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Breaking 19 minutes for 5k

Jan 6, 2023

After making some big fitness gains in August and breaking 20 minutes for 5k, I was hopefully that getting below 19 minutes would be a rapid process. It ended up taking a fair bit longer than I expected. My progress plateaued in October and November and it was looking like the 19:00 mark would have to wait until 2023. Suddenly in December, I broke through the plateau and after getting pretty close in the two weeks prior (19:13 and 19:05), had an awesome park run yesterday finishing in 18:50.

I’m very pleased with this result as it’s the fastest 5k I’ve recorded since 2010.

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Table of Contents

The training that got me here

After my big ski trip in August, I got back into running consistently in September. I averaged 5 runs per week mostly around the 45 minute mark. That seemed to hold my fitness in place but my 5k time was stubbornly tracking around 19:30.

What seemed to help speed up my times in December was making room for more quality workouts. I had been intending to do hill repeats in the past but hadn’t made it part of my regular training week. In mid November, I got a bit more serious and did a few weeks in a row where I did at least one hill repeat/interval workout.


The other variable I changed was the intensity of my HIIT workouts. If I’m honest, they had been more like MIIT workouts (medium intensity interval training) because I had been avoiding explosive movements out of concern for the timber floors in our apartment. I had an epiphany one week in November that I could safely do jump moves in our bathroom. Burpees on the tiled floor turned out to be a winning combination (though I had to start wearing shoes and gloves 😅 ).

The plan for breaking 18 minutes

Getting down to 17:59 is going to be a bit harder. I’m anticipating it will take me 6 months (as compared to 3 months to go from 20 minutes to 19 minutes) because performance improvements are not linear in my experience.

My plan is:

  1. Increase the duration of my workouts during the week from 45 minutes to 60 minutes.
  2. Add in two quality workouts per week (one set of hill reps and one interval workout). I’ll try to find a group to do these workouts with as I find it hard to push myself on my own.

  3. Add in a long run on Sundays. Again I’ll try to do it with a friend (or an audio book) to make it psychologically easier. I’ll progressively build up to a 2hr long run.
  4. Keep doing park run most Saturday.

  5. Keep doing 45 minutes of HIIT/weight training

What helped me with consistency

The biggest reason for my improvement has been consistency both with the running and the HIIT. I attribute that almost entirely to using Focus Bear every day. Running and HIIT are part of my morning routine.

I built the app to help me develop better habits and it’s working. I’d love you to try it out too 🙂 

Jan 6, 2023

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