5k time regressing

Graduated some time ago and have run 2/3 times a week ever since. I've even thrown in a few 10k's too!

For a few weeks now, my 5k time has got worse and worse. i can generally run 5k in about 32/33 mins, which for me, is acceptable.

I'm now taking 34/35 mins to complete the same distance. No idea why I'm regressing, just can't figure it out. Went out after work today and did 5k. Took best part of 35 mins. Within a couple of minutes running, I knew I was struggling. Reminded me of when I did week 1 of the programme. Legs like lead, chest tight, just absolutely terrible. I hung in there and finished the run, but felt dreadful.

To put perspective around this, my 5k pace is now a few seconds slower than my 10k pace. Unbelievable.

Has anyone else experienced this deterioration in pace? I'm meant to be improving. Now, instead of enjoying my running, I'm struggling to find motivation because of how terrible I'm feeling through the run itself. 😔

16 Replies

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  • Yes - the exact same thing happened to me. I believe it is because the "thrill" has gone away just a little and , when running by yourself, you don't give it your all!! :) I got down to a 30:40 PB at parkrun - and then went way back out to around 33:00 for some months - until I finally decided to run with the 30 minute pacer on pacer day and stick to him for as far as I could -- turned out that I stuck with him to the last 500 metres and then left him behind - with a PB of 29:16. I am now back to running 35 minute parkruns - deliberately. You don't have to be continually trying to break PB's.

  • Thanks for your reply. I'm really not trying for PB's. I'd just like to see some improvement for the hard work I'm putting in! I'd love to do a park run, but work most weekends, so can't.

  • My home 5k route is cross country and hilly. My best time on this route is about 28 minutes, which I set well over a year ago, but I rarely get below 30 minutes now, even when I try hard. I am sure if I set my heart on matching or beating that PB, then I could, but for me my 5ks are just maintenance runs to keep me fit enough enough for my longer totally indulgent weekend 10k+ runs. So I think I would agree with Bazza, that it is probably to do with motivation.

    If you decided that you were going to beat that time, then I am sure you could apply yourself and do just that. My best time came about soon after doing sprint intervals, so I assume they contributed to my peak, but I did not enjoy them much and rarely do them now. Don't get too hung up on those times, would be my main piece of advice, especially if it is causing you to not enjoy your running. You may be under the weather, more tired or less motivated, all of which you may be able to identify and do something about.

    Keep running, keep smiling.

  • I am the same, my speediest 5k was 18months ago. Recently I've been doing at least one longer run of 10k or so every week and the last time I really pushed my 5k pace it was almost back at that pb. My jog Scotland leader also suggests hills if you want to build your speed up, so maybe a bit of hill repetitions?

  • I have run a 28:43 5k last year but now consistently running 31's does it matter sometimes but on the whole no.

    yeah we would like to run like Mo farah and be faster but it is all relative for us , enjoying running is the real bottom line , for me being better than I was before I started has been my guiding light , with that in mind I have far surpassed what my original goals were :D

  • They r all very good times for the runs, sorry u feel disappointed. My speed goes up and down between 35 and 40 minutes, and I graduated around 5 weeks ago. Is there a reason reducing your time is something u want to aim for? I joined an Improvers running group today and found it very helpful and they will be showing us how to improve speed, doing hill work etc. Could you think about finding a local group. The leaders are often trained in athletics coaching so sure you would pick up some tips

  • I just want to improve gradually, not get worse!! Shift work means no running group... Very frustrating!!

  • If you want to improve your speed then you need to do speed training (intervals / hills). Sounds like you're not enjoying your running much though :(

    A much more experienced runner than myself did once point out to me that with only a focus on speed I'd never end up satisfied and it is massively intense to keep training in that manner. With this in mind, I try to mix my runs up a bit. Some days I think about speed, some distance, some scenery! It will never make me into an elite athlete but it keeps me happy ☺

    Good luck. I hope you find the love again ☺

  • Thankyou. I do mix my runs up, 5k's, longer runs and intervals!! I'm really giving it a go!!

  • I can sense your frustration :(

    Potentially a bit of a left field suggestion but maybe you've over done it and need a rest! If your legs feel like lead they might need a bit of relief.

    I'm also aware of checking my iron levels as I've previously been anaemic. Some sachets of Spatone from Boots generally get me back on track.

  • That's a great shout. Thanks

  • Exactly the same has happened to me. I'm just learning to live with it after trying to (a) work out why and (b) reverse the trend unsuccessfully.

    Maybe you are carrying something physically at low level which you aren't aware of which is affecting you? When you get overtired it can have a huge effect.

    I have tried speed intervals and running on (admittedly not very steep) hills, but they actually make me ill (I have MS - don't know why they affect me so badly, but EVERY time I do it, I get so tired I can't do anything much for a couple of weeks).

    Instead, I try to mix up my runs. Mostly I run about 5k with some walk breaks. Occasionally I'll do a 30 min or a 5k nonstop, and sometimes longer runs up to about 10k really slow with walk breaks.

    I seem to be continually getting slower, but at least I'm still getting out there, and I don't run with anyone or do races. Maybe if I only ran a couple of times a week instead of the 3-4 times I do now I might be able to achieve a better pace, but I run for the 'feel good' factor, because it's the only exercise I actually enjoy (sort of) and to keep toned and a healthy weight, and I feel a bit hard done by if I can't get out for a run. And it's not the end of the world.

    It sounds counter productive, but as suggested above, maybe you need to take a bit of a break and then restart. I usually come back stronger after a good rest.

    Good luck, anyway.

  • You've made some really valid points. I run to try to keep weight at bay after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I do mix my runs up too. I am feeling very tired lately, as in not just tired, but absolutely shattered. Bloods are all ok though, so baffled. If I wasn't off on holiday in 6 weeks I'd seriously consider having a couple of weeks off then getting back in to it. Good luck to you

  • Being utterly shattered is something I am very familiar with, as it is my constant companion due to the MS, and a bummer really as my other symptoms only come in fits and starts. As a result, I have to be even more vigilant about not overdoing it and my body is very good at telling me when I need to rest more. Perhaps I should listen to it better, then my pace might improve! I hate the disease 'defining' me though, so I like to prove to it that I'm the boss. (Sometimes I really am my own worst enemy!!!).

    Enjoy that holiday, and don't get too down on yourself about the running - just think back to how you were before you discovered running, and know that you are and will be so much healthier from now on.

  • Thankyou very much. I'm sure your illness doesn't define you, like mine doesn't with me! I am slimmer and healthier since running and I think I just need to lighten up on myself a bit.

    For you... Consider running 3 times a week maximum, that's still good going. Enjoy your days off as much as the runs you do!

  • Days off = lovely walks, especially at this time of year with all the lovely foliage. Not this afternoon though - yuk weather!

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