Sub 17 5k – Week 21 training diary

I’ve got to the point now where I believe I have the sub 17 minute 5k fitness in me and its just a case of getting on the start line in a 5k race in good conditions. That said I don’t have a 5k race lined up. Next on the agenda is the Blyth 10k on 12th April.

This week I was looking forward to my 3rd lactate threshold test and I was excited to see what the recent breakthrough translated to in terms of what my body is doing.

Training Diary

Plan – 45min recovery

6.6 miles in just over 45mins @ an average HR of mid 150s. These runs are starting to sneak under 7mins per mile which is certainly strengthening the legs underneath.

Plan – 45min Threshold

Had the 2hrs+ drive down to Doncaster so in the end didn’t get a run in and just rested up for the Lactate Test tomorrow.

Plan – lactate threshold test at Blizard Physio

Appointment was 9.30. Was staying at a nearby B&B so drove down. Had a good chat with Dave and got into the various body checks etc. Was pleased to see my flexibility had improved as well as my lung capacity. Blood levels were ok apart from Haemoglobin so need to get back focussed on nutrition.

Onto the treadmill and I have to admit I was nervous. I think the more of these tests you do the more nervous you get. I was anxious to see my stats improve dramatically. As the treadmill got faster I was sweating up quite a lot and have to admit to not feeling great.

The last 3 minute burst saw me running at 5.18 miling or 16.30 5k pace. I coped ok but was glad of the end.

Overall my lactate threshold pace had improved from 6.49/mile in my first test to 6.10/mile in the 2nd test and now 6.01/mile in this test.

At 5.18/mile my HR increased to 189bpm. The lactate in my blood was read at 8.8mmols. Dave believes that, not only am I capable of running a 5k at this pace but also a 10k! That is music to my ears and means I have the potential to run a sub 33min 10k!

Obviously a lot needs to be done to get to that level, most importantly continuing the task of building up my strength (and belief).

It was also great to have a physio session with Jenny and I’ve seen some real improvement in my shin which is actually referred pain from issue elsewhere on my right side.

Time to get stuck in.

When I got back to Newcastle I felt like a run and got out for a strong 45min recovery covering 6.8 miles at 156bpm. I specifically took the opportunity to ask Dave about these recovery runs as I wondered whether they are getting a bit testing but the fact is, in my recovery heart rate zone I’m producing about 2mmol of lactate which is a good level for endurance building. Also, because I am not doing any speed sessions (or very high mileage) it’s not necessary or beneficial to run any slower on these outings.

Plan – 40min recovery

Another zippy recovery run. 6 miles completed in 40mins with an average HR of mid 150s.

Feeling strong.

Plan – rest

Rest as planned, fell asleep after work for an hour which was nice.

Plan – 45min Threshold

Was toying between Riverside parkrun and Newcastle parkrun but then the wind and rain forecast came in.

Actually not too bad when I woke up but made a late switch to Gateshead parkrun as I’d only done it once and wanted to put a decent time in as had been snow on my first attempt in Jan 2013.

Despite now knowing that I’m better off not wearing the Garmin for some reason I put it on and then proceeded to let it distract me too much.

At the start two lads went off pretty fast so just tucked in behind maybe half a mile and then felt like they were already slowing up a little incline so took a chance to get in front. Then the distractions began…

First I wasn’t confident I was going the right way. Thanks to the guy in second for kindly shouting instructions!

Second, the Garmin buzzed the one mile completed and I looked down to see a 5 minute mile! Fair enough it was net downhill but the fastest mile I’ve done that I’m aware of prior is probably 5.25-5.30.

Now if I hadn’t been wearing the Garmin I would have been unaware and cracked on. I was feeling fine. Unfortunately I let it freak me out a bit. Plus the mind started drifting to thinking this was the sub 17!

It didn’t take me long to realise the rest of the Gateshead parkrun is net uphill and a bit of a tester. Also, I now remember it’s overlong at 3.2 miles!

To be fair I stuck in and got on with it but was only able to put in a few 5.40-5.50 miles.

As I approached the final straight I was unable to really muster anything and coasted in a bit.

Still 17.43 and first over the line. They say parkrun isn’t a race but even so there is a finish line and I was first to cross it. It’s the first time I’ve finished 1st so pleased with it.


First 1st at Gateshead parkrun

Even better was the Strava review which estimates my 5k time as 17.06 (5.30 miling) and also various pbs including most notably 2 miles at 10.46.

Plenty to be positive about.

Plan – 80min recovery

Got out about 5.30pm. It was bright so I thought that meant decent weather. Settled into the run nicely and I went the same route as last week. Felt much stronger and was ticking the miles off easily. Then turning back for the second half for home there was a testing icy cold wind which made things tricky. It got tough last 20 minutes but finished it off. I think these long runs will really give me some benefit over the coming months.

Weekly Totals

Running ~38 miles

Another good week and confidence has been boosted by another trip to see Dave. Very keen to start delivering on the potential I have.


Austrian break and update on running targets/plans

Holidays are always a good time to step back and reassess things I think. Admittedly I’m one who struggles to fully switch off. So when I go on holiday as I have in Austria for the past two weeks I spend quite a lot of time thinking about my life and what I want to do and achieve over the short, medium and long term. Running plans are an important part of this.

As far as my running goes, before leaving for Austria I had a breakthrough following only 4 weeks of training an average 18-19 miles per week, running a 5km pb of 18.05. I was delighted obviously. Following that I struggled to get back to it both mentally and physically. I had a very busy period socially lined up and I decided to ease off from the running and I didn’t miss it. To be honest I felt exhausted as well. I still don’t think I’m fully recovered from my recent health problems and the last thing I want to do is dig that hole again. I’m still supplementing iron and vitamin B12. I’m still visiting the doctors for blood tests as my readings are still not “healthy”. So with that backdrop I need to keep it steady.

That said, I’m as ambitious about my running as ever. The subject of this blog has always been sub 17 5k dream. But I’ve decided to put in place a more concrete goal. Following my lactate threshold test at Blizard Physio in June my knowledge about my physiology and potential has improved. I am capable of going sub 17 with the correct application, commitment and training. Critically, I’ve also met someone in Dave Tune who has conveyed this message in the clearest possible way, and in doing so has given me great belief in my ability. This is so important and I’m grateful that I made contact, paid the money (well worth it) and made the trip to Doncaster. People would question why a non professional runner would do this. My answer is I want to be the best I can be.

So my target now is to run a 16.34 5k pb by my 35th birthday which is 10th March 2016. The landmarks to achieve that on the way remain unchanged namely –

Sub 18min in 2014
Sub 17.30 in first half 2015
Sub 17 in second half 2015
Achieve goal by 10th March 2016

I’m under no illusions about how challenging this is but I’m committed to achieving it. I’m aware that I have fallen behind this year due to my health issues and I probably can’t afford to end up in that situation again. So, again, I’m committed to looking after myself and training very smartly.

Key to training smartly is getting the sessions right. In the short term I will be continuing the training plan that preceeded my recent 5k pb which was given to me by Dave Tune. This was very simple. I ran 4 times per week with 2 easy runs and 2 lactate threshold runs based on the test I completed in June. For those that are interested, my easy runs are based on heart rate with an aim to not exceed 156bpm. My lactate threshold is around 185bpm so I run those at or below that level. What I’m wanting to see is the pace at that HR improve over time. The reason I knew I would pb at the LBGT 5k was that I was running at around my old 5k pb pace at approximately my lactate threshold, meaning that I could reasonably expect better with a race effort. Indeed I wore a heart rate monitor for the race and averaged 188bpm. I need to condition myself to push to around 194-195bpm in a 5k to really dig deep into the sub 18 (and eventually 17) area. That’s what I’ll be looking to do but I can’t do that in 4 weeks so I’ll be looking for a good training block starting next week. Note that my estimated maximum HR is 204 based on my lactate threshold test. Incidentally I am an ardent believer in using a heart rate monitor and I plan to write a full post on this later. The eagle eyed amongst you will realise that my estimated HR max of 204 is a good deal higher than an estimated max HR that would be found using the oft referenced “220 less age” formula which is far from accurate in my case, a full 17 beats per minute in fact!

I have entered the Great North 5k on 6th September which could come too soon depending on how I react to getting back to training but I now have the beauty of knowing my heart rate and training paces so I will know with some certainty whether to go for a pb or use it as a decent session. Otherwise I’ll just look to go sub 18 at a parkrun in Oct/Nov.

The Jesmond Joggers 4 mile Club Championship will have to be a threshold session as it comes before the GN 5k race but still a chance to compete before I knuckle down for Cross Country training. My goal here, as it has always been, is to qualify for the medium pack and help my club get promotion. Last season was a tale of two halves with a peak at Wallington Hall before my anaemia wreaked havoc with the pull out at Wrekenton and general poor performance elsewhere. I’ll look to build stamina as the season progresses and take that into a sub 18 attempt but also a debut over 10km. In that regard I’m hopeful of entering the Town Moor Memorial, a race I’ve watched the last two years…

Come December I hope to be in the best possible shape for the North East XC Championships.

So a lot to look forward to, watch this space.

Any questions please let me know. I want to put some more effort into this blog going forwards and I also plan to start writing an ebook about running and specifically my thoughts and experiences on improving 5k times. I would plan to publish it on achievement of my goal.