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Build Mental Toughness and Running Economy With This 5K Workout

This workout will help you zero in on relaxed speed and build muscular endurance.

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Does the thought of running a 5K take you back to high school and make you immediately want to stop reading this? Here’s a chance to redefine your relationship with your speed. Exploring your 5K effort will improve your running economy and boost your mental chops knowing you’ve got some fire in those feet.

Prep: Do your 3-minute mountain legs while listening to this song.

RELATED: What A 5K A Day For A Month Will Do For You


2 miles easy, 3 x 1 mile at 5k effort with 3 minutes easy recovery between intervals, 2 miles easy

Run 2 miles super easy effort as a warm-up.

Estimate your ideal 5K effort, around where you can’t say more than a few words at once, with every breath going to power working muscles. It might be 12 min/mile or 5 min/mile—it doesn’t matter as long as it’s a pace that feels challenging yet inspiring for you.

Run 1 mile at that effort/pace, focusing on relaxing during the interval, observing how you feel neutrally and positively.

Do a 3 minute easy run afterward, with the option to mix in some walking if needed to recover.

Repeat 2 more times to finish the 5K distance, each time with 3-minute break.

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Check in – how did that feel? Too fast? Too slow? Just right? You should be tired at the end, but not dead on the side of the trail.

Finish up by running 2 miles super easy effort.

David Roche partners with runners of all abilities through his coaching service, Some Work, All Play. With Megan Roche, M.D., he hosts the Some Work, All Play podcast on running (and other things), and they wrote a book called The Happy Runner.