Couch to 5K
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Running Buddies or Running Lone Wolf?

Hi everyone,

I've been giving this quite a lot of thought lately as I've plateaued on times.

Quick bit of background: Graduated on running the 30 mins back in October 2013. First 5k was just over 35 minutes about 2 weeks after, last November (2014) I got to 31:32 for the 5k. I still run at least twice, usually 3 times a week and I'm now in training for Tri for Life (September at Woburn Abbey) in the sprint triathlon where the finish is a 5km run.

My challenge is that I don't seem able to get faster, and it's becoming a bit annoying.

I've trained up to the 10k to see if extra stamina will help me out, I've tried doing a speed session a week (both the speed podcast and also a more strenuous variant). I've tried running to a metronome beat of 170bpm (there was a cadence post before, and naturally I would be about 158-160, so the extra footstrikes should have helped time-wise).

What I'm now considering is what for me would be the nuclear option - do I find a run buddy, and would they be able to push me on if I did?

Is it just a case of either wanting to run with someone or not, or has anyone chosen the option that was uncomfortable for them and did it make a positive difference?

8 Replies

Try fartlek training that should do it, google it


Where are you running these 5K's?? I have been a bit like you - thinking that I had plateaued - but a very fast 10K run in a "proper" race where most were trying very hard surprised me with an unexpected time . A subsequent hard push at a local Parkrun 5K confirmed the pace and that I had not plateaued at all -- just plateaued during training.

This morning I went for an easy 5K run at a deliberately slow pace of 8 mins per K -- in spite of it being almost 2 minutes per K slower than my parkrun last week, I found it to be quite a tiring run (Physically, not lungs wise) Races seem to get the best out of us - whereas training runs can be a bit of a drag!! :)


Yeah I think you may have hit on something there Bazza.

I ran in one race last summer that I paid to enter (there is a three race 5k series in Leicester), and at that time (July) I ran 32:35. So maybe the point is that I should enter more races rather than complete a lot of training with only a distant objective.

Unfortunately Parkrun doesn't fit into my family commitments very well, but the summer series will be here again soon and I can aim for that.


One of the "faults" that I see with Parkrun is that people attempt to get a PB every week - and then I see a lot of injured Parkrunners.

If you look at most 5K race training programmes , you can see that they are about 8 weeks long - this tells me that parkrun PBs should only be attempted every 8 weeks after training :)

I follow jack Daniels training methods , do his programmes in his book and use his pace calculator I understand that he only allows his runners to train at paces commensurate ( as per the calculator) with their latest race result and if they want to train at a faster pace, they have to improve their race results first!!

For example, I was doing klm repeats at a pace of 6:50 mins per K but now with my latest race result , I should and will be doing them 30 seconds per klm faster.


Hi Andrew,

some of us run best when we can set the pace to push ourselves, others benefit from having a running buddy. I think it is a very individual choice.

I'm sure you will have read that the only way to learn to run faster is to run faster. I would suggest you make one of your weekly runs a 5 km fast interval run. Run 1 km gently, then do 8 intervals of 1 min really fast followed by 2 min really slow. The fast sections should be so fast that when you get to 59 seconds you don't think you can run this fast for the last second, but they mustn't be so fast that have to stop and walk.

Make another of your weekly runs a more relaxed interval: 1 km at your normal running speed, 1 km at a pace of 1 minute/km faster (so if you normally spend 35 minutes = 7 min/km, then run this section at 6 min/km), 1 km normal, 1 at pace and finally the last km at your normal relaxed pace.

Do this for 2-4 weeks, and I almost guarantee that you will see a noticeable improvement in your 5k time.

Happy running

1 like

Hi Tomas,

Yes I started going down this route with fast 1km intervals followed by 2 minutes rest, and I can sustain sub-6 minutes for the first 3 km and am them what I shall politely term "very tired".

I was wary of too many interval sessions in one week due to the extra strain/injury risk, but maybe I should go speed-easy stamina-speed and see how that works out over a couple of weeks

Thanks for your reply


Don't worry... I seem to be getting slower with every run!!! ;)


We graduated at roughly the same time and I haven't set a 5k PB since last June, so you are not the only one who seems to have plateaued. I have however set PBs for particular regular routes, which I find encouraging and also easy to assess, knowing roughly what my timing should be at any particular point. SteveL has just posted about setting his Garmin to a target pace and that is a relatively simple way to knock a few seconds off a PB, if you are not too ambitious.

Having been injured and with reduced running through the winter months, I have not been too bothered about my out and out pace, just about getting somewhere in the vicinity of where I was pre injury. I am confident that I will set some new PBs at some time in the future, but am just grateful that I can still run.

Keep running, keep smiling.


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