A magical sub-16 minute 5k

Ever since I got back into running as an adult I took the time to understand what the people I’d ran with during my teens had gone onto achieve. A lot of them had gone on to run some awesome times and finish high up in some really top races.

I was, admittedly, very jealous of what they’d gone on to achieve and during those years of not running was no doubt a bit bitter that it wasn’t me running as fast as they were. Of course my jealousy was irrational as everyone deserves success if they’ve put the work in.

However being given this chance to run competitively again I’ve used all their achievements as real motivation to try and get the best out myself. Using others’ successes as motivation was never more abundantly clear than when it came to trying to improve my 5km personal best.

All the lads I knew that went on to become good runners post-teenage years all ran 5km in under 16 minutes. It was easy to obtain this information from the powerof10 website (a data base of race results for all UK club affiliated athletes). I set out on my quest to match this target and first started thinking about it in around 2014. Based on my times shown in the graph above in 2002 I ran an 18:05 5km (possibly as a training run?) and then didn’t race it again until 2009 when I ran 19.35 at a Parkrun. Between the years of 2012 to 2017 I slowly chipped away at my time.

Having ran 16:03 in April I knew I was nearing sub-16. However my training over the summer had been very much speed based focusing on 1500m/mile with a good finishing kick. I knew as the summer wore on that my top end speed was good but perhaps as a result my endurance might we weaker as none of my training really addressed endurance work over this period.

In mid-August I ran a road 5km race in Ipswich and ran 16:14. It came as a bit of a surprise as I didn’t quite think I’d go that quick. As a result it meant I decided I needed to have one more crack at sub-16 on the track before the summer was out.

5 days after Ipswich I toed the line for a 5000m race at Wimbledon track. I penned onto my hand the splits I needed to run for sub-16. As a member of the Soar 6 I’d earned a nick name of Alex ‘metronome’ Hobley. This was based on my ability to run the times on the track during sessions at exactly the pace the coaches asked us to do our training sessions in. Well this skill proved useful as I ran the first 7.5 laps of the track and hit 3km bang on 15:50 pace. At 4km I’d fallen about 6 seconds off 15:50 pace and was feeling a bit on the edge. With a lap to go I saw the clock and knew if I kept it together I’d be under 16 minutes. Using the last lap speed I’d developed through all the summer’s 1500m work I pulled off a 69 second last lap and overtook a couple of Highgate Harriers runners. Finishing the race in 15:49 it was mission complete and I could finally put to bed all my thoughts about how much I wanted to run sub-16. I felt ecstatic!




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