5 Tips to Help You Progress From a 25-Minute 5K to a Sub-15 Minute Performance


, by Nick Bester

Photography by: Izf

Run coach Nick Bester has spent a lot of time developing programs for athletes to help them improve their times over a variety of distances. The advice he gives them comes from his own experience. But what are the key things that Coach Nick has learned during his progression from a 25-minute 5K down to a sub-15-minute performance? He shares them below.

Do this 2-minute routine after every run

In an ideal world, we would like to set aside time for strength sessions within our training week. However, life can be incredibly busy for lots of us, so doing this small workout after every single run goes a very long way to improve your run speed.

When you first get into running, small injuries or niggles tend to occur while your body adapts to handling the load and impact that running places on it.

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Doing this quick sequence of exercises just puts a tiny bit more strain on your muscles, allowing them to rebuild and helping you to become a stronger runner. It takes 2-3 minutes to do after your run and that’s it. You won’t see changes overnight. However, after weeks, months, and years of consistently doing these exercises, you will notice a big difference.

My post-run exercise routine is as follows:

  • 10 jump lunges

  • 12 jump squats

  • 10 calf raises on each leg

The only time I don’t do this is if I have a race the next day and I want to be fresh. Or if I know I have a weighted strength workout later that day.

Mobility and core exercises are a key component for staying healthy. Photography by: Drobot Dean

The importance of a daily 15-minute core and mobility routine

My daily core and mobility routine takes 10-15 minutes… and that’s it. It’s a routine that allows you to become physically stronger and mentally rejuvenate. It’s something I never did in my early years of running, but once I did more research, I realized how valuable these routines are.

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Running is a very straight, forward and backward motion. So it’s important that we add in some extras around our running, increasing our mobility and efficiency, and building a stronger core.

I spend about 5 -10 minutes a day doing light strength work, stretching, mobility, and core work. Followed by 5 minutes of foam rolling. Do it with a purpose, focusing on tight areas.

Below is a variation of my routine if you would like to follow along and see what it’s all about:

Set mini goals, don’t look too far ahead.

Had you told me back when I was running 5K in over 25 minutes that I would one day break 15 minutes, I probably would’ve laughed at you. Had I targeted it back then, I probably would’ve fallen very short, become deflated, and potentially given up.

However, setting mini goals every year and trying to shave off just 1-2 minutes at a time is the best way to go about it. I always try to celebrate the small wins in life. When you add up all these small wins and look back at things, they can often make a substantial difference.

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Yes, it’s important to set goals, but it’s also important to be kind to yourself and celebrate achievements when you do smash your goal. There’s a lot of work that goes into it and I’ve seen this mistake with many runners - they get their target time and immediately look forward to the next one, without first thanking themselves for the hard work that’s gone into it.

Break it done one minute at a time, seconds at a time, one goal at a time, and train for it.

Don’t be scared to race and put yourself out of your comfort zone

Racing can be scary. The truth is it always hurts, every single time. And the truth is that it doesn’t get any easier. You just become accustomed to dealing with the pain a little bit better and learn how to recover faster.

Don’t be scared to push yourself to your limits. The more you push your body in these harder efforts, the better you feel afterwards.

Sometimes when you put in a hard race effort, you're proud of the result. However, on other occasions, you might not be happy with your time. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead, focus on those races where everything comes together and the time reflects this. These are the races that make all that hard work and tough days of training truly worthwhile.

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When you enjoy your running good results come

Sometimes your motivation levels are high and running comes easy to you. Other times you might find yourself unmotivated and struggling to get out for a run. It’s important to accept these emotions, listen to your body, and deal with them correctly.

It’s happened to me in the past. I have had periods where I have forced my training and stopped enjoying it. When this happens, work through these levels of low motivation and do something else instead, as better and easier days always lay ahead.

Make sure you enter running races - and enjoy them! Photography by: tsuguliev

By listening to your body, you often come out the other side hungry and ready to train harder than ever before with higher levels of motivation, allowing you to consistently nail training, week in and week out - that’s when the good results come.

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I’ve run my best when I’m enjoying my running, and appreciating the physical and mental benefits the sport gives you. Good results have been and always will be a bonus.

I hope these tips can help you like they’ve helped me.

Now let’s put in the work and go get those PBs!

Onwards and upwards,

Coach Nick

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