THE CLINIC: Training Tips for the Occasional 5K

Thu, 13 Sept. 2012 - 1:40 a.m. MT
Credit: ARA Staff - American Running Association

QUESTION:
I am a 58-year-old runner who is cross training more in order to save the joints. I have had heel, knee, and hip problems in the past but still love to run. I recently installed an indoor exercise pool in my house and want to include swimming in my training to go along with my biking and incline-walking. I do each once a week and my question is, what is the best workout for my one day of running? Should I go for a certain time or distance, or do intervals, or a combination of both? I train for fitness but like to do an occasional 5K. 
 
Walter Boone
Merrill, WI
 
ANSWER:
If you are only going to run one day a week, I would make it a 3- to 4-mile run that breaks down like this: 
 
  •  
  • 1 mile easy warm-up;
 
  •  
  • 1 to 2 miles of intervals that would include 4 or 5 x 30-second intervals at 80 to 85% effort with 1-minute recovery jogs; 
 
  •  
  • 1 mile easy.
 
This would keep you trained for a 5K. If you are going to race a 5K, I would allow yourself at least two days of running for 4 to 5 weeks prior to the race. The second day would be a tempo run of 3 to 4 miles. If your knee pain persists, I would recommend seeing a sports medicine specialist to check for muscle imbalance, improper shoe
selection, or incorrect biomechanics that address foot strike and gait.
 
Philip Bergman 
Washington, DC
 
ANSWER:
I suggest the following:
 
1. Reduce your grade on the treadmill workouts to 1% and consider
increasing your speed to 4 or more, based on how you feel that day. Too high of a grade will hurt your knees and other joints.
 
2. In winter, do several treadmill workouts per week with the above
specifications. In summer, run 2 to 5 miles at a reasonable pace twice a
week. Every second or third week, substitute one of your runs for an interval workout. Keep it simple, such as 400-meter repeats with a 2- or 3-minute rest between each interval. 
 
3. Keep track of your shoe mileage and change them out after 300 or so miles.
 
4. Finally, take a complete of days off from all cardio workouts from time to time. Your
body and your mind need the rest. Use strength workouts within reason. 
 
Tom Woltz, Sr., MA, EP
Houston, TX

DISCLAIMER: The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.
The American Running Association (ARA) and its Clinic Advisory Board disclaims responsibility and shall have no liability for any consequences suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site. ARA does not endorse specifically any test, treatment, or procedure mentioned on this site.

(RUNNING & FITNEWS® September / October 2009 • Volume 27, Number 5)



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