How To Train For A 5k Run (part 1)

Find out how Bakewell Personal Trainers quest to run a sub 20 minute 5k is going after 12 weeks of training

I have set myself a very personal challenge for 2022 - to run a sub 20 minute 5k. I wrote all about why I chose this goal and how I plan to do it - click here to read.

As I approach the later stages of my first 12 week phase of training I thought it could be interesting to reflect on the lessons I've learnt.

So first off let me give you a brief recap on what my first phase of training involved...

Phase 1 - Base Training

Duration = 12 weeks
Strength sessions per week = 5
Runs per week = 3 (progressively building the distance each week all at sub 147bpm heart rate)
Recovery weeks = every 4th week (to give the body time to recoup and repair)
Purpose =To build an aerobic engine and strength and resilience throughout my body

Since Christmas I have completed a total of 54 Strength training sessions and 31 Runs covering 282km.


I will split my reflection into 4 sections:

1. Running
2. Strength Training
3. Wellbeing
4. Life


The biggest take home from the last 12 weeks of running is how much I enjoyed running according to a precise aerobic threshold heart rate zone. In the past I would go out for an 'easy' run and adjust my pace based on feel/perceived effort. What I now realise is that my old 'easy' runs where not easy enough. Running under a heart rate of 180-age requires a mixture of slow running and walking (up hills). As a result I have found every kilometre of the 282 I have ran since Christmas incredibly enjoyable. Each run has been more of a jog/hike rather than a 'run' - almost like movement meditation. Time will tell how this aerobic base building will influence my speed in the weeks to come. But in terms of enjoyment for running it has been a revelation!

Strength Training

There were two primary goals for my time in the gym over the last 12 weeks - injury prevention and aesthetics.

1. Injury Prevention: I really hope this does not put the kiss of death on it but... My persistent calf issues that I have been struggling with over the last 3 years seem to have gone! My focus for 80% of my time spent in the gym has been to maximise functional strength through deep/multiple ranges of motion. I have rarely picked up a barbell and instead focused predominantly on unilateral work using dumbbells and so far it seems to be working

2. Aesthetics: Along with the goal of running a sub 20 minute 5k I also wanted to put muscle on and drop body fat. Here's how I got on...

As you can see from my InBody data I didn't get off to the best start. After the first 22 days I'd put on weight, gained next to no muscle and lost no body fat. However, I knew my body was adjusting and I had faith in the plan. I genuinely think my body was in shock by how much I ramped up my training and in truth I wasn't paying too much attention to my food/drink. It wasn't until February that I really started to focus on my nutrition and that had a significant impact. Just 2 months later and I've put on almost 1kg of muscle and lost 2.6kg body fat. My body fat percentage is down by 3% and my visceral fat levels are down from 7 to 5. And probably my favourite stat of all is my basal metabolic rate has increased - which basically means I can eat more!!!


At first I was tired and more irritable. That lasted about 1 month before I settled into the training and sorted my nutrition out. Since February however, I have felt on the whole really good. I'm rarely tired during the day even though my training has significantly increased. I'm generally more enthusiastic, my sleep score is averaging 10% better compared to January (according to Garmin). I know I look better and that feels good - I have more pride and confidence in my physical appearance. Historically I crave sweet things after dinner but that has definitely got better and I have less desire for my biggest vice... Alcohol on Friday and Saturday nights. So overall I feel really good.


What with training so much it definitely requires more planning (exercise and nutrition) and if I'm not careful can take it's toll on family life, which is the last thing I want! For example, my 2 year old does not sleep well. My wife is up at least 3 times per night with him, which means from 6am I take over so my wife can catch up on a couple of hours of sleep. Normally I would try and get out for a 7am run but since February (when my 2 year old's sleep became really bad) I've had to knock the 7am run on it's head and go out later instead. That in turn affects my working day and nutritional timing.

The lesson I have learnt from this is training and nutrition will always be compromised for family. But I've tried to be resilient and find another way, which I think I've managed well. So as I refine my next 12 week phase of training I am factoring in the possibility of not being able to get out for a run before work. Instead I'll aim to get it in at lunch or when the kids are in bed - given the nights are getting lighter this should be easy to do.

All in all I am really pleased with how the first 12 weeks of base training has gone. I've only missed 2 days of training, which I caught back up over the following days with a couple of triple days, which were brutal but I got it done.

What's Next?

Next up is my 12 week 'PREP' phase, which will consist of power development and strength maintenance in the gym. For my running I will be performing one tempo, one interval and one easy run each week (each weeks duration and or intensity will build on the last). My biggest concern going onto this phase is calf injuries as I build up the intensity of my runs... So wish me luck!

Speak soon,


PS I'd love to hear how you are getting on with your training. Drop me a DM on instagram to let me know or to ask any questions you have about training, programming, running or aesthetics.

Click here to DM me on Instagram

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