How To Run A Sub 20 Minute 5km Race! | Running Training & Tips

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- A sub 20 minute 5k is probably up there

at the top of the tree as a goal for aspiring new comers

or seasoned runners alike.

- Yeah, it's a serious barrier for many runners out there.

But hopefully, that's where we're gonna come in to help

with some tips for your training and your racing

on how to get under that elusive time.

- So this is GTN's How to Run a Sub 20 Minute 5k.

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- Why in recent years there has really been an emergence

of these ready available local running events.

One of which is the parkrun,

which just seems to be popping up in every town and city

across the globe.

And as a result, this popularity in the 5k distance

has just gone through the roof, and everyone's trying to set

personal best times over that distance, which for many,

tends to be this illusive sub 20 minute 5k.

- You're right, Mark, and indeed to do that,

we need to be crossing the finish line

with a time on our watch that says 19:50 something.

And regardless of your distance,

these targets are all about our ability to pace

and crucially knowing the pace that we need to hit.

- Well, that being said,

it's good to know what just a 20 minute 5k equates to.

So doing a little bit of working out what the pace is,

so that equates to a 4:00 per kilometre pace,

or around 15 kilometres per hour.

- True, but this is actually our goal

is to get under that 20 minute and nip underneath.

We want to be able to, well, not cut it too fine.

So we should be aiming for a pace

in the region of around 3:55 per kilometre

up to say 3:58 per kilometre,

which will give us a finishing time of 19:35 up to 19:50,

which, well, is perfect.

- Yet, but I'm really afraid to say

it's gonna be quite tough,

because 5k distance tends to be pretty brutal, doesn't it?

So, it's short, but 20 minutes is a long time to be running

at that top end speed.

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- There are some simple steps to consider

to get yourself as ready as possible

for tackling your 5k on race day.

- And the first of those, is to head out for a gentle jog.

And you wanna allow yourself plenty of time to do this,

and you want to do around 10-15 minutes and maybe finish

with a couple of accelerations to really wake those legs up.

- Pacing is incredibly important,

particularly from the start.

I have seen countless of people shoot off

as if they've left a cannon.

Only for them to parachute backwards a few minutes later.

Try not to be that person.

- The key is not to burn all your matches in the first k.

It's very easy to get carried away

and you do wanna use that adrenaline to some extent,

but make sure you keep a cap on it.

- Right then.

Let's say you were targeting the top end

of that range we talked about before,

and gunning for a finish time of around about 19:50.

Now that gives us a pace of 3:58 per kilometre.

So from the start you need to limit yourself to say

a 3:50 for that first k, and that with some simple maths,

tells us we've got an eight second buffer,

which believe me, is gonna be useful towards the finish.

- And once you've established your rhythm and pace,

make sure you settle down into that as quickly as possible.

Otherwise if you do this for too long,

you're gonna start creating some damage.

So ideally settle down within the first k.

- Don't worry about other runners around you either.

This is all about you and that sub 20.

This early phase of the race is critical

for hitting that goal.

So lock into your pace

and don't be pressurised by others around you.

- Yeah, be confident in your strategy

and really try to keep it consistent.

Try not to make any spikes in pace or erratic surges

that other athletes might influence.

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Of course the terrain and location of the event

is definitely worth taking into consideration

when you're making your plan of attack before the event.

Now if it is your first time at this event

then you'll want to maybe check online,

see if there's a course profile there.

Otherwise, you can wait until race day

when you'll be doing your warm-up before the event

to do almost a little bit of a recce of the course.

Check out, see if there's inclines, declines,

and if there is,

then you might want to adjust your pace accordingly.

- Yeah, and if there is gonna be some of these hills

in the race, you just need to make sure

that you back off your pace accordingly as you approach one,

'cause you don't want to go too hard.

Rather try to focus on good form and posture

and try and really push on over the top of that hill

rather than going,

"Oh, I can have a little bit of a break now."

So you need to try and capitalise on that effort

and momentum you've built on the upside,

so that on the downside you can really,

well, try and let yourself go and use that momentum

and also try and catch up on a bit of the time

that you might have lost before on that climb,

but within reason.

- Yeah, and on that note,

try not to fall into the trap of hammering the downhills.

You really want to try and relax, as you've mentioned,

and really get into that mindset of letting yourself go,

and I guarantee you will be catching people.

- Now on another note,

if you're gonna be running to heart rate in your race,

do try and maintain it.

It's something that really can make a huge impact

on your pacing.

And a good tip is

if you've got a watch that has an alarm function,

set it to the upper limit that you know you can cope with.

Do of course listen to it in the race,

because burning all those extra matches early in the day

really isn't gonna help at all.

- Now admittedly, although it may not feel it at the time,

20 minutes is a relatively short span of time.

So we really don't need to be concerning yourselves

with hydration during the race really whatsoever.

However, if you are in a hot climate

then you might want to take some sips of water,

but really that's all we're talking about.

- Although, you could say that if you are racing

in the summertime or in a hot climate, then the event

is probably gonna be making provisions for this.

So just check the event information beforehand

and find out where those eight stations are gonna be

and where you can take liquid on board.

- Yeah, and of course we do need to think about

hydration and fuel in the immediate hours before the race.

So whatever it is you're gonna be taking on board,

be it some food or some liquid,

you gotta give yourself some time for that to digest

and settle in your system.

I personally always like to have that done

two hours before the start time.

So just work yourself backwards from there.

- Yeah, and if you really are gunning for that sub 20 time

and you've executed that pacing plan perfectly,

then I'm fairly sure you're gonna be hanging in

for dear life in those final stages of the race.

So it is, I'm afraid, gonna really hurt at the end.

- Yeah, and of course, in that final,

let's say half of kilometre,

just give it a little bit of a nudge and push on,

and once you can see that finish line,

let's say the last 100 metres or so,

just get after it and sprint to the finish really.

- Yep, best of luck to you.

Please leave it all out there.

- Yeah, and of course, if you have done,

be sure to drop us a comment in the sections below.

We'd love to hear about how your attempts

at Sub 20 have gone.

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