It’s almost Turkey Trot time, which means it’s time for some final tune-up workouts. Lately I’ve been doing speed workouts on Saturdays, mostly because it works best for my schedule and I have bonus workout partners to keep me motivated.
This past weekend, I did one of my favorite 5k workouts: 5 x 1000 meters at 5k race pace with 400 meter jog recovery. The science behind this has to do with the amount of time you spend running at your VO2 max. You should aim for intervals that take between 3 and 5 minutes at your VO2 max (or your 5k race pace).
After a 2.5 mile warm up, I ran my first 1k in 3:46 feeling very relaxed and focused. I jogged a lap and ran my second 1k in 3:45. At this point, I assessed how I was feeling a decided to push a little harder on the next interval. This is usually how I race my 5ks as well. I ran the next two in 3:35 each. The second to last 1k was starting to get difficult, and I felt myself breathing pretty hard. On the last interval, I went as fast as I could, and crossed the line in 3:25. I finished with a (very slow) 2.5 mile cool down. I evaluated how I did, and decided that I could have run the first two about 5 seconds faster.
This workout is a great confidence-builder and helps you to visualize your race at the same time. After the workout, you should take a look at your times and review how you felt throughout the workout. Did you run too hard in the beginning? You shouldn’t feel lactic acid in your legs until at least the halfway point of the workout. Was the pace too easy? If your last interval (the one you finished as fast as possible) was much faster than the rest, then you probably could have run the first few intervals a little faster. There is a lot of useful feedback you can take from this workout and use for your race.
Some variations of this workout are: 4 x 1200 meters at 5k race pace with 400 jog recovery, 5 x 4 minutes at 5k race pace with 2 minutes easy running in between, 6 x 800 meters at 5k race pace with 400 meter jog recovery. Always run that last interval as fast as you can, and visualize yourself powering to the finish line. Also, if your Turkey Trot is a 10k, you can double the number of intervals and run them at your 10k race pace (and shorten the rest a little if you’re feeling adventurous).