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Welcome, Dave Courage! We look forward to working with you over the next 6 weeks. The following plan combines mileage, pace, and lifestyle guidelines that will statistically increase the chances accomplishing your goal and running a 5k in 21:59.
|Current 5k||23:30 (7:34/mile)|
|Current Weekly Mileage||36|
|Total Average Sleep||6:45 per night|
Your current 5k time is 23:30, and you’re shooting for 21:59, meaning you need to cut 1:31 to accomplish your goal. You’ll need to go from running 7:34 per mile down to running 7:05 per mile, cutting 29 seconds per mile. This goal is attainable! But you’ll have some work to do. In addition to outlining a weekly mileage schedule and pacing guideline, we’ll also look at areas of lifestyle that impact running and see if there’s an opportunity to optimize.
BMI is the lifestyle-factor that is most highly correlated with run time. We do not report on muscle versus fat composition, because BMI itself is actually more predictive of run time. Our data suggest that BMIs on the lower end of “normal” are associated with the fastest run times. But this doesn’t mean the lower the better. BMIs traditionally labeled as “low” are not typically associated with optimal run times. In other words, you want a low BMI, but not too low. We find that the most statistically optimal range (the range of BMIs associated with faster run times) is 19.0 to 23.0.
With a height of 5'11" and a weight of 182, your BMI is currently 25.4.
At 5'11", runners tend to be more likely to run a 21:59 5k as their BMI approaches that upper limit of the statistically optimal BMI range--a BMI of 23.0. Our data suggest that this person tends to weigh in the neighborhood 164.9 lbs, which is 17.1 lbs less than you currently weigh.
Totally up to you as to whether or not you'd like to lose weight. We just want to draw attention to the correlation between BMI and run time. If you do try lowering your BMI, we suggest taking a moderate approach of no more than 2 lbs per week max, while on this program.
Assuming levels of exercise outlined in this plan, the best way to impact weight is by carefully monitoring your daily or weekly caloric intake. Obviously, consuming fewer calories than you burn will reduce your BMI, while consuming more than you burn will increase it. The average daily caloric intake of male runners with 5k times of 21:59 is roughly in the neighborhood of 2,645 Calories, so you’re a bit under what we’re seeing on average.
Your daily caloric intake is 2,600 Calories. We don’t like to make specific calorie recommendations but wanted to present you with this data, in case you find it useful. When making decisions about diet, please be aware of your needs and goals, and always be careful and moderate with any changes.
Our 5k plans range from up to 11 weekly miles for beginners through 33 weekly miles for more advanced runners. Generally speaking, higher weekly mileage is associated with faster run times, so we want to build you up, incrementally, to where you’re running as much as other runners with your goal time. For male runners, in your age bucket, with 21:59 5k times, that means at least 25.9 miles per week.
You’re currently running about 36 miles per week, so you’re already satisfying this goal—way to go! You should be fine jumping right into Week 1, just please be aware that increasing weekly mileage by more than 15% is associated with higher risk of injury (especially at higher mileage). Follow along with our mileage calendar, and you should be fine.
We all know by now that sleep is critical to recovery, energy, probably even our sanity. Our data supports this conventional wisdom. The top quartile runners tend to sleep at least 7:30 per night, where less is associated with slower run times, and more seems to have no impact. So we recommend 7:30 per night for all runners.
You reported getting 6:45 per night, so you’re doing great! Keep an eye on your morning and evening routines to make sure you can continue to get this much sleep through the next 6 weeks of our training.
Our data suggest that alcohol starts to impact run time after about 7 drinks per week. More specifically, our top quartile of runners tend to drink between 4-6 alcoholic beverages per week. So our recommendation is to shoot for 4-6, where less does not hurt, but more is associated with slower run times.
At 14, you're above the minimum range, so let’s try to cut 8 drinks per week to get you from 14 down to 6.
While there doesn’t seem to be a statistically significant correlation between hydration and run time, faster runners tend to report drinking at least 6-12 cups of water per day. we recommend consuming at least this much water (or other hydrating fluid like tea, sports drink, or even juice—just be aware of calories) every day.
You’re drinking 96 ounces of water, or about 12 cups. This should be plenty to keep you hydrated for the miles we have planned!
Owning more pairs of running shoes is significantly correlated with faster run times! Isn’t that interesting?! Generally speaking, the faster half of the runners in our dataset tend have between 4-10 pairs of running shoes, while the runners in the slower half tend to have 1-3 pairs. Of course it’s always good practice to replace a pair that’s worn out, but our data suggest that actually having more shoes on hand (on foot?), might be a good practice to follow. Of course, simply buying more shoes will not make you faster, but it might make running more fun or enjoyable.
You have 2 pairs in your current rotation. We’d invite you to consider adding another pair!
58% of runners in our dataset report running in the mornings, versus 40% in the evenings. And what’s even more interesting is that morning runners tend to be about a minute faster that evening runners, across our entire dataset. We generally recommend trying to run in the mornings, if possible.
You mentioned that you run in the evenings. We understand scheduling constraints, but see if you can get out for some morning runs and see how it feels!
Literally 100% of runners in faster half of our dataset report eating breakfast every single day. Not too many runners reported not eating breakfast every day, but those who did were in the slower half. While this did not register as statistically significant, we are still comfortable recommending that all runners eat breakfast every single day. So even if you are not particularly hungry, or are pressed for time, it is important to start the day with some food.
Try something small—granola, a bar, even a piece of fruit.
|Mileage||36 mi/wk||> 25.9 mi/wk|
|TV||2.50 hrs/day||< 1.42 hrs/day|
|Alcohol||14 drinks/wk||4-6 drinks/wk|
|Water||12 cups/day||12 cups/day|
|Hills||Find a hilly route or do hill repeats for the duration of your day’s mileage|
A track or a flat loop is best, but can be done anywhere. Divide day’s mileage into:
|Race Pace|| |
|Fast||Push it hard! Should be challenging (7:56 min/mi suggested)|
|Medium||Push it a little. Get heart rate up (8:43 min/mi suggested)|
|Easy||Don’t push it. Just getting aerobic and putting in the miles. Keep the heart rate down (9:14 min/mi suggested)|
|Recovery||Very slow run, walk, or shuffle. Aim to bring heart rate back down after a fast interval (11:22 min/mi suggested)|
|XT||Cross train. Your choice. Yoga, cycling, swim, weights, even just stretching or a brisk walk.|
Please note that the paces outlined above are suggestions based on your profile. 87% of users found our suggestions to be mostly well matched for them—challenging, but doable. Of course, if the suggestions are not right for you, please modify to something you are more comfortable with.
We recommend printing this page so you can follow along and log your daily miles, sleep, and drinks—adding them up at the end of the week to get a sense of how you’re doing. Please refer back to “Workout Guide” above for descriptions of workouts and for pacing suggestions.
NOTE: If Race Day does not fall on a Saturday, add a day of light XT and/or an extra rest day. Stay tuned-up and fresh, but don't overdo it in the days leading up to Race Day.
This first week is all about on-boarding. Getting you sync’d with your weekly mileage, familiarizing you with the plan, getting you thinking about lifestyle, and making any adjustments necessary to establish good habits. It will be easier to fall back on these habits as the plan ramps up in the coming weeks.
Think about your diet—your meal plan. Determine what you will eat every breakfast, lunch, dinner, and for snacks in between. Determine when you will do your grocery shopping. Consider delivery services like Blue Apron (www.blueapron.com) and Purple Carrot (www.purplecarrot.com) that make meal planning easy and fun. Caloric data is included with the recipes. There are also plenty of apps out there that make easy work of tracking calories--we’ve used Fitbit and MyFitnessPal. Try to stay active throughout the day: stand up and move every hour, find low‐impact activities you enjoy (walking, yoga, cycling), and do them for cross-training, as well as for bonus activities during the week.
Print and cut out the Motivation cards at the end of this packet. Put them in places where you need extra motivaton (by the door, in the kitchen, on your dresser, on your TV, computer, in your wallet), and give a “support” card to someone in your life who can help support you over these six weeks. Sign up for any delivery services, and create accounts for any new tracking apps.
This week’s focus is more on lifestyle and establishing routines, so the miles should be fairly easy. Don’t push it this week (save it for next week!), go slow, and just get on track. We’ll do a short easy run on Monday, up the miles a little on Tuesday, break on Wednesday with a little cross-training, another easy run on Thursday, a cross-training day on Friday, and a slightly longer, slow, easy run on Saturday before taking a full day of complete rest on Sunday.
The second week is all about building on the foundation established last week. Let’s make sure those healthy routines are setting in and staying in place.
Have you been tracking your calories, monitoring your hydration, making sure you’re getting 7:30 of sleep? Maintaining a healthy BMI and healthy routines is a lifelong pursuit, so don’t get discouraged if everything hasn’t snapped into place yet, if you haven’t seen much change, or if you’re realizing just how challenging it can be. Download some apps or keep a journal, and don’t forget to keep moving. Get out for a walk at lunchtime, do 15 minutes of yoga after a run or before bed (we recommend the free Daily Yoga app, as a starter).
If you haven’t yet, let’s get that meal plan in place this week so that you’ll have a full month ahead where food is take care of, and you can focus on running. A great place to start is just writing out your meals for the week as well as a shopping list. And if you signed up for delivery, hopefully you’re getting your boxes by now. As the miles start to build up, it becomes even more important to get a good breakfast in. Many runners have a quick snack before a morning run, followed by a more substantial breakfast. Whatever you do, try to establish a routine, and make sure you have a store of calories the fuel the beginning of your day.
This week we follow the same schedule as last week, but for our Tuesday run, we add hills to build muscle and endurance. Find a hilly route, or you can do repeats. Lean into the hill from the hips (on the way up and on the way down), and make sure to keep your balance on the way down (by extending your arms out laterally). We’ll end by adding some distance to Saturdays long slow run. Be sure to get rest on Sunday. We worked a little harder this week, and we have an even harder week next week!
Now that we have a foundation built, in terms of both miles and our lifestyle routines, we’ll start to really dig in on the running.
By now your meal plan should be worked out and freeing up time for other things. Let’s look at another critical lifestyle factor: sleep. This week, pay special attention to the hours and quality of your sleep. Read up on sleep tips, and if you don’t wear a tracker, try out an app like Sleep Cycle or Sleep Time. You might need to head to bed earlier than you think to actually get enough. Set bedtime reminders in an app or on your phone. Sleep will be increasingly important as we ramp up the miles and add speed. It also helps with diet, recovery, energy levels, etc. This would also be a good time to buy that new pair of running shoes. More shoes won’t make you faster, but our data shows a significant correlation between shoes and run time. A new pair of shoes can motivate you and make running more fun! Getting them now will give you enough time to break them in before Race Day.
Establish a regular bed time during the week, and try not to stray over the weekend, at least for these next few weeks. Remember, brushing your teeth and reading in bed don’t count as sleep. And get that new pair of running shoes—they’ll help motivate you through tough weeks ahead.
Same basic schedule, but we increase mileage add sprint intervals on Thursday. Intervals will help you get comfortable moving fast! Find a public track (one loop is generally 0.25 miles) or somewhere flat where you can run at least a quarter mile uninterrupted. As for the interval workout itself, you’ll start and end with 1 mile of warmup/cooldown. For the miles in between, you’ll alternate between 0.25 miles at Race pace, followed by 0.25 miles at Recovery pace. For recovery, go as slow as necessary to recover. But for the sprint, go as fast as possible. This way your body will get accustomed to moving fast, so that race day won’t be a shock to the system. Take it easy on Friday (a gentle spin is a great idea), we have another long run Saturday. Rest up on Sunday.
We schedule this “fun” week as a quick recharge before our most challenging week of the plan next week. We don’t add any mileage this week. Then on Saturday, instead of a distance run, we do a mock-5k. This provides a chance to benchmark our progress. You’ve put in some good work, so hopefully you’re feeling good, strong, fast, and excited about your progress so far!
We hope you’ve started to notice a difference on your runs by now with the lifestyle efforts you’ve been working on. Keep up the good work. This week we’ll turn our attention to TV (as well as general, recreational screen time). TV sure works as a distraction, but technically it can elevate the heart rate and interfere with sleep quality, if done at night before bed. Statistically, top runners watch less than 90 minutes per day, and while less does not hurt, more is associated with slower run times. Other activities are far more beneficial, like a walk, yoga, meditation, reading, or just getting extra sleep! While TV can feel like recovery (from a hard day), there’s no better recovery than sleep.
We all need a little down time, and it’s especially important when training. Make an effort during this lighter week to schedule down time, but to also incorporate some down time into your training. If you’ve been hitting the gym on cross-training days, take a day to just go for a walk or stretch. Establishing a good approach to down time this week will come in handy next week, when training gets really hard!
No mileage increases this week, so training should be a breeze. The weekday runs are all at an Easy pace, so you should feel fresh and recharged going into Saturday’s mock-5k. If you’re feeling good (and hopefully you are!), don’t be afraid to shake it out and let it fly! Just be sure to take Sunday to relax, stretch, stay loose, hydrate, and recover.
This is the most challenging week of the program. We’ve been cultivating all those healthy lifestyle habits, so that you can fall back on them this week, when you’ll need them the most. We bump everything up a notch this week as a final push. Next week will be relatively easy, just riding it out and saving energy for the final race day. So this will be our final week of development.
It’s time to double down on key lifestyle goals. With more calories burned each week, you might get to eat more—but don’t fall into the “runner’s reward” trap. It’s just as important as ever to stay moderate and healthy. Also be absolutely sure you’re taking your down time, cross-training, and rest day seriously and use them to balance out the “damage” done on run days. It’s critical to max out on sleep, and reduce alcohol and TV to bare minimum.
You’re using your muscles a lot now, which means they’re going to be tired and hungry and might want to curl up in a little ball and quit. Be sure you’re fueling, replenishing, getting enough protein, and also keeping them active. They might want to freeze up every time you sit down for an extended period of time. So stand and stretch as often as possible. A quick squat, stretch, or lunge can do wonders--especially this week.
This week you’ve got hills, intervals, and a long run—and for each, we stack on the miles. Now is when those days of hills, speed, distance, and base‐building come in to help you make it through. Take your easy runs extra easy, so you can go hard on your hard runs. The more you mix up the pace, the better. But also don’t forget form. Focusing on form this week will help you perform and is a good way to avoid injury as more stress is piled into the system.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the final week! How do you feel? It’ll be a relatively easy week, so save up your energy for the race/time trial.
You’ve covered a lot of ground (literally). You've gotten to practice healthy habits and maybe even learned some things about yourself along the way too! If you're not where you hoped to be, don’t make up for it by making drastic changes now. The key is slow, steady, iterative, continuous forward progress. Small tweaks are ok this week, but nothing major (like suddenly taking up CrossFit—you can do that next week!). This program is designed to help you improve for race day, but also to help you improve your life. We hope you are a feeling stronger, faster, healthier, happier, more rested, energized, and prepared!
At the beginning of this week come up with a plan for what final adjustments you’re going to make to fine‐tune your lifestyle and get ready for your 5K. Make sure you have a meal plan that meets your protein, carb, and fiber needs and puts enough fuel in your tank without overloading you. Arrange your schedule so that you can get to bed early—especially the two nights leading up to Race Day. And don’t forget to thank all the people around you who have also helped support you through your training!
This week we’ll focus on preparing for Race Day without overdoing it. We’ll log some solid miles early on, getting tuned up to speed on Tuesday with a fast run. We’ll then just focus on staying active with light cross training and an easy final run on Thursday, before Race Day. As with your lifestyle tweaks, this is also an important week to stay the course in running—and not just in your workouts. Don’t try a new activity for the first time or test out a new pair of shoes. While you’re out there this week, appreciate just how much you have done in this short time. Seriously, nice work!
NOTE: If Race Day does not fall on a Saturday, add a day of light XT and/or an extra rest day. Stay tuned-up and fresh, but don't overdo it in the days leading up to Race Day.
Need help being reminded of your goals? Print this page, cut out your personalized goal card, and leave around as a reminder and motivator for yourself. Tape to your mirror, your laptop, keep with you in your wallet.
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