How to PR in the 5K for Beginning Runners

As a new runner, the running bug has probably bitten you. Maybe you started running for weight loss or general health, but after a while, you started to crave each and every run.

Soon your friend convinced you to sign up for your local 5K—your first race. Maybe you had no idea what to expect or you weren't sure how you'd race. Nevertheless, you made it through and finished well.

Now you're asking yourself, "How do I get even faster?"

Luckily, beginning runners can get faster much more quickly than veteran runners, who have to work hard for mere seconds of improvement. You just have to adapt the right training philosophy and tweak some things that you're already doing to break through your fitness plateau and set a new personal best.

More: How Do I Get Faster for My Next Race?

PR Principle #1: Consistent Strides

No matter what race you're training for, strides will help (yes, even for the marathon). For a short race like the 5K, strides are essential to getting faster.

They help you develop more efficient running form, boost your stride power, and make other paces seem downright easy. They also help you loosen up after a slower distance run, and help make the transition to faster workouts a lot easier.

Strides are accelerations about 100 meters long. Start at a jog, increase your speed to about 95 percent of your max, and then gradually slow down until you're walking. One stride should take about 20 to 30 seconds.

Take about 45 to 90 seconds of walking or standing in between each one to catch your breath and prepare for the next stride. While strides are fast (95 percent of your max is a controlled sprint), they're very short so they shouldn't be too difficult. Stay relaxed and remember: strides should be fun.

More: 4 Speed Workouts for Beginners