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What gains can I expect?

Dear Run Coach
My name is Eric Gallos and I am a high school cross country runner. After coming off a disappointing junior season I am desperate to improve dramatically for my senior season. My current personal best in a 5k race is 18 minutes. Now, I understand that this is a mediocre time, but i am 100% sure that i have much more to bring to the table. I have only participated in two years of XC, but both of the two years i have struggled with stress fractures and shin splints(both injuries from working beyond a breaking point). Now, my question is this, realistically how much time off my 5k can I shed; I am willing to train starting now until next year.

p.s. I currently am recovering from a nasty stress fracture. (before my injury I had been running 10 miles per day)

Eric Gallos
  1. Run Coach says:

    Hi Eric,

    You sound very positive about your ability to ‘bring more to the table’ which is a perfect place to start.

    To improve from 18 minutes should not be difficult if you have a good program. Assuming your recovery from your stress fracture is complete, which I would highly suggest you allow to happen, you can easily drop 30 seconds within a couple of months of quality training. This would mean improving from 3:36/km to 3:30/km.

    Anything faster than this will take longer, as you get nearer to your potential the gains will come slower than if you were just starting out. It may take a year to drop from 20 mins to 18 mins but then will take another year to drop to 17 mins and another year to drop to 16m30s.

    Allowing for good training and injury free running, I would think about setting your sights on the 17 minute mark this year.

    Best of luck with the training, feel free to let us know when you hit your goals.

    Train Well


Speed Training


I’ve read lots about how speed work can help improve my 10k time, should I make all of my sessions interval-based if I want to get faster quickly?


  1. James says:

    Incorporating intervals in your training is great for getting faster although you need to balance your weekly training so that you have one hard interval session per week along with a tempo/race pace run and a more steady paced longer (10km+) run.

    If you went to all speed work too early you would find the strress on the joints and muscles may lead to injuries so I would suggest a month of once a week and then alternate one or two speed sessions every second week from there.

    It is wise to go through cycles of speed work where you might take 2-4 weeks away from fast work to let the legs recover and then come back to it with fresh legs.

    Hope that helps!


Question about Running

Chris says:


I would like to run a marathon. Please tell me how many hours training per week I need?



  1. gretchen says:

    Hi Chris,

    The number of hours per week will grow steadily from when you start training at around 3 or 4 hours per week and in the last few weeks before the marathon you would be running somewhere around 8-10.

    As long as the volume builds up gradually over time your legs will get stronger, as a general rule aim to increase each week by no more than 10% but it is worth bearing in mind that the TYPE of sessions you do each week is probably more important than simply the number of hours that you run.

    If you’re after more info on these session types have a look at our e-book “How to Train Smarter and Run Faster” and remember all RunCoach programs incorporate these ideas into your personalised running program.

    Train Well!

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