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Workout Wednesday: 5K time trial

Runner in the ParkYou’ve run intervals, fartleks, hills and tempos and you’re now feeling fitter and faster than ever before. It’s time to see test your fitness and see how your training is paying off.

As simple as it sounds, the goal of a time trial is to run a set distance, in this case 5K, as fast as you can. If done honestly, this will give you a good indication of your current fitness and help you plan for future training.

Unlike an organized race, with elements and details out of your control, a time trial allows you to choose what course to run, at what time of day and you’ll have only yourself to compete with.

Ideally you’ll pick the best time of day when weather and conditions are optimal. You can find the flattest, fastest section of road, trail or track, or find one which mimics an upcoming race. In order to run the right distance, you can either measure the course beforehand (using an online mapping tool) or plan to use a GPS watch.

As for the workout itself, aim to warm up for 10-15 minutes before the time trial to prepare for the stress of running hard and fast.

Once you’re ready, run 5K as fast as you can. Be sure to pace yourself properly and not start out too fast. The first and final K will likely be your fastest splits, but not by much more than the others. A 5K is meant to be hard so expect to run outside your comfort zone. This is an invaluable skill and one that requires practice.

Once you finish and catch your breath, try to cool-down for another 10-15 minutes by walking or jogging slowly. This will aid in and hasten your recovery.

If run honestly, the time you run your trial in will tell you a lot about your current fitness. This can help determine your future training paces and race goals as well as validate all the hard work you’ve put in.