How to improve your 5K PB - Women's Running

How to improve your 5K PB

Author: Holly Taylor

Read Time:   |  September 22, 2020

Experts at 361° share their tips...

Whether you want to lead the field at parkrun or just achieve a new PB for yourself, running a personal best 5k time can be a tricky one to master. The experts at running shoe brand 361° Europe have put together some top tips for optimising your performance so you can run faster and more efficiently than ever.

Keep your runs easy

There is a well-known saying in the running world that you should keep your easy runs easy and your hard runs hard. What this means is that if your training plan calls for an ‘easy’ run, make sure your heart rate stays within zones 2-3 and don’t let your ego take over and dictate a faster pace. An easy run should be a good deal slower than race pace and should feel exactly that: easy! You should be able to maintain a conversation throughout the run and you can even practise nasal breathing. Easy runs allow you to recover from tougher workouts while building a strong aerobic base, which in turn will improve your fitness so you can smash that PB when the time is right.

Wear the right shoes

This may seem like an obvious one, but if you’re not a super serious runner you may not think you need different running shoes for different types of run. Those big, heavy stability shoes may provide the perfect support for long runs, but they won’t do you any favours when it comes to pacing a 5k PB attempt. For a faster run like this, opt for lightweight speed trainers which are specifically designed to help you maximise your running efficiency and aid you in achieving your goal. Rotating through multiple pairs of running shoes will also prevent them from wearing out as fast so you can wear them for longer.

Incorporate intervals and tempo runs

Your interval and tempo runs will be the harder runs in your training plan and will increase your VO2 max and raise your lactate threshold. The higher those numbers, the faster you’ll be able to run for longer as your body will be more efficient. A tempo run – also known as a threshold run – is done on the borderline of what feels comfortable as you will be running just below your lactate threshold. An interval run should include intervals that go beyond your lactate threshold so that you can test your body and improve your fitness. Interval runs will also allow you to get used to running at a faster pace. Do these types of workout 1-2 times a week to boost your fitness; combined with frequent easy runs and adequate rest, your 5k time will improve before you know it.

Work out your goal pace

A 5k is a tough nut to crack as you need to get the pacing spot on. Head out too fast and you’ll run out of steam before the end, but take it too steadily and you won’t achieve the time you want. A 5k is by no means an all-out sprint, but it’s certainly closer to one than a 10k or half marathon and you should be working pretty hard to get that PB. By knowing your goal pace before you begin, you can make sure you stick to a steady pace throughout the run and avoid going out too hard and losing your lungs and legs after the first half of the run. There are plenty of pace calculators online that you can use to work out the right pace using your goal finish time.

Maximise recovery

As always, the time you spend not running is just as important as the time you spend running. Sleep, nutrition, hydration, and complete rest are all key parts of a successful training regime. By getting enough quality sleep, eating a healthy diet to fuel your training, and hydrating properly, you will be able to maximise your running efficiency which will in turn allow you to run faster than ever and crack that 5k PB once and for all.

To find out more about 361° Europe and explore their range of running trainers, visit

Written by

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor is the digital editor of Women’s Running and co-host of the Women’s Running podcast, where she shares her running journey as well as the inspiring stories of women runners all over the country. She’s never been the sporty type, but running is the first time she’s felt real joy in getting active. She loves talking about running with a community of inclusive and supportive runners, and Women's Running is the perfect space for this. She's currently aiming for a half marathon PB!

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