Want to run a faster 5K in 2022? Try this 10-20-30 interval training method

If you'd like to improve your 5K time then add this interval session to your running training

Woman running a 5K outdoors
(Image credit: Getty)

The 5K is one of the most popular running distances for runners of all abilities. With programs like the Couch to 5K plan helping people to run this distance, many people will be left wondering what next once they conquer it. If increasing distance doesn't appeal to you then your next step might be to increase your 5K time.

Running can be a great form of exercise that gets results quickly. Whether that's burning fat, improving endurance, or strengthening muscle, many people find it a rewarding hobby. What's better, is it's free for everyone. You just need some suitable footwear - like the best running shoes for women or the best running shoes for men.

If you want to increase your speed then it might be time to switch up your running training. You needn't worry about increasing your mileage as the participants in the following study actually reduced theirs to gain impressive results.

A study published in the Journal of Physiology revealed that a form of interval running known as the 10-20-30 training could speed up your 5K time. The research was carried out at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and recruited 18 runners to adopt this 10-20-30 training, reducing their training mileage by 50%. 

After a 7-week period of training like this, results revealed that runners who adhered to this training method improved their 1,500m time by 21 seconds and their 5K time by 48 seconds.

Man out for a run training for a 5K

(Image credit: Getty)

In addition to this, they also saw improvements in their overall health after they followed this training. Both blood pressure and cholesterol were lowered among the runners.

It can be frustrating when you push yourself on a run only to check your time at the end and it is your usual minutes or sometimes even a fraction slower. It's no wonder the researchers were surprised to see such a large improvement in the runners' times.

Professor Jens Bagsbo who led the research said, "We were very surprised to see such an improvement in the health profile, considering that the participants have been running for several years," he continued, "The results show that intense training has a great potential for improving the health status of already trained individuals."

How does the 10-20-30 training method work

To complete the 10-20-30 workout you need to complete a five-minute running period consisting of five consecutive one-minute intervals: each minute must include 30 seconds of easy running, 20 seconds of moderate-intensity running, and 10 seconds of running at maximum intensity. You will repeat this circuit three to four times.

Note, the runners for the study above replaced all regular training sessions with three weekly sessions of the 10-20-30 training in addition to regular endurance training. Endurance training can be any type of aerobic activity that increases your heart rate and breathing so perhaps you add working out on a best elliptical machine to your weekly training.

It is also important to mention that this training is pretty demanding and not everyone will be of a running ability or fitness level to manage this. 

But this isn't to say you can't boost your 5K time because of this. Any type of interval training can be helpful for increasing physical performance such as HIIT style workouts. Why not invest in a pair of best cross-training shoes to help keep your training versatile.

Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 

When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.