I'm struggling to break the 18 minute - 5km barrier. The weekly Tuesday race I enter finishes in a few weeks for the season, and I really want to crack it this season.

My training runs are all conventional runs of between 5 and 15km. I do no Interval training. Effort in training runs ranges from 4:10/km up to around 5:00/km on longer runs. In the actual weekly race, I'm hitting just under 3:50/km

I record most of my training runs & races with runkeeper, which may be of use in spotting what I'm doing wrong. In Runkeeper you can drill in to each activity to see pace, elevation of each run.

My weekly official times have been: 18.48, 18.21, 18.15,missed,18.09,18.08

Can anyone offer tips; should I be running longer and slower? More hills? Shorter, faster training runs?

I've tried laying off alcohol completely for a week leading up the the race, and eating more sensibly, because it started to feel like a barrier that more training wasn't going to get me past - but no luck, I plateaued last week at around 18:10.

I have the Garmin heart rate attachment, which I stopped using, but should I bring this back into my training, should I be looking to run for longer at higher heart rate?

I'm out of ideas, but time is running out and ideas greatly appreciated!

Updated with answers to Christopher's questions. And Hi! Very positive about the site so far, big fan of the computer nerd versions of it, seems the fitness one is similarly helpful!

  • 1
    Can you tell us more about your training? Besides distance of each workout, are you doing intervals? What effort are your training runs?
    – csi
    May 16, 2011 at 4:20
  • So what did you decide to do? Seems you could have a HUGE breakthrough if you have been achieving a great time so far without interval training. Good luck.
    – csi
    May 19, 2011 at 22:27

5 Answers 5


From what I've found so far, there is still a need for a well-rounded training regimen. In other words, just running your target distance (in this case, 5K), on a consistent basis will not make your faster. Great 5K Runs Workouts from Running Planet recommends the following:

  • endurance runs
  • strength building hill workouts
  • speed enhancing VO2 max training.

Sample Programs

  1. Cool Runnings has a program for Advanced Runners. (Defined as: For men, 5K time is between 17:00 and 20:00, and 10K is between 34:00 and 40:00. For women, 5K time is between 19:00 and 22:00, and 10K is between 36:00 and 42:00)

  2. Hal Higdon's 5-K Advanced Training, where you could start on week 7 or 8 in the chart.

  3. Cool Runnings has another article that details how you can tailor your own workout based on distance, speed, and rest.


As many others have either said directly or indirectly, adding some kind of interval work will definitely help. They will teach your body to adapt to a faster pace than you may be able to handle now. My suggestion is to run the intervals (depending on the distance) 15 to 30 seconds faster than your goal pace (17:30-17:45).

If that is not an option, then concentrate on fartlek runs (which are a way to integrate interval training with your normal runs) and slightly uncomfortable runs - that is a run which is slightly faster than what you can run easily.

As I write this, I looked into your logs and noticed that you had already broken 18, so congratulations and hopefully the tips here will help for your next goal.


I am not familiar with RunKeeper so I couldn't get some info needed but are you running intervals at all? Tell us more and I may edit my answer...

Since time is of the essence, I recommend this plan for the next 2 weeks assuming race is on Sunday.

Tues this week - warm up and then do 12 x 400m at 1:20 with a 400m jog in between each one. If this is too intimidating based on your current mileage, cut it to 8 OR make it a 1:20 walk in between. Idea is to run a little faster than 5k pace (1:27 per 400) but not too much faster.

Thursday this week - warm up and then do 1 x 2400m at 8:30 pace or a little faster. Jog an 800 and then "sprint-float" 6 laps. Sprint the 100m backstretch and then jog the other 300m for recovery.

Saturday of this week - Warm up and then run a hard 1600m. Rest 3 minutes. Run 8 laps of 200 on, 200 off where you run 200m at race pace (about 43 seconds so not all out at all) and then jog 200m easy.

Sunday - no race

Tuesday next week - Do a 3k easy run followed by 6 "sprint-float" laps.

Thursday next week - Do a 3k easy run followed by 4 "200m on, 200m off" laps.

Friday next week - rest

Sunday - PR

Good luck.

  • From looking at his Runkeeper workouts, I'd say no: he doesn't do intervals :-)
    – Ivo Flipse
    May 16, 2011 at 7:48

I do no Interval training.

That is the problem right there. If you do not do intervals, you can not teach your body to go faster. Hit the track, run intervals, push yourself hard, the speed will come.

Ryan Hall explains it here


Definitely add interval training. In addition to training strength, it trains leg turnover.

Longer and slower isn't going to help; you already run long and slow (and much faster than me :)

Hills also train strength and turnover, as do fartleks (plus they're fun).

Considering how close you are, I doubt diet/alcohol is the limiting factor.

Edit Oh, very old question; oops.

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