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Couch to 5K
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5k time and Race for Life

Hello all. I have some timing questions. I graduated from the programme a couple of months ago and have been heading out 3 times per week and running for 30 mins (with 5 mins warm up and cool down each side). Today I went out and was pleased with my speed: 40 mins total, 5.34km, average pace 7:44min/km, average speed 7.8kph. I should emphasise that this was 30 mins of running sandwiched by 5 mins each on warm up and cool down. So I don't think I'm too far off the 30min target (though my maths isn't good enough to work it out...!!!)

I'm running a Race for Life at the end of this month with a friend and we'd both really like to complete the 5k in 30mins. I have a few questions:

1. Does anyone have experience of running race for life, or a 5k in 'race-like' conditions? If so, do you find that the atmosphere and adrenaline helps you to run better than you do alone?

2. Any tips on what I can do over the course of the next couple of weeks to increase my speed?

Many thanks in advance for any replies :-)

6 Replies

To do your 5k in 30 minutes you need to hit a steady 6m/km.

Parkrun is a free, accurately timed and measured run held every Saturday all over the country and will give you an idea of what it is like to run with other people and what your actual 5k time is. parkrun.org.uk/ Race conditions will probably boost your overall time but don't count on it being a huge difference.

Fast/slow intervals, run over 5k, a bit like C25k, but no walking, is a good way to improve your speed. Have a look at runnersworld.co.uk/general/... to see what your different paces need to be.

Good luck. Tell us how you get on.


Just found this link Ian, and wanted to thank you for posting. FINALLY I now understand what all those pace terms mean!


When you run the Race for Life you'll be in very crowded conditions. I trained like fury before last year's Race for Life but it was on one of the hottest days of the year and was absolutely jammed. I set off with the 'Runners' group but was constantly obstructed by people who slowed to a walk. In the end I did too and got to the finish line in just under 40 minutes - gasping for more water! This year I won't be any faster as I'm doing a 'Pretty Muddy' Race for Life with obstacles.

Aim for 30 minutes in your local Parkrun where it's less crowded.


I just did one yesterday. 14,000 people...I did line up with 'runners' but was a bit later there than intended so was in 4th wave, and there were dogs and buggies alongside me! No one was stretching and I felt a bit daft doing so but I did... Then I realised why -because everyone just carried on walking...

I ran the whole thing but did a lot of weaving in and out but I did it in 31 mins, 10 seconds, my fastest yet. It's not a 'run' really; it's people making their way round 5k in any way they can for reasons which are personal and not concerned with time! You can run it, but if you're looking to record times and improve on them, park runs are better.

Saying that, I loved it and was on a high for the rest of the day - and still am!

Re getting faster, running fast and slowing down, then repeating (intervals) is the way to go. The race for life gave me something to aim for and now planning to do another run (maybe smaller!)


Thanks for your replies.

I hadn't actually thought about how busy it would be and having to navigate my way around everyone! Hmm, maybe I won't be achieving a personal best!

I think I'll have a look at intervals. I've also found a couple of podcasts that play music at a certain number of BPMs - if you keep up with the pace, then it will get you to 5k in 30mins.

Let's hope the next couple of weeks can knock a few minutes off my time :-)


Agree with the others on here, I wouldn't expect to go very fast on a Race For Life - there's just so many people. Unless you manage to get right at the front and stay there. When I did this year's I was with the joggers but after about 500 metres most people were obviously out of breath and began walking and it was just jammed. My friend and I spent a lot of time weaving in and around people. In the end we gave up on timing and just relaxed (incidentally we got a free ice cream half way round!) for the last 500 metres we even skipped! Agree with above if you want to try to get a PB in race conditions do a park run.


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