Two decades ago, I began using a 1K time trial workout with my runners to predict potential performances during a training season. Running a timed kilometre provides a reality check on your current goals, helps you determine a safe long-run pace, and gives you a tangible way to track your progress during the season. Plus, it’s relatively easy to do and doesn’t require days of recovery. Pencil it into your schedule every one to three weeks.
Go to a local track or measured path. To warm up: jog for 10 minutes, then do four 100-metre accelerations, gradually picking up speed, holding it, then slowing down; walk for three minutes. For your first 1K attempt, time the entire kilometre at your normal running pace – don’t push it. This will give you a baseline.
Always run the first lap fairly easy so you have the reserves for a strong finish. Allow at least two days of rest and/or easy running after long or fast runs before running the 1K. Several scenarios can stall your progress: starting too fast, inadequate rest and hot weather.
On subsequent attempts, try to improve upon the previous time. Begin slightly slower than your normal pace for the first lap. Gradually speed up so that the final two laps are your fastest. At the conclusion of the final lap, you should feel capable of running no more than a half-lap (or less) at that pace.
Use the time from your most recent 1K to predict your target pace for your next 5K and for your long runs. Add 33 seconds to your kilometre time to get your 5K pace and anywhere from three to five minutes for your long and easy run pace. As your kilometre time improves, adjust these paces as necessary.