An important part of getting faster is understanding the difference between quantity and quality in runs. “People think if you just run more than you are now, more volume and longer runs, then you’ll see the subsequent improvement you’re looking for. That’s not necessarily the case,” says 2002 U.S. 5000m champ Alan Culpepper. “If you’re a 25-mile-a-week runner, you’re better off keeping your volume consistent, and adding in quality sessions at your goal race pace to really ensure that your body has adapted to race scenarios.”
Since the 5K is still a relatively short distance, there’s a tendency to focus on speed work without having a strong aerobic base. Culpepper instead suggests a 12-week program with the first half spent focusing on volume and consistency, and the second half transitioning to faster pace work that will help you put the "icing on the cake."
Key Workout: Run 3-8 minute windows of your normal runs at faster than race pace. Getting out of your comfort zone for short sustained periods, rather than high mileage at slower pace, will help you adapt to race scenarios and reach your goal.