Ultra-runner Flo Neuschwander on the move.
© Phil Pham/Red Bull Content Pool

Just Flo Neuschwander blessing you with tips to smash that next 5km run

German ultrarunner, Flo Neuschwander, has 10 tips to boost your internal battery before the Wings for Life World Run takes place in May.
Written by Victoria Knowles
5 min readUpdated on
Florian Neuschwander’s Run with the Flow crew has won the team category at the Wings for Life World Run for seven years in a row. But with more than 800 team-mates on board for this year's event on May 7, you’d better believe they’re not all world record setters like their team captain. One of the most accessible entry points for rookie runners is the 5k, which has a habit of quickly nestling its way into your fitness regime.
Neuschwander says the next challenge is knocking your time down, minute by minute, second by second. To help, he's got some tips to get your 5k under control and maybe even under 30 minutes – the point where the Catcher Car will begin pursuit.
Find out how you can take part in Wings for Life World Run and support spinal cord injury research.

Start doing 2k and 10k runs

Slaying the 5k isn't just about running 5k all the time. The name of the game is increasing your aerobic ability while building an internal battery that never dies. "Mixing up your 5ks with longer 7.5k to 10k runs and shorter 2k to 3k ones can improve your stamina and your speed," Neuschwander suggests.
Judith Wyder runs in Thun, Switzerland on June 24, 2015.

Short or long runs can help improve stamina

© Phil Gale/Red Bull Content Pool


HIIT it up

If you want to boss your 5k time without necessarily hitting the pavement several times per week, you might try high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It's basically combining vigorous exercise (e.g. sprinting on the spot, or cycling as fast as you can) with brief rests.
Studies suggest it could even have better gains for your cardiovascular ability than continuous endurance training. "Cycling is something I do myself for cross-training," says Neuschwander. "High-intensity bursts can be one way to squeeze in training on those days when you're pressed for time."
While you're training, try weaving five-minute intervals of threshold running into your longer run
Curler Chris Plys trains in Blaine, USA.

Skipping is a great HIIT exercise

© Ryan Taylor/Red Bull Content Pool


Don't aim for a PB on every single run

"Nobody likes to run full throttle more than me, but sometimes, to run faster you actually need to run slower – as long as you do it regularly," Neuschwander advises.
Easy runs are a surprisingly effective way to build your fitness and although it's tempting to drop these from your schedule, they're important for healing and for being able to run more often, as well as for balancing out the more intense stuff.

Think about your heart rate

To run harder for longer, you might consider threshold running. Rather than concentrating on pace, you're looking at effort – what fitness folks say is comfortably hard and below your optimum 5k time. "Pace is still important and when you want to plan for the run on May 8, there's a Goal Calculator to help you figure that out," Neuschwander notes. "But while you're training, try weaving five-minute intervals of threshold running into your longer run." Over time you might increase the intervals to 10 minutes or longer.
Gwen Jorgensen on a training run in Minneapolis.

Interval training keeps the heart rate up

© Ryan Taylor/Red Bull Content Pool


Turn mountains into molehills

Running up hills is a skill set in itself. Rather than thinking about it as a measurement of how much energy you have, compare it to squatting or lifting weights – that's kind of what’s happening to your leg muscles. If you make your regular 5k a hilly route, Neuschwander says: "The flats will become easy by comparison."
Florian Neuschwander running in Kleinarl, Austria

Florian Neuschwander running in Kleinarl, Austria

© Ydwer van der Heide/Red Bull Content Pool


Strong legs = fast pace

Speaking of muscles, since your legs are going to be your primary instrument for your 5k, you're going to want to whip them into shape. "But it's not just about having shapely calves," laughs the moustachioed athlete. "Your hamstrings and glutes are important, too." Work your whole legs in the gym to get the best out of them.
Morgan Lake performs during a training session in London, United Kingdom

Put in the leg work at the gym, literally

© Greg Coleman/Red Bull Content Pool


Seek variety in your routes

Neuschwander has laced up his shoes all over the world and says, "For me, the terrain doesn't matter. The important thing is to get out and run." Concrete, mud, gravel, hilly, flat – getting accustomed to different routes will make you more prepared for anything thrown at you. Try your anticipated App Run route more than once for a better time – you'll know what to expect, where to preserve your energy and when to floor it.

Find motivation outside yourself

If you want to give better than your best or go for longer, the goal of the Wings for Life World Run will fire up your inspiration. The whole point is to support research to find a cure for spinal cord injury. "The fact that this virtual car is chasing you and that it's for a good cause – that's my thing," Neuschwander shares.
Runner performs during the seventh edition of the Wings for Life World Run - App Run in Altenmarkt, Austria on May 3, 2020

A runner in Austria celebrating the spirit of the Wings for Life World Run

© Joerg Mitter for Wings for Life World Run


Weather it out

If you felt those race times dropping during winter weather, take heart: the workout you've been giving your lungs means that as milder weather steps in, you should get a boost of confidence in your race time. Neuschwander adds with a smile: "And if it’s been summer in your part of the world, no worries. You never know what the weather will be like on race day, but we all get through it together."
Florian Neuschwander running in Kleinarl, Austria

There's nothing quite like the sun on your back

© Ydwer van der Heide/Red Bull Content Pool


A little help from your friends – and the App

Neuschwander set the record for 100km on a treadmill (6h 26m 08s) and credited the support of people around the world who were following along digitally. Now, he says: "On race day, Our Run with the Flow team will be running individually, but connected on the App. It's such an amazing event and when you're having fun, you can blast those kilometres."
Dominika Stelmach is seen right before the seventh edition of the Wings for Life World Run - App Run in Poznań, Poland on May 3, 2020

Download the Wings for Life World Run App

© Dorota Szulc for Wings for Life World Run

Join Flo Neuschwander and Wings for Life World Runners everywhere: wingsforlifeworldrun.com
Download the App here: iOS / Android.

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Wings for Life World Run

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Wings for Life World Run

The world's biggest running event connects runners and wheelchair users globally with a fun, unique format and compelling charitable objective: 100 percent of entry fees go to spinal cord research.

Florian Neuschwander

German ultrarunner Florian Neuschwander loves nothing more than testing his endurance levels by covering staggering distances on foot.