What is Reasonable?

I have been running for almost three years now...

My pr is 21:30 in the 5k...

I am obviously not an olympic athlete, and I am sure many ask this question, but what should an average female athlete be able to run in a 5k with hard work and determination...

My goal is a 19:30, basically I am asking if that is a reasonable and attainable goal...

I don't see why you couldn't run a 19:30 in the 5k if you do some serious training. A two minute drop is a lot of time, but you have to ask yourself if you are willing to do more work than you currently are.

I don't know what you are doing for training, but let's look at what a typical competitive runner does to improve.

1. Runs anywhere from 50 to 100+ miles per week.
2. At least two workouts a week are high intensity workouts such as intervals, fartleks, long tempo runs, or time trials.
3. Monitor their diet to include as many high quality foods as possible. This means limited to none of the following: chips, soda, meat, processed foods, or dairy.
4. Get sufficient rest every day.
5. Does some sort of low impact cross training when their legs are injured or sore. Example activities include riding a bike, swimming, pool running, or the elliptical.
6. Works on strengthening his/hers upper body or core.
7. Does dynamic stretching before the run and static stretches after each run.
8. Races at least once a month.

There are other things that runners do to improve, but these are some of the more basic elements to consider. If you want to get better, you have to be willing to push yourself pretty hard at least twice a week in a run. You have to train hard and then learn how much your body can take. You also have to be able to do active recovery runs, so your body continues to adjust to a higher volume of running.

Every year as a high school cross country coach, I see runners go from 21:30 to 19:30 during the 11 week season, but we work hard. I bet you can do it, but you have to be smart about how much you can push yourself, and also tough enough to do the work.

Happy Trails - Coach Tief

Comments for What is Reasonable?

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Jul 12, 2015
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Feb 09, 2012
Getting better may be hard to predict!
by: Errogie (anonymous)

In this country we have a fairly new phenomenon called Parkrun (check out the web site) which is all about running a weekly 5K distance in what seems to be race format albeit inclusive of all abilities and ages. It provides a great barometer but can be hugely variable particularly in Scottish winter running over soggy grass and tree roots with wind snow or rain additions with some sharp corners on the route. As a 64 year old I'm currently trying to break the 20 minute barrier but everyone is at least 1 minute slower than they would be on a straight section of road.
30 seconds improvement on 25 minutes is only 2% and that's a small margin either way which could be the result of all sorts of external factors.
I'm a little shy of committing anyone to a 12 week programme because something always comes along to kick you of the narrow path, colds, injury etc.

For what it's worth I would try and establish a total weekly mileage of say 25 miles week and then fiddle around within that envelope. I would include at least two speed sessions and one to two days off which can also be used for cycling or some other cardio vascular exercise which takes the weight off the joints and tired muscles.

Membership of a running club is great for moral support, advice, incentive and meeting other afflicted individuals, and of course listen to your body. Getting better isn't always a predictable graph line, it takes time and sometimes goes up in steps! Good luck.

Feb 08, 2012
by: Anonymous

Thank you so much for the advice. Now my long term goal is to run a pr of 19:30 in the 5k. I want to make short term goals that lead up to my long term goal (19:30). How should I go about doing that? I.e.: 10 seconds for every 5k? I am starting a 12 week training plan, not very high mileage since i am injury prone, but how many 5k"s can i incorporate/should incorporate in the 12 week plan.
Again thank you for the advice. It has helped a lot.

Feb 08, 2012
by: Anonymous

thank you so much for the advice...now 19:30 is going to be a long term goal for me, since I don't know what I am capable of.
I want to make little short term goals that lead up to my long term goal ( pr 19:30 5k). How should I go about making these short term goals...i.e 10 seconds off for every 5K completed? I am about to start a 12 week plan right now...how many 5k's can I incorporate or should incorporate in the 12 week training plan...


Feb 05, 2012
Quality rather than quantity.
by: Errogie

In my opinion you don't have to run 50 miles a week to do a 19 30 5 K if you do more quality sessions and max 30 miles and regular racing (twice a month up to 10K).
Find someone faster than you to run with regularly until you can catch them and move on to the next victim!

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This article was written by David Tiefenthaler, the founder and main contributor for Tips4Running.com. In addition to running, he's also an author, and a full time teacher.

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