guy

My wife told me I was an idiot for doing this. She said I should charge money for this kind of advice. But I will do it anyway. I will give away the secrets for a 20 minute guy to be a 15:30 guy. Some of you will hate me for giving away these secrets, but only know that I had nothing but good intentions. So you want a to be a 15:30 5k guy huh? Well first you're going to have to do a little bit of work.

But wait, you don't know much about running except running around as fast as you can for 30 minutes. So that is why you start off by getting a beginner guide to running such as the one provided by Hal Higdon. Pretty simple and cookie cutter and you can't go wrong with that. So you go to the site and notice marathon programs in the beginner, intermediate, and advanced modes. So you pick the beginner level. Marathon training can't be that hard, after all, your brother trained for only a week and finished one.

So you start your training. It's best to have a couple of running buddies in the beginning because a 10 mile run by yourself can get pretty darn boring. After about a month you get yourself down to 8:30 minute pace for 10 miles. You're on your way to being a stud baby! You run your first marathon and finish in less than 4:30 hours but you are cramped up and hurting afterward. Who knew a marathon could be so hard? It's ok because you have got by Stage 1, building your aerobic base.

So you rest up and decide to register for a 5k. Your time can't be that fast because after all you haven't been doing much training since the marathon. But you blast a sub 20 5k and you didn't even think this was possible. It must have been the marathon training. Of course it was!

So this spurs you on to train more. After all if you can break 20 minutes without even training hard what can you do if you actually train? So you just do some random stuff like running quarters on a track as fast as you can. Two quarters a day will suffice. Hmm, that's boring, how about throw in an 800 in there every once in a while. There you go. You are well on your way to being a stud. After all, isn't a 5k about running fast? And what better training than doing a couple 400s and an 800 a couple of times a week for a total of 10 miles a week.

So let's see how your training is going by registering for another 5k. Bam! you break 19 minutes for a 5k! Who would have thought you c0uld do that! I mean, you spent a couple of years running for 30 minutes a day as hard as you could for 5 days a week and couldn't break 20 minutes and now you don't run as much and you are breaking 19 minutes. You are well on your way to being a stud. It is true, speed does kill. Now let's get those 400 times down so we speed up our 5k time. Let's run them harder.

So you keep up your training methodology and you can now consistently run in the low 18's for 5k. You are well on your way. Along the way you join a running group to meet more like-minded individuals and participate in relays and other grand activities. Who woulda thunk it? Running is fun! After another year of running you whittle your time down to sub 17:10 off of 10-15 miles of track work. Basically a few 400s and maybe some 800s and a mile thrown in their some days. But something isn't right. You know you can't go too much farther by farting around and experimentation. Also, you are reading all of this info about how to run faster and you don't understand a lot of it and other things that contradict themselves. You want to be one of the top runners but which methodology do you choose?

This is where you have to choose a local Olympian to guide and ensure your success. After all, they have been down that road before and you will be able to pick their brain. But be forewarned, you may think you are a stud and all but they will probably tell you that you are 25 pounds overweight and your primary goal will be to lose that weight. Take their advice and do everything they say. They will take your rudimentary ideas and mold them into a more advanced training philosophy. They will introduce foreign things to you like hills and long runs. You will be told to increase your mileage on a continual basis. You do some 5ks and you break 17 minutes for 5k and you feel good. You are well on your way to being a stud!

You like what you are doing so far. It's simple you just follow what your local Olympian says. He does the thinking and you do the following and whalaaa, the results come! And they are coming fast and furious. Can you keep up with the pace? But he tells you that you will reach a point where improvement will become harder to achieve. You don't care because you just want to continue on the ride you are currently on. You want more and more so you join his marathon program because you figure that if the marathon made you break 20 minutes before, what will it do for you now?

So you do the long runs. You make some buddies on these runs. You see what they are doing. You look forward to the weekend, not to party or lounge around, but to run and run longer. Surprisingly the runs are getting longer and longer but you don't crater. You continually take on the challenges for that week. Your new friends push the pace, a different guy each week, making the runs all that more exciting. During the week you do your mileage like a faithful servant and keep every commandment. Later on in the year you shock yourself and your coach by running a 16 low at a low key 5k. Wow how could this be? You are closer to the goal. It is attainable and you are well on your way to being a stud!

So you run your marathon. It is difficult but it is much easier the second time around. You break 3 hours and you don't feel totally cooked afterward. The marathon was great but now you want to see what you can really run for 5k and you can't wait. You end up waiting the appropriate amount of time to recover and you break 16 minutes for the 5k. Not only do you break it, you break it in style by running a 15:46. You now start to train with your local Olympian. You are training with the big boys now. Kudos you are well on your way to becoming a stud!

Since the marathon training worked before you decide to train for the marathon again. A few months before your 3rd marathon you run a 15:32! Kudos, you accomplished your goal. You are now a 15:30 guy. Mission accomplished, you are forever in your happy place. You can go home. You are finished because you are now a 15:30 guy. No wait, you aren't really finished. Because that was never really your goal to begin with. Your goal was to see how low you could go. Whether that be 18 flat or 15 flat you don't simply pack up and go home. You run now because it makes your body look the way you want it to look. You run because it makes your body feel how you want it to feel. You run because at the end of your hard work you get to see your results come to fruition. You run because you make good friends for life that respect your work ethic and you respect theirs. So you see, you never were looking for a final result or a destination or a great running time. The fun and fulfilment was always in the journey.

But if it is only the time of 15:30 that you are pursuing then the aforementioned plan will work as advertised but only if you follow it exactly as instructed above.


Anonymous said...

hey good post. Thanks for encouraging runners.

Yeah there is so much info out there it is confusing. It's good to read what worked for you. My path was a lot like that, started by grinding out a marathon - then gradually tried things to get better.

But then again like you said in some post, talent plays a role too. I'm not a 15:30 guy yet.

keep it up.
Fellow Runner.

Anonymous said...


I just thought it was the shoes.

As someone who remembers your first several longs runs with Kenyan Way, you have come a long way in a short period of time.

I'm glad to see that you are posting more. The Houston running blogs, except for maybe Sam's, have been inactive for the last several months.

John Spiller

Bill Blancett said...

Fellow Runner,

Thanks for the positive vibes!


My long runs with the KW were a huge part of my developmental process. It actually turned my outlook on long runs into a positive one. Between the joking around at the beginning of the run and the silent seriousness at the end of the run how could you not love it?

I agree about the Houston running blog community activity. It has died down in past months. It's a little more difficult than it seems to remain consistent with the posts since life seems to get in the way sometimes. But I have been renewed with a fresh outlook on training recently and I'll try to post more consistently in the near future to fill some of the void. Sam has resumed his training as well so at least there is some more content to consume.

As rich as the Houston Running Scene is I'm surprised we don't see more content out there! Wow, so long-winded, I should have made this into a post.


Anonymous said...

If you had to guess... If i ran 400m/800m like ypu said in the article for 3 weeks how much time off a 5k would it take off?

Mr and Mrs Hasler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for the training tips. Would you advise running the 400s and 800s-mile every day or every other day for recovery. At the moment i race 5k every saturday and in 3 months have got my time down from 24 to 20mins. my weekly schedule is mon 3xfast1k with 3 min rest+4x1min sprints with 2min rest, tue rest, wednes same as monday, thursday long v slow run say 10k at 50mins, fri rest, sat race 5k. Thanks again for your info,

Dan said...

This was a great read, thanks! Not sure I agree with your implication that anyone could run this time by doing what you did though. You've obviously got a significant amount of natural talent when it comes to distance running.

Anonymous said...

This is the dumbest article ive ever seen!!! If i see you in public im gonna give you $500 cash. This article really helped me learn how to run thank you so much! I ran some 5k and it was really a special? The part that mentioned eating pancakes on sunday is what really drove the thought home that i wanna be the best runner out there. im gonna try so hard now and ITS GONNA BE GREAT!

Coach Mark said...

Nice post. I am on about year 5 of consistent year round training and have had some down times but have hit a wall and am starting to get slower and really didn't improve much at all last year. Any ideas what is going on?

I am a USATF coach by the way and don't really like assessing myself but even if I did I wouldn't understand.

Anonymous said...

Is this a joke

Anonymous said...

I ran 5k in 17 min 30 sec and my age is 16 years 7 months .can i run sub 15 min 5k in next 8 months

Anonymous said...

No chance. Unless your still growing but 1730 to even 1630 takes like a year for sure

adi said...

I participated in national level competition u19 first boy ran 5k in 16 30 and this year i(Adi) want to win it no matter what it takes.

Anonymous said...

I went from 16.49 to 15.30 in one year at your age, so of course, it´s possible. Train hard an let you body recover in between.

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Thanks again.