Whether you’re looking to up your 5K time or need to prepare for the best race of your life, this workout will improve your pace.
By incorporating surges or keeping the rest intervals at moderately quick paces, you’re prevented from falling into that space where you can settle in, zone out, and just cruise.
However, when it comes to racing, being able to calm down, relax, and settle into a smooth, rhythmic pace where you can conserve energy is crucial. So it pays to practice this in training.
One of the best ways to practice running comfortably at goal race pace is what my college coach at Villanova University, Marcus O’Sullivan, calls rhythm intervals.
5K Race Training: Rhythm Intervals
Once or twice a week, immediately following an easy to moderately paced run, O’Sullivan has his runners add 1-2 miles of rhythm intervals at 5K pace on a track. O’Sullivan would have his runners start the early season with 100 m at 5K, followed by 100 m at everyday running pace, for a total of 1 mile.
‘Throughout the season, he would progress up to 200 m at 5K pace, followed by 200 m at everyday running pace for a total of 2 miles.
As a standalone workout, rhythm intervals aren’t very taxing, but tack on 6-8 miles before, and it turns out to be a solid 8- to 10-mile day with 1-2 miles of half-marathon to marathon pace at the end.
Still, the intention of this workout isn’t to be overly hard or leave you feeling beat up.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a race effort, rhythm intervals should fall in the 5 range. It’s only a half-mile to a mile of 5K pace broken into less than 1-minute intervals. The ultimate goal of rhythm intervals is to practice running goal 5K pace as efficiently as possible: relaxed, calm, and in control.
The more you practice a particular pace in a relaxed state, the more efficient you become at that pace.
Rhythm intervals make a great Friday speed session, where your hard speed session is done on Tuesday and your long run is on Sunday.
The Workout: Rhythm Intervals
- Run 5 to 8 miles at your normal every day running pace (you can use maintenance or steady pace from this running calculator)
- Immediately following (without stopping) run 100 m at your goal 5K pace followed by 100 m at a moderate pace
- Repeat the 100/100m intervals for 1 to 2 miles
- Once you comfortably reach 2 miles of 100/100, increase to 200 m at goal 5K pace followed by 200 m at a moderate pace
How Do You Train for Your First 5K?
How Can I Run a Faster 5K?
The single most important thing you can do to run a faster 5K is to be consistent with your running. However, no matter how many days per week you run, commit to it, and stick with it.