5 Tips for Improving Your 5K Run: Advice from Fergus Crawley

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These tips are a good reminder to boost your cardio training.

A 5K run was one of the central workouts at the 2023 CrossFit Games, testing the speed and cardio endurance of both fields of Individual athletes. However, before the competition started in early August 2023, hybrid athlete Fergus Crawley — who has a world-class baseline of versatility — broke down ways people can run an even faster 5K.

On July 31, 2023, Crawley posted a video to his YouTube channel where he shared five tips on running a faster 5K. The athlete himself is in the midst of training to improve his mile time and has previously notched achievements like successfully lifting the famous Dinnie Stones. Suffice it to say: Crawley knows where he’s coming from with a staple run.

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Here are Crawley’s five essential tips for running an improved 5K:

1. Manage Expectations

Crawley suggested setting reasonable goals and expectations for what an ideal 5K should look like. Everyone’s limits and needs are different based on their personal fitness, life, and overall background, and it’s important not to compare one’s self to others. When in doubt, short-term goals supersede a long-term vision for running.

“[Running] is a skill,” Crawley said. “It’s something we need to develop and be mindful of. It’s important not to compare ourselves with arbitrary numbers or what other people are doing.”

2. Spend Energy Wisely

In order to get the most out of running, Crawley urged creating a diligent plan and tracking it meticulously over the course of a single training week. He explained that the Pareto principle — where 80 percent of the training is easy and 20 percent is moderate or challenging — should be applied. Crawley advised implementing three kinds of running workouts during a single week: Long slows for aerobic capacity, high-intensity sessions for top-level performance, and moderate sessions for 5K endurance. To Crawley, “easy” is an athlete pushing themselves to 70-80 percent of their maximum heart rate. Anything challenging is relatively beyond that threshold.

3. Strength Training

Crawley explained that general strength training can help runners understand how their body works while also improving their running gait. It should be a welcome accompaniment to well-rounded fitness. Crawley’s strength recommendation for enhanced running performance was heavy back squats, trap bar deadlifts, and any single-leg movements.

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4. Commit to a Plan

The more structure an athlete has for their running goals, the more likely they will be able to fit it into their daily lifestyle. It also makes achieving occasional milestones easier with a better focus.

“Commit to that race, join that run club, the athletics club, or sign-up to your local park run community,” Crawley said. “These will give you a goal and a deadline and make you more accountable.”

5. Turn Training Into a Social Opportunity

Crawley’s final bit of advice was that a runner shouldn’t isolate themselves from other people while training. Making friends and socializing can make achieving any running goals that much more gratifying. Crawley explained that he spent much of the past two years training by himself and that it took a toll. In 2023, he’s trained with more people, in turn adding more joy to his process.

Featured image: @ferguscrawley on Instagram

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