Sticking with a plan
Sticking with a plan and staying on track can be hard when you have seen so much progress going from 0 to 5km in a relatively short period of time as you may just want to run and run and run. It takes a lot of discipline to hold back rather than just pushing forward and trust me, you risk injury if you try to go further than your body is ready for. If you have just started running your training age may still be fairly young and if you have been running for a while now, your body may need to adapt to a new plan or regime. Try not to get too excited about your new goal because if you push it too much you could become fatiqued and this can lead to injury. Which brings me onto the next point, stay alert and listen to your body, do you have any aches of pains that weren't there a couple of weeks ago. Do these aches and pains get worse when you run, have you done anything differently, when was the last time you bough trainers, have you got new trainers that have affected your gait? Just by asking some simple questions you can usually establish the cause of any aches and pains, there is a fine line between just normal muscle ache as your muscles adapt to the new longer or faster regime so it may well be worth going and seeking professional help before it any niggles become worse. There is running after injury, a few days off can be the difference between you achieving your goal or not. If you push yourself too much you can end up broken and be off for a very long time and this has a big effect on your psychological well being as well as your physical one. As you are training your body to run for longer you shouldn't worry about your pace, you should be running at a pace that is comfortable for you, all my plans have easy runs/long runs/tempo or interval on each run. The easy and long runs need to be just that, easy, so really comfortable talking pace as you build up your aerobic endurance. Don't start out too fast, just slow it down and make sure you finish strong with a little bit more in the tank, you want to feel exhilerated and ready for your next session in a couple of days, not exhausted and feeling demoralised so that it's so much more difficult to head out of the door for your next run.
Sometimes we can just get stuck in a twice a week rut that can be a bit boring; it may be that you find it hard to push yourself and find the motivation to keep going. Most runners run their first races at a relatively easy pace as speed isn't the goal, enduring it is, most are just happy to reach the finish line. We can become obsessed with speed and I often hear people say "oh I'm not fast" and whilst speed isn't the be all and end all of why we run it can add a bit of excitemet to any session. Speed can be improved by just getting stronger through regular steady runs as you are building a good set of foundations on which to develop and progress. However you will see progress in your ability if you train your body to run a faster pace with speedwork. You only need to do one speed workout per week or even one every other week. All of your runs are an important part of the overall training package so don't do too much speed work as you need to allow your body and mind to adapt to the transition of pushing yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone. Speed training is more bearable and yes even enjoyable when accompanied by other people. If you haven't done any speed training at all, ease into it, do some "Fartleks" Swedish for speed play. Change your pace between certain landmarks, these can be benches or lamposts or trees. Walk between them, then run a little bit faster between the next ones and then sprint between the next. Then repeat, walk, run, sprint, make sure you are warmed up properly, don't just rush into it and be cautious, see how it feels, let your body adapt to the new stress of sprinting, you are using different muscles and these need to be built up slowly. Start each fartlek slightly slower than you'll finish it making sure you finish feeling exhilarated and tired and not with a pulled muscle.