Monday, June 28, 2010

5K: how fast will I get and how quickly can I get that fast - huh?

I started running again last year, so I expected to see improvements in my times by now. The only distance I've run consistently enough to have an idea of how my times are trending is 5K. I like 5K's, because they are a near maximal effort. So, running a 5K can be a useful index of your fitness or physical condition. Plus, you usually get a good t-shirt or tech shirt and some of your fee goes to a charity of some sort. Pretty cool, all around.

So, I have run four 5K races since the beginning of last November, and when I looked at the results of those four races, it was gratifying to see that each one showed marked improvement over the one before. Here are the dates and my time for the four races:

Nov 07, 2009 25:11
Nov 27, 2009 24:31
May 01, 2009 22:01
Jun 20, 2009 21:20
The improvement works out to about 26 seconds improvement per month from November through June, and I'm pretty proud of that, but it brings up another question. How long can I possibly keep up this rate of improvement. I'm guessing I will never run 5K's in under 16 minutes, especially since I'm over 40 years old, so I assume I will reach a limit at some point. But will I just continue to improve at this rate until I approach a speed plateau, or can I expect my improvements to come more slowly over time in the future? How long will be be before I can run a 5K in under 20 minutes? Will that ever happen?

I'm curious about what the progress curve usually looks like for middle and long distance runners in moderate condition once they start training in earnest. I guess I'll be my own experimental subject for this one, and just see how it goes.

How long does it take the tortoise to become the hare?

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