So Now What?

Now that I have completed C25K, I’m kind of missing the structure of the program. Tough as it was at times, knowing that every training session was designed to push me further towards my goal of running a whole 5K without stopping was a great motivator and gave me an amazing feeling of achievement at the end of every run. But now that it’s over, I’m not really sure what to do.

I know that I want to bring my 5K time down to under 30 minutes, but without a tried and tested program to follow, the prospect is slightly daunting. While there’s plenty of information on the internet, it’s hard to know what advice to follow and, to be honest, I think I’ve reached the point of information overload.

So, rather than worry too much about following a set program, I have decided to just have some fun and experiment with some different types of workout.

As with any experiment, I’m fully aware that some things will not work for me, but that’s ok. The important thing is to listen to what my body is telling me and enjoy the process.

So, last night I decided to do some speed training. I’d read a bit about fartlek training, which is a bit like interval training except that it’s not as structured. The idea is to run at a fairly gentle or steady pace, speed up for short distances such as the distance between two lampposts and then slow down to a gentle or steady pace again to recover. Doing a few repeats of this is in a supposed to be good for building up your race speed, so I thought I’d give it a go.

The session started well. I set of at a nice steady pace and was feeling pretty strong and confident. After about five minutes of jogging, I set my sights on a couple of lampposts and decided to sprint between them. This was a big mistake!

Instead of just increasing my pace to something a little bit faster, I ran flat out as hard as I could. According to my RunKeeper app, I maxed out at a pace of 4.28 minutes per km! A great pace if you can sustain it for more than a few seconds, which I clearly can’t!

The effect was brutal. I was puffing and panting and wheezing, but I still kept jogging. Very slowly, of course, but I didn’t walk. And I didn’t speed up again.

I decided to stop the session at 1.33 km and head for home, but after a few minutes I felt like I wanted to run a bit more. So I ran another 0.82 km with a couple more fartleks. These were much more controlled though, as I only increased my pace enough to get below 6 minutes per km.

On the whole, I enjoyed the session and will definitely incorporate farleks into my 5K training schedule. I just need to remember to maintain a degree of control and, no matter how tempting it might be to run as fast as I can, I still need to pace myself.

Have you tried fartleks as part of your training schedule? How did you find it? Has it helped to improve your overall pace for longer runs? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.