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Breaking 20:00 - Part 1

I didn’t have a team of scientists, fancy lab testing, and Nike prototype shoes (nor was I trying to break a 2 hour marathon) but I set myself a goal of breaking 20 minutes in the 5k. I ran my very first 5k in 27:05 back in April. Some injuries from my first marathon kept me from running consistently over the next two months. After lots of recovering, on June 19th, I was running with my phone in my hand (pre watch problems) and noticed I was running a pretty consistent 5:00/km pace so I decided to ride that out to my first sub twenty five minute 5k (24:37). However, I was still struggling with injuries and knee pain and tried a couple times over the next few weeks to start running more consistently. With the help of some physiotherapy and some shorter runs I was finally running again by the end of July.

I kept running consistently through August and then I enlisted the help of a running coach/athletic therapist. Together we made a 9 week plan for me to follow with the end goal of breaking 20 minutes on Halloween. I followed the plan pretty much to a T and ran 4 times a week for the last 9 weeks. The plan started with one speed workout (short intervals) per week, a long run on Saturdays, and about 30 km/week. I peaked with a long run of 17km in week 4. Then after a week of recovery runs to let my body rest I started the second phase of my program. This phase included long intervals on Mondays, tempo runs on Thursdays, and of course the long run Saturdays.

Blessed with some beautiful weather for the last week I enjoyed my taper week runs as I prepared for my first actual full out time trial “race” effort. I had done some location scouting trying to find a nice flat paved path to do my time trial on. I had been running a bunch of my intervals on a 400m track but didn’t really want to do that for 12.5 laps. I settled for doing a couple laps of Hawrelak park. It was mostly flat but did have slight up and downhills that I had to deal with. A quick warmup and some upbeat tunes and I was off. I felt pretty good and quickly split the first 3km in 4:02, 3:50, and 4:04. Disaster struck on the 4th km as I rounded a corner and had to go slightly uphill and just didn’t have the legs for it as I split 4:24. Knowing my chances of hitting my goal was basically 0 I turned around and tried to take advantage of that very slight hill and power my way to the finish. I ended up splitting that last kilometre with a decent 4:04 which brought my 5k time to 20:24.

24 seconds. Exactly what I ran over on the 4th kilometre. Of course, I was a little bit disappointed but I quickly cheered myself up with a well deserved Blizzard from DQ. It was a lot of fun to put my training to the test and see how far I could push myself. With winter coming and imminent snowfalls I probably won’t take another shot at this until the spring. Time to keep training during the winter and see what happens next year.

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