2016 5k Training Review + Goals

11 weeks of training. 374 miles. 6 speed workouts. 6 tempo runs. 5 hill workouts.

Over the course of the 11 weeks each of my key workouts increased in distance and difficulty. This was my second year using the spring season to focus on the 5k, so it seemed natural to compare the two seasons where they over lapped. Last year with 9 weeks of training I set a new PR of 21:02, an improvement of one minute and 11 seconds.

Shanty 2 Shorts 5k recap

Speed Work

This is the progression of speed work that I followed this year. I ran a similar, but shorter, progression last year and have included my past paces for comparison. On average this year I have been about 10 seconds faster (with the exception of one workout).

5 x 2:00 at 6:30 avg (training log missing pace for 2015)
5 x 3:00 at 6:42 avg (6:40 avg in 2015)
4 x 4:00 at 6:43 avg (6:55 avg in 2015)
5 x 4:00 at 6:44 avg (6:54 avg in 2015)
4 x 5:00 at 6:39 avg (new for 2016)
5 x 5:00 at 6:41 avg (new for 2016)

Tempo Runs

I initially didn’t think  I would be able to handle adding a tempo run to each each on top of a key workout (hills or speed work) and a long run. Three hard days just sounded like too much. I tried to do that last year (hills, speed, and a long run) and it was awful. I ended up dropping the hill repeats completely. If I recall correctly it was Hanna that suggested I add some tempo miles or fast finishes to my long runs. This worked out perfectly! I started with just 1 measly tempo mile (which felt awful) and built it up to 2 sets of 2 miles (which felt awesome!).

I have only 1 tempo run for comparison from last year. The week of my PR I ran 4 miles at 7:48 avg pace. My tempo runs this year have all been shorter, but significantly faster (7:16-7:33).

Hill Repeats

These are probably my least favorite workouts, but I am almost certain I have gotten faster this year, so I can not deny their value. The fact that I find these workouts to be the most challenging probably means I need to do them more often.

8 x 30s
6 x 60s (2015)
8 x 60s (2015)
4 x 90s
4 x 90s



2016 has been so much more consistent than 2015. In April 2015 I missed two full weeks of training due to a chest cold and an injury (week 5 and week 8). After just two hill workouts, I cut them from my training program entirely.

This year I have only missed a handful of easy runs (week 7). I only had to modify one key workout. My weekly mileage ranged from 20-41 (average 34). I honestly can’t think of anything that I wish I would have done differently this year. I’ve even been on top of the little extra things, like strength training once or twice a week and cleaning up my diet so I could ditch the post marathon/holidays/stress weight gain.


My improvements in my training make a PR feel almost inevitable. How big of a PR is hard to say. I really, really want to break 20 minutes. But if I’m honest I don’t think I am quite there. 19:59 is an average pace of 6:26. Although I have had some faster than average intervals, they were still in the 6:30s. I would need to shave an additional 7 seconds off of my fastest interval AND hold that pace for 20 minutes instead of 5. That is asking quite a lot.

On the other hand, last year’s longest speed workout had an average pace of 6:54. On race day I held an average pace of 6:46, an eight second improvement. So I don’t want to completely rule out the possibility. If I go into the race doubting myself before it even starts, I will never hit my goal. Also yesterday I ran some shorter intervals (10 x 400m) and my average pace was 6:25 for that workout. So I CAN run fast enough, I just need the endurance to hold on.

I think it is going to be damn close. The problem is if I start too aggressively I run the risk of fading hard after the first mile. But if I start too conservatively, the race isn’t long enough to make up for lost time. Fortunately I’ve given myself at least 4 chances to get it right this spring/summer.

April 24: Glass City
May 7: Shanty 2 Shorts (current PR set here)
June 4: Run 2 Save Our Youth
June 25: Charlevoix (because the half turned out so well last year)

I am also considering adding a race on May 28/29, June 11/12, June 18/19, or July 2/3, but I don’t want to race too often and find myself constantly tapering/recovering. I want to have time to keep training and keep improving.


22 thoughts on “2016 5k Training Review + Goals

  1. This kind of review is really useful! Next time I have to check my training and set my race goals, I’m going to do something like this. The balance of looking at the training and seeing the race one can run with it is smart. It’s a better basis than any racing calculator out there.


    1. I’m glad you found it useful! I love looking back over training periods. Usually I save it for after the race, but, like you said, it is really helpful to look at the training and use that as a guide for setting race day goals. Of course, there are too many variables so we never really know how race day is going to turn out, but it is nice to dream about those perfect condition races.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. hills are my nemesis too. i do speed work and tempo runs almost every week but when it comes to hills i dont do those very much. i had a hilly 10k a few weeks ago and was smacked into place how much i need to add those back. great recap of your training i hope your glass city race goes well!


  3. I think it’s so so so smart to give yourself multiple opportunities at a big PR, especially breaking 20 mins when you feel some uncertainty. When I broke my current half marathon PR I gave myself several opportunities. I missed out by a couple of minutes on my first attempt, but by the end of that race I *knew* I had it in me to PR the next time. I would say, depending on how you feel on race day, go slightly more conservative during the first mile of the first race and speed up from there. If you miss sub-20 in the end by a little bit but have energy left in the tank you’ll feel 100% sure you can do it next time. However, if you go out too fast in the first race and end up missing the PR you’ll feel even more uncertainty in the following races, even if outside factors affected your performance that first time. I hope that makes sense! Also just my two cents, obviously you know yourself way better than anyone else and should do whatever feels right to you!


    1. That makes total sense and will probably be my pacing strategy for this first race. I think if I go out right at 6:26 pace I am going to fade later in the race, especially with a small hill in the last mile. I think with a slightly conservative start I am more likely to finish strong, and just like you said, carry some confidence into my second race.

      And honestly, if I PR at even one race this spring I will be happy (sub 20 or not!). They can’t all be perfect races and it is such a relief to know if I blow one race, it won’t be a big deal.


  4. LOL I love that I have been following you long enough to pick up on the sarcasm in your Charlevoix comment.

    I can attest to your experience with hill repeats. They really do work wonders. I had originally planned to just incorporate a couple of these workouts in the middle of my training and forget about it, but once I saw how much they were helping my overall running I started doing them a lot more and I actually think they have helped my speed more than my speed work.

    I’m really hoping this weekend goes well for you! As to your goals: I think it was Matt Fitzgerald who said that the best goals are the ones that we have a 50% chance of achieving. That sounds counterintuitive at first, but it actually makes sense: a goal should be challenging enough to excite you and push you to new heights, but realistic enough that you won’t burn yourself to the ground training for it and end up heartbroken. I think your sub-20 goal falls in this category. It is possible but it will be hard. And that’s okay – that means it’s a good goal for you. If you don’t achieve it, you’ll at least get damn close and maybe it can happen this fall. If you do achieve it, will you set a new benchmark for next year? Or move onto another distance?

    Anyway, great job this Spring. I’m so happy for you that you nailed this cycle, made improvements and feel more confident. I forsee some GREAT races these next few months!


    1. Thanks for sharing that bit about goals. When I started this training cycle, my back of my mind goal was a PR of around 20:30. As training went on I’ve felt better and better about hitting that goal, so it only made sense to start thinking about sub 20. Even if I only get close this year, I know that is just going to fuel my fire to keep training. When I set a goal of sub 20, I knew it was going to take a few years to get there.

      But if I do get it? Yikes. I don’t even know. I honestly can’t think about being able to hit 19:45 or 19:30. It just sounds impossibly fast and honestly a little tiresome to be focused on 5 second improvements. I know this fall I am going to try for a half PR, with a vague goal of breaking 1:40. In an ideal world my plan is

      1. Sub 20 5k this spring
      2: Sub 1:40 half this fall
      3. 1:38 half Spring/Summer 2017
      4. BQ at Disney World Marathon on Jan 7, 2018 (my birthday).

      Then I remember that training is not linear and I just can not plan on that consistent of improvement and start questioning my sanity for planning all of my race goals 2 years in advance.


      1. Making long-term running goals is such a catch-22. They are necessary so that we can have direction and focus in building up to our ultimate dreams and the level we want to be at…but…it’s so hard to plan that far in advance, because so much can happen during that time. A year ago today I was sure I wanted to BQ THIS fall. Obviously that’s not going to happen, because I’ve since learned that running two marathons in a year is just not right for me, not to mention I’ve also become more educated about what it takes to make improvements in running (hint: you can’t train for the same distance all year every year). Now, I’m not planning my next 26.2 until fall 2017, and I have my sights set on a huge goal of going sub-3:30. But how do I know I’ll still want that a year from now? I may be ready for a marathon next Spring…or I may fall in love with shorter distances and never want to run a marathon again. I think a better strategy, instead of plotting out specific long term goals, is to just try and improve each year, in whatever form improvement may take. I recently read an article about Jared Ward in which he stated that from high school on, his only goal was to just improve *a little bit* each year. And look where that got him.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I completely agree. A little bit of improvement each year has been a major part of my goal setting. That’s why any 5k improvement will be satisfying, even if it’s not sub 20. I’m even hesitant to call 1:40 a real goal for this fall. Like it’s a benchmark I’d like to see, but so long as I’m training smart and working hard I’ll be happy.


  5. PR or not, your training has been awesome. Sometimes I think there’s a big difference in what kind of shape we’re in, vs what actually happens on race day. For example, a lot of the Boston Marathoners on Monday are definitely in better shape than their times indicate- but the heat and course got to many.

    I too am a believer in hill repeats. It’s a workout I love to hate, and I do it when training for races with inclines, but I feel like it makes runners stronger overall.

    I hope you go sub-20… that would be quite the accomplishment :).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amy. And I definitely agree a lot can happen on race day that we just can’t control. Your posts about parking garage hills are actually one of the reasons I decided to keep working on hills after this cycle. I need some of your strength!


      1. Thank you! My friends ran them tonight and I skipped out, though. I did an easy run with some others instead. But those garages and hills work… sometimes even picking a hillier route for an easy run can make a difference!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This is awesome! I think you will break 20 minutes this spring/summer!! I might start off the first one a little more conservatively and then just try to improve from there, but I really think once you get into it you’ll hit that sub-20. So speedy!!! I’ve never focused on the 5k much and probably won’t for a while, but it is so interesting to see how you train for it.


  7. Your training has been really great! You are making me want to try a few 5K’s in the future. I’ve actually never done one, so that would be a PR.

    I am sure you can hit that sub-20, it just might take time. Your training sounds like it went great, so even if you don’t get it right away, I think you know what to do to make it happen. Good luck! I can’t wait to hear how these 5Ks go!


    1. Thank you! I’m glad it is finally here. This amount of build up for such a short race feels so ridiculous at times. Let me know your bib # so I can track you! And I’ll be keeping an eye out for you before the race–hope we get a chance to say hi!


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