At age 47 I ran 5:02 for the mile and 17:46 for 5K. I'm 5'8' 130 lbs. At that time I had been running about 35-45 mpw for several years. Most of my training was middle distance interval work with very little recovery running or base mileage. I ran 53 seconds for 440 yds in high school and kept what I would call "healthy fitness" with a variety of sports between high school and college, but did not focus back on running until I turned 40. In hindsight I definitely would recommend 6 months to a year of easy/moderate pace running to build base and avoid injuries before working on high intensity running for mile training.
For now, I decided to just run 7.5mph x 30min on a treadmill every day. Learning how to pace myself.
I am planning to gradually increase the speed, keeping the same 30 mins overall. But I'll move up slowly.
I do want to add intervals later, something like 1 min X 12.5mph, followed by 3 min X 5mph (5-6 sets). I tried once and liked it, but everyone here seems to be opposing intervals at this point, so I'll wait to make sure I am ready.
While bearing in mind what you wrote about wanting to stay indoors this winter, if you're serious about getting down to 5:00 you need to get of the treadmill at some point -sooner would be preferable to later- and do at least some of your runs outdoors. Running outside is slightly more difficult -which increases the training effect- because the treadmill feeds the belt to you; you'll be activating more muscles outside because you're not running in a restricted, linear pattern; and you'll be dealing with ground reaction forces, which are a form of resistance training mitigated by a treadmill.
You also need to callous yourself a bit to weather conditions which might turn up on race day, such as headwinds. You can't get accustomed to that in the still air of a gym.
Good job so far -the steady runs are a good idea-and best of luck to you.
The main reason is that you don't really come from a running background although when you were younger your times were good.
I last ran a sub 5 mile at the age of 45 and recently at 51 I have run 17:43 for 5k off about 20 miles per week. The reason I can still run is that through years of training I have a large level of muscle memory which means that when I run my efficiency of movement is still high. You will struggle in this capacity.
What your training would need to look like to break 5 based on my own personal experience and as a private coach to a large group. Just my opinion but here you go:
Monday easy 35-40 minute run
Tuesday (track)easy 15 minute run dynamic drills 2x1k threshold efforts at 4 min K pace with 1 min btw efforts 3 min rest then 6x400 at 80 seconds on 2 min cycle (3k pace) 3 min rest 4x200 at 35-37 seconds on 1:30 cycle
Wednesday easy 30-35 minutes
Thursday (grass or dirt) easy warm up with dynamic drills 5x 3 minutes with 90 seconds rest 5k pace 3 minute rest 6x30 seconds with 30 seconds rest
Saturday 7-10k progressive run depending on how you feel
Sunday 60 minutes slow and easy
As you can see not easy training. This would be training and when your close you need just to run for 3-5 months before building up to this type of training.
coach - thanks a lot for your suggestions! Again, 5:00/mile is an aspirational goal to keep me moving. There are too many unknowns - I don't know what my potential was when I was 17 (never trained). And I don't know how much speed I've permanently lost by not running till 43. My plan for the next year is to run & see where I end up. I'll continue running just for the sake of feeling better, that already happened after 2 weeks.
It sounds like you are enjoying the 30 minutes per day at a moderate pace. That is great. If your only goal is fitness and feeling good, keep doing that, maybe throw in some core strengthening and weights once per week. Do not advance to running "hard" for short (under 15 minutes) workouts every day or you will probably just burn out.
If your goal is to be fast at the mile, set up a base by continuing your moderate runs for a while (a month or two). If it is feeling too easy at that point, give yourself to increase the mileage slightly, maybe increase to 40 or 45 minutes a few days a week. After a month or two of that, look into substituting in some intervals some days by reading various training plans.
You also mentioned really liking fast long walks. While that is definitely not the ideal way to train, it isn't without precedence, it was a method used a century or so ago. For example, Paavo Nurmi used long fast walks in his training to set the world record.
While it is hard to imagine that being used by any elite runner today, if you find that running tends to injure you but walking doesn't, I wouldn't be afraid to incorporate it as part of your training.
From what you've told us so far, I bet you are already in 5:30 shape, so sub 5 seems not unrealistic, but it is really hard to predict how you will respond to training, if you will stick with it, etc.
I'm 41 and have been training for about 15 months more or less consistently (with various breaks for life reasons, work, feeling slightly injured, etc.) Recent results include a couple of 19:40ish 5ks and a 5:23 mile
I trained consistently for about the same length of time at age 42-43, averaging about 40 miles per week, with speedwork, long runs, etc. My best mile during that time was 5:06.
I had a running background (in my teens and early 20s, off-and-on after that), and really expected to still easily go sub-5. My lifetime best was 4:45 at age 17, but speed can really decline a lot, even in one's early 40s. I remember running hill sprints with my 15-year-old son, and he would accelerate past me as if I were standing still.
Of course, talent and genetics are a huge component. I managed 5:06 for a single mile, but there were a number of local masters running that pace for 5K's. My 5K at the time (age 43) was 17:10 versus sub-16:00 for the "fast old guys." If the OP has the necessary latent talent, stays healthy, and trains like a miler, he has a shot at sub-5. But not too likely in his late 40s.
Regardless where I end up time-wise and speed-wise, I have to report that I feel MUCH BETTER after just 2 weeks of running,
I have a high pace job in consulting, and it was taking me at least 30-60 mins + some coffee/ diet coke just to get my brain jump-started appropriately in the morning.
Now I am spending about the same time running and I feel more productive. No more coffee. This is amazing. It looks like running is becoming a no-brainer for me.
This is an important point, whatever comes of your attempt at 5:00 (and I'm taking my own crack at 5:00 over the next 6 months). When I started running I suddenly had a reason to leave the office as early as I could, and I discovered that I was trading low-quality work time when I could barely think straight for time to run, and in return I have way more energy and stamina for dealing with everything else, including work.
I definitely lost some top speed as well. I played soccer a few times about a year ago and it was eye-opening. Back in the teens if two were running for a ball together, I'd be the first on the ball quite often. A year ago it was embarrassing against young guys.
Regarding "fast walk" - my plan is to resort to it when tired or pre-injury. Fast walk puts less strain on my body. It's definitely an easier effort for me to walk 5mph with 5% incline vs running 7.5mph flat.
Alex as part of fitness I would continue with the treadmill incline walking. As I only run 20 miles per week I start my treadmill 20 minute sessions with incline walking at 13-15% at 5.7k per hour pace. My 20 min progressive run starts off with HR in the 120's and by the end it is near threshold at around 155 or slightly above.
In order to run a fast mile speed is not going to be the issue. Your stamina and aerobic threshold will be your limiter. Work on this before speed. In order to run sub 5 your threshold running needs to be at 6 minutes a mile and if you can sustain this for 20 minutes don't attempt mile as sub 5 min won't happen.
As I started running on a treadmill I am watching my running technique. What I discovered is that walking feels natural up until 5.3mph or so. Running feels natural from 8.5mph and above. Running between 5.3mph and 8mph feels strange. The amount of lateral movement is the same at 7.5mph and 9mph, so I am probably more efficient running at 9mph.
I tried to minimize my lateral movement at 7.5mph. But it develops a weird technique that's clearly not scalable to accomodate for higher speeds.
Q1. Should I even bother about 7.5mph efficiency if my goal is to eventually run at 10-12mph?
Also, I clearly realized that at any speed I am not limited by my legs as much as by my lungs. The legs feel like they may go twice further with the same speed when the lungs give up.
Q2. How should this legs/lungs impalance impact my training?
Don't focus on one training speed. You can and should train with some variety, if only to keep it interesting for yourself. Build endurance through longer aerobic efforts (nothing like marathoners, but these do need to be longer than 30 minutes if they're going to have an impact), build stamina through tempo efforts (~20 minutes at threshold pace), and build speed through short intervals. If you want to race some 5ks then you'll probably want to do some km and mile intervals as well.
Don't neglect strength training either. As you leave your 30s behind, muscle starts disappearing. Put some heavy weights on a bar and squat it or pull it off of the ground in any form of deadlift you feel works for you.
The two biggest hurdles are dedication and health. It sounds like you can commit to this effort, but make sure your body can keep up with your goals. Don't rush the process. You will lose so much progress if you have to ease off training for a few months. Warm up well, and don't just blast short intervals until your legs feel ready for action.
I have to say I enjoy intervals more, so I added 10mph/3min & walk / 3min (5 cycles for 30 mins total) on some days instead of 7.5mph / 30 min. 10mph pace is not really pushing legs too hard, so I don't see much risk of injury with this routine.
I am curious to try a 6 min mile as the first goal and I feel I could possibly make it now, at least on a treadmill. But I want to give my body another couple weeks to adapt before I try.
I am not doing 12.5 mph intervals at this time to protect my legs, though I am very interested to add them in a couple of months.
The 7.5mph / 30 mins days are the hardest for me mentally as it feels a bit "boring". I am not used to running that long.
I hear a lot of good suggestions to run longer, but for now I'll stick to 30 mins and up the speed somewhat soon, keeping it interesting for myself. I feel that mentally I am more prepared for very painful 5 mins vs a moderately uncomfortable hour.
Once I gain more speed, it will become more interesting to run longer.
As I go to the gym every day now, I started to hit weights for the upper body. Doing it after the run for now. I will start Squats & such later - protecting my legs from too much exposure for now.
Thanks for following my story and your suggestions.
Today I surprisingly completed a 6-min mile on a treadmill.
Yesterday was the first down day (no training) since I started 3 weeks ago. Today I got back to the treadmill planning to do my 10mph/3min intervals. But I felt very "fresh" after the first 3 minutes and decided to keep running. Surprisingly, 4th minute felt like 3rd, and then 5th minute felt like 4th. The 6th minute got a bit harder, but I could clearly still run longer (or a bit faster). I stopped after 6 minutes very excited - no pain, not much strain to speak of and HR only 158 (I hit an extreme 189 HR 3 weeks ago running at 12.5mph).
Then, I walked 3 minutes and did a 3 min interval at 10mph. This time my HR went to 178, so clearly I couldn't do another 6-min mile again. Then I rested for another 3 mins and finished with an easy 7.5mph/30min run.
I was extremely surprised with no deterioration between minute 2 and minute 5.
I was also surprised that I could run 10mph for so long with no pain or major discomfort.
My 17 yo 800m and 3000m fastest runs were full of pain towards the end. Nothing like that today at 43, which makes me feel I can run faster if I push harder.
I really liked the earlier advice to try different speeds during my run. What I am now planning to do daily for a while is to start with 10mph/6min, then walk for 3 mins, and then finish with 7.5mph/30 mins.
I have to say I got really excited. Now I can feel it wouldn't be extremely embarrassing to sign up to one of those 5Ks in spring/summer and get my time recorded. I also strongly feel that I can keep improving for now as I didn't push myself to the limits.
What is your height / weight and what was it in High School?
At this point you can do anything for a six week period consistently and improve. As time goes on you have to get a little more crafty. You say you never get injured but you can't get injured if you are not doing anything. Now you are over 40. You definitely can get injured and will if you are not smart about your training. Honestly, I don't work with many master level runners because you are so injury prone.
The basics are not to increase everything all at once. I would slowly bring your volume up over a six month period to around 40-50 miles per week. You can continue the treadmill up hill fast walking just as a non impact but stressful workout. You need to be patient.
Most of your gains will be because of regular runs at a medium effort. Not exciting but it's the truth.
Remember also that if you are not getting adequate sleep, eating properly, hydrating, etc.. you are opening yourself up to slower gains and injury.
- I was 5'10 - 150 in HS. I am 5'11 - 157 now. I started at 160 but dropped 3lb in 3 weeks of running.
My current weight is the same as it was at 25 (not that I have the same body of course). I've never been over ~165 in my entire life.
- I am very concerned about being injured. I've seen a lot around me injured. The lack of past injuries is actually a liability as I may not feel the risk adequately.
- I subjectively feel that running at 10mph is "safe" as it doesn't strain the legs too much. My lungs would probably give up first before I hurt my legs. But for that reason I am not planning to run faster than 10mph until I build a pretty good base.
- I am absolutely not running w/o a good sleep & stretching & water. If my job pushes me too hard I will move to incline walking on those days.
Question back to you: is 10mph x 6 mins, then walk x 3 mins, then 7.5mph x 30 mins routine too risky to continue in my situation? I realize that I may go against the wisdom here, but running an hour at 7.5mph may be harder for me mentally as it's less "exciting".
A 5 minute mile past 40 isn't a huge ask if you had the speed to do it at one point. I would have guessed that you would have had about 4:45 in capability in high-school when you were relatively untrained, so at least 4:30-35 trained, if not quicker. At 40, I was quicker at a mile than I was at age 17, having raced throughout the intervening years.
I lost some time with age, but I think I ran about 4:42 at 46 (not much slower than what I ran at 17/18), 4:59 on road at 49, and just on 5:00 equivalent for 1500m on track at 53 (only two days after a 5000m).
I think you have time to play with - both in your basic level of talent and in a few years before serious age decline sets in. I would make it a two year, or even two-and-a-half year plan, which gives you a chance to get there without injury.
You have to keep in mind that you're "engine" - the cardio-vascular systems - will develop quicker than the "chassis" the muscular-skeletal structure, which is where the danger lies.
I think you could get fit more quickly with intensive training, but there is a good chance on getting injured before you ever get where you want to be. I would spend most of the next 12 months developing "the running body" and just gradually building some aerobic background, and just throwing some easy strides into runs to wake up the fast twitch. It might sound crazy, but even something like a 12-week "couch to 5k" program might be a good start for someone who hasn't had a running background. Running the odd 5k on a program like that would give you some competitive fun on the way.
I've no doubt that you have the natural ability - genetics, cardio, biomechanics - to run well under 5:00. I think you've got enough buffer that it's not even going to kill you to do it, everything is going to depend on getting steadily fit enough without long-term injury.