If you have just registered for your first 5k, are about to sign up for one of the Zwift Running Series (ZRS) events, or enrolled in a training plan, how do you know at what pace you should start and what time you’re likely to achieve?
If you’ve never run a 5k race, there are various ways you can assess how fast you might be able to run.
The Zwift 5k Test
One option is to run 5k as hard as you can. Zwift has a built in 5k test in the Workouts menu. To do this, log in to Zwift, click Menu and then Workouts. The test includes a warm up and then 5k as fast as you can.
If you have never done this before, be careful not to start too fast and burn yourself out before the end. It’s very difficult to recreate race conditions when you’re running on your own, but do the best you can.
This test will then set up your pace settings for future workouts on Zwift while also giving you a good idea of your current ability over 5k.
Use Other Races
If you have previously raced 10k you might simply divide your time in two and take a little off. So if your 10K time was 50 minutes, you might argue that your 5k time could be just under 25 minutes.
But if you are new to running, it’s unlikely you will have completed a 10k race. Most people start their running careers with short distances and move up as their confidence, fitness, and experience grows.
Furthermore, if you are returning from injury or your previous races were some time ago, they may not be an accurate reflection of your current ability.
Alternative 5k Test
A common method of assessing your 5k capability is to carry out an alternative 5k test. There are a few advantages to this approach:
- You are not required to run an all-out 5k effort in one go
- You get an up to date assessment of your current 5k capability
- You will complete a solid speed training session
Be sure to warm up appropriately. Do some dynamic stretches to release those muscles ready for action, then run a couple of kilometers with progression to raise your heart rate gradually.
You are then going to run 4 miles at an even pace with a rest period after each mile. Your pace should be your best effort, but measured so you can repeat each mile at the same pace.
Take approximately 90 seconds of recovery after each mile effort. Not less than 90 seconds and certainly no more than 2 minutes.
We need to find your average pace for each mile. So if you ran the first mile at 8:05, the second at 8:02, then 7:58 and 7:57, we can round your average pace to approximately 8 minutes per mile.
Your average time for the 4 mile intervals should equate to your current 5k pace. 5 kilometers is 3.1 miles so we can argue that your 5k pace is somewhere between 24 and 25 minutes.
But we can be a little more accurate than that. One-tenth of a mile is 530 feet. At a pace of 8 minutes per mile that would take 48 seconds. Therefore, your 5k time should be approximately 24:48.
Time to Race
You can do all the calculations you want, but when it comes to race day a host of factors come into play which may affect how you perform. You can replicate some of these things in your 5k test.
Monitor what you eat prior to running, how well you sleep, your shoes and clothing, and the terrain you are running on. However, race day nerves and adrenaline play a big part. You also can’t control the weather conditions or crowd congestion if it’s a big race.
Of course, the weather, congestion , and terrain won’t be an issue if you’re racing on Zwift. See you on the start line!