It was right at a year ago when I thought... "I may be able to run sub 21 minutes in a 5k." I don't really run road races and since I sort of just jumped in to trail and ultra running. I never really had evolution from 5k>10k>13.1>26.2> ultra distance that seems to be quite common. I mostly run miles on trails and that is slower than running on the road so raw speed was always a question mark and not given much thought. Last year I decided to run a 5k with my buddy Jason on a whim. He showed up at my house about an hour before the race start, we ran 5 miles to the start, got there just in time to get our bibs pinned on and then took off. I ran an 18:56. Where did that come from? Granted, I had been running faster workouts every now and then in 2011 but in no way was this structured speed work. It was more along the lines of "I'm going to go out and run a faster pace than normal today." It worked some but I could feel my top end speed. When I ran a 5k later in the summer in '11 I just got to my top speed and that was it. My legs just didn't turn any faster. It was like I was made for good gas mileage, not top end speed. This year has been a completely different approach.
This year I have a coach who is pushing me to not only be built for the long haul but also to increase speed in the process. Strength work, explosion, core, as well as short sprints and up to mile repeats have been on the training calendar this year. I'm faster, I've built more speed. I returned to the same 5k one year later to see what had changed. First off, the course was a little over a 1/2 of a city block longer. In an ultra, that's literally nothing, in a 5k, that's 15 seconds. Second, last year was cool enough that I put on a long sleeve shirt afterwards. This year was 80 degrees and 80% humidity at the start. Not ideal conditions but it would be over with quick.
Long story short, I ran an 18:35. Good enough for 4th out of 551. 22 seconds faster than the year before with the course change and heat. I call that a lot of improvement in my book. And for the record, I have no idea how to properly run a 5k. My splits were 5:56, 6:00, and 5:49. I'm not 100% sure but I would think an 11 second per mile swing from 2-3 is a bit much.
UPDATE: JFK 50 record holder, David Riddle, says my 5k splits were good so that settles it. I guess I know how to run a 5k.
@travisliles Those splits look great to me. Especially since your last mile was fastest. It would be very hard to do much better.
— David Riddle (@rundavid1) May 29, 2012
On the training front:
Monday - Easy with strides + core, 8.1 miles
Tuesday - Tabata bike sprints + core
Wednesday - core + hill work,
Thursday - Easy trail run with strides at the end + core - 7.1 miles
Friday - Rest day
Saturday - 5k + 17 mile bike - 3.1 miles
Sunday - 3 hour trail run. Ran in the middle of the day for the heat. By the end I was covered in bugs and very happy to have my daughter and wife stop by the trail and throw some water on me - 17 miles
Total 44 miles ran, 8:24 of total training
It has been crazy hot here for May with records breaking almost every day. Times suffer but its a great opportunity to put nutritional plans to the test. I'm currently tinkering with my GU Roctane drink mix to water ratio and just how little supplimental sodium I can get away with. We'll see.....