Coaches Corner: Train for a 5K with Becca Ades

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Looking to nail a faster 5K? Look no further than NBR coach Becca Ades. She’s developed a 12-week training plan specifically for the 5K distance, adapted from legendary coach Pete Pfitzinger’s program. And she’s leading an NBR training group to help runners gear up for the Boston Athletic Association’s 5K (which takes over Beantown’s streets just two days before the Boston Marathon).

With a PR of 17:36, and a few recent local 5K wins under her belt, Becca loves the versatility of the distance: It can be a low-key fun run, or a serious test of your speed—and grit.

“And at the end of the day, if things don’t go as planned, you have what, six minutes to get through? That’s nice, too.”  

She created a program of speed, tempo, and lactate threshold workouts for runners who are serious about putting in the work to get a faster time.  

The furious intensity of 5K races pushes you past lactate threshold pace, with your body relying on its anaerobic system. Which means you need to train for it differently than you would for longer distances where you’re running more slowly and using your aerobic system.

“You will work your way up from both the top end (speed work) and the bottom end (tempos), and gradually start putting your 5K together through different track pace work and short time trials,” Becca explains.

Her other 5K tips?

Have a goal pace in mind. “This will help you mentally prepare during the workouts and give you the confidence you need for race day.”

Find a pacing strategy that works for you. “Word on the street is the best 5Ks are run with a fast first mile, slower second mile, and fast third mile. I think when I’m in the best shape, I view the 5K as a one-mile race: You’re running the first two miles at pace to get to the last mile and hold on for dear life. Prefontaine once famously said, ‘No one will ever win a 5,000-meter by running an easy two miles. Not against me.’ So, you know, take everything with a grain of salt ☺”

Once you hit the start line, believe in your training, execute your race plan, and be your biggest supporter. “If things turn south, set mini-goals during the race, like, ‘I’m going to keep up with the guy in the orange shirt,’ or ‘I’m going to push as hard as I can to the big red building.’ The same things you do in a workout, do in a race.”   

Want to join Becca’s training group? Email her at rebecca.ades@gmail.com.

Becca Ades