- Fast Coaches Reveal Top 5K Strategies
- 4 Week 5K Training Plan for Beginners
- Getting Started with a 5K Training Schedule
- What Pace Should IRun?
- Week 1
- Week 2
- Week 3
- Week 4
- 5K Race Day Tips
- More Training Schedules:
- 5K Training: Plans, Race Day Tips And More
- An 8-Week Couch To 5K Training Plan For Everyone
- A 10-Week 5K Training Plan For A Personal Best
- How To Train For A 5K
- How much training do you need to do?
- How should you split up your sessions?
- What’s the most important session?
- How do you get faster?
- Where do most people go wrong?
- What do elite runners do that everyone can learn from?
- How To Avoid Injury
- The Running Gear You Need For A 5K
- Race Day Tips
- What to Do (What Not to Do) Before a 5K Race
- Our 3 Most Surprising 5K Training Tips
- 5K Training Tip #1: Get Those Miles In!
- 5K Training Tip #2: Practice Running Fast!
- 5K Training Tip #3: Learn To Run With Less Effort
- 1) The High Skip
- 2) Carioca
- Training For A 5K? Check Out These Running Plans | PROTIPS
- ELEMENTS OF A 5K TRAINING PLAN
- 5K TRAINING PLAN FOR BEGINNER RUNNERS
- 5K TRAINING PLAN FOR INTERMEDIATE RUNNERS
- 5K TRAINING PLAN FOR ADVANCED RUNNERS
- 5K Training : Advanced
Fast Coaches Reveal Top 5K Strategies
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Block Out Time
Once you’ve been running for a while—and especially if you’ve raced longer distances—it’s easy to feel dismissive of a mere 3.1 miles. However, truly conquering a 5K demands the same degree of preparation as a half or full marathon, says Kaitlin Gregg Goodman, an elite runner and coach in Providence, Rhode Island, with a best 5K time of 15:29.
“It’s a different kind of hard compared to a marathon—it’s shorter, but it’s not easier,” says Matt Thull, a coach at ThunderDome Running in Milwaukee and holder of a 14:07 5K PR. So to achieve your 5K potential, you’ll want to set aside your half and full marathon ambitions and dedicate at least one three-month training block to the effort.
TRAIN WITH RW: Plans for every distance (and every runner) in 3 easy ways!
Doing tempo runs (or even some speedwork) on the roads prepares your body to run fast on terrain similar to your racecourse.
Set a Benchmark
Hop into what Thull calls a “rust-busting” 5K at the beginning of your training cycle: Run it as fast as you can and use it to set workout paces and race goals. You might find you’re capable of covering it more swiftly than you think, says coach Alan Culpepper, a two-time Olympian and author of Run a Champion (who’s completed 5K in 13:25.6).
If you’re injury-prone, however, prepare with six weeks of 5K training before that first race, Culpepper says. You’ll prime your muscles and joints for faster running, decreasing your odds of getting hurt.
Another option: Run a benchmark workout. After a one- to two-mile warmup, Goodman prescribes three hard one-mile repeats with four to five minutes’ walking or jogging in between. By the end of 5K training, you should be able to race a full 5K at the same pace you averaged for those reps.
Follow a Plan
A training plan works a syllabus, guiding you step by step through unfamiliar terrain toward your goals. You’ll ly log fewer miles than you would prepping for a half or full marathon—but you’ll do more fast running to build muscular strength, increase your efficiency, and improve your running mechanics, Culpepper says.
In fact, a well-crafted plan is almost more critical for the 5K than for longer distances, Thull says. Short, intense workouts demand precision in their execution; if you shift days around or run faster than prescribed paces, you may hurt yourself or hamper your recovery.
A good plan usually involves two hard workouts per week, including one with repeats around 5K pace and another that alternates short, fast intervals or hill repeats with tempo runs. You’ll also do a long run of between five and 12 miles, plus one or more easy runs.
Cross-train on off days, if you , but keep it easy—gentle yoga or a moderate swim instead of a high-intensity boot camp. Keeping your hard days hard and your easy days easy allows you to crush your 5K workouts, Goodman says.
RELATED: Improve your running performance with the new 10-Minute Cross-Training for Runners workout DVD from Runner’s World
Rehearse Your Warmup
Forget the marathon mindset of using early miles to ease into race effort. “You’re asking your body and legs and mind to do so much in that first mile of a 5K,” Thull says. “When that gun goes off, it’s , ‘Here we go.’”
Plan to spend at least 30 to 45 minutes warming up before both speed workouts and races. Practicing your entire prerun ritual during training increases the chance that each workout will go well—and also helps you nail race day, Thull says.
Beginners should start with one easy mile, jogging more slowly than on a regular easy run. More advanced runners can do up to three, picking up the pace slightly during the last mile, Goodman says. Then spend at least five minutes—more if you have time—doing drills leg swings, arm circles, and skipping. Follow that with about one minute of hard running.
Immediately before your race or workout, do four to six strides—100-meter pick-ups at an effort level of about 9 on a scale of 1 to 10. Focus on running tall with a fluid stride, Goodman says. Allow yourself to recover completely in between.
RELATED: This 2-Minute Warmup Is Perfect Before Any Workout
Though it’s ideal to replicate your preworkout routine on race day, don’t freak out if race officials demand you line up before you’ve finished your strides. Even if you skip them entirely, the minute of hard running still preps you for your starting pace, Goodman says.
Do some static stretching postrun if it feels good, but every runner should do dynamic stretches ( leg swings) before speedwork.
Pace Yourself (a Little)
On race day, you want to hit goal pace right away—which doesn’t mean running all-out, because you’ll blow up and slow down, Culpepper says. Breaking the race into thirds provides a good framework for proper pacing.
Goodman uses the mantra “calm and controlled” for the first mile. Remember that you’ve trained for speed and your legs are well rested. Combine that with adrenaline, and goal pace may feel you’re not running fast enough.
The second mile should also come in close to your goal pace, but your effort level will be higher: about 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, Thull says. Don’t panic if it feels hard. “Instead, do a body scan and say, ‘All right, where am I at? It’s hurting, but it’s supposed to if I’m on track to reach that ambitious goal,’” Goodman says. Then bring the last 1.1 miles home at an effort level of 10 10.
Your exact pace at a given effort level may vary the course: Study the profile of your goal 5K and memorize when you’ll turn corners and encounter hills, Culpepper says. That way, you won’t sweat a slightly slower pace on uphills—or miss the chance to make up time charging downhill.
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4 Week 5K Training Plan for Beginners
This 4 week 5K training plan for beginners is perfect for those who want to be ready for a 5K race in about a month. It’s intended for beginner run/walkers who want to build up to continuously running a 5K (3.1 miles) race.
If you need a bit more time, check out this 6 week 5K training plan for beginners or this 8 week 5K training schedule for beginners.
Before you start this training schedule, you should have been active a couple of days a week, or can already comfortably run a half mile. If you’re completely new to running and have been sedentary for the past couple of months, start with this 30-Day Beginner Training Schedule or this 4 week training schedule to run 2 miles.
Getting Started with a 5K Training Schedule
In this 5K training plan, you’llmake slight increases in your running distance while making small decreases inyour walking distance each week.
At four weeks, you’ll be ready to run the 5Kdistance without walking. Of course, it’s completely find to take a walkbreak during your 5K race, too.
For example, if the race has a water stop,you may want to walk through it so you can drink your water with spilling orgulping it.
You don’t have to do your runs on specific days; however, you should try not to run two days in a row. You can either take a complete rest day or do cross-training on the days in between runs.
Cross-training can be biking, swimming, using the elliptical, yoga or any other activity (other than running) that you enjoy. Strength training two to three times a week is also extremely beneficial for runners to help improve endurance, increase speed, and reduce injury risk.
If you have more than four weeks before your 5K and you find that this training schedule is progressing too quickly for you, repeat that week’s workouts for another week before moving on to the next week.
What Pace Should IRun?
There isn’t a magic pace that’s just right for training runs or for the race itself. Everyone’s fitness and ability levels vary, so what works for one runner may not work for another.
As a beginner runner, you should run at a conversational pace, as you build your running endurance and confidence.
You should be able to speak in complete sentences while running, without breathing too heavy or gasping for air.
If you find yourself breath, slow your pace or take a walk break. If you’re running on a treadmill and you’re not sure where to start your pace, begin at 4.0 mph and make slight increases until you’ve reached a comfortable, conversational pace.
Before starting your workout, walk briskly for 5 minutes or do some warm-up exercises to get your muscles warmed up and ready for running. Finish off with a 5-minute walk to cool down.
- Day 1: Run 8 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat 2 times
- Day 2: Rest or cross-train
- Day 3: Run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat 2 times
- Day 4: Rest
- Day 5: Run 12 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat 2 times
- Day 6: Rest or cross-train
- Day 7: Rest
- Day 1: Run 14 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat 2 times
- Day 2: Rest or cross-train
- Day 3: Run 16 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 7 min
- Day 4: Rest
- Day 5: Run 18 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 7 min
- Day 6: Rest or cross-train
- Day 7: Rest
- Day 1: Run 20 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 6 minutes
- Day 2: Rest or cross-train
- Day 3: Run 23 minutes
- Day 4: Rest
- Day 5: Run 25 minutes
- Day 6: Rest or cross-train
- Day 7: Rest
- Day 1: Run 28 minutes
- Day 2: Rest or cross-train
- Day 3: Run 30 minutes
- Day 4: Rest
- Day 5: Run 20 minutes
- Day 6: Rest
- Day 7: Race! Run 3.1 miles
5K Race Day Tips
As youget ready for your 5K race, here are some tips to keep in mind for race day:
- Stick to your routine. The golden rule of racing is: Nothing new on race day. Make sure that you’re wearing clothes and gear that you’ve already tested while training for your 5K. You don’t want to be surprised by uncomfortable clothes or painful chafing issues on race day. If you’ve never raced before, learn how to put your race bib on before the race.
- Don’t stuff yourself the night before. You don’t have to carbo-load for a 5K race. Overeating may lead to gastrointestinal distress or other issues. Just eat normal-size portions of a regular, healthy dinner the night before. For breakfast, eat something that’s easy to digest a banana and toast or a bagel. Try to stick to foods that you’ve eaten. Again, nothing new on race day!
- Warm up before the race. In a shorter race a 5K, it’s a good idea to do a warm-up, so you slowly raise your heart rate and get your muscles warmed up. Before heading to the starting line, do a slow jog for about five minutes or do some warm-up exercises, jumping jacks or high knees.
Get more 5k race day tips and advice on how to avoid common racing mistakes.
More Training Schedules:
5K Training: Plans, Race Day Tips And More
When you take up running, a 5K is the natural target event to have in mind, not only because it’s the shortest standard mass-participation race, but also because it’s the easiest to enter – especially since parkrun has brought free, timed 5K group runs to locations all over the UK every Saturday morning.
But a 5K is not only an event for beginners – if you’re an advanced runner looking to trim some time off your PB at any distance, sharpening up your speed over 5K is a great place to start.
An 8-Week Couch To 5K Training Plan For Everyone
Nothing will ruin running for you trying to do too much too soon, so this beginner plan designed by running coach Ed Kerry mixes up running and walking until, after eight weeks, you’ll be more than ready to run 5K. See the plan.
A 10-Week 5K Training Plan For A Personal Best
No matter what your current PB is, this plan put together by Saucony UK athlete Ieuan Thomas and his coach James Thie will help you best it.
Each week comprises of five runs which are all , or are exact copies of, sessions that Thomas uses.
Don’t worry, you won’t have to train at an elite level, just add in one new type of session from the plan to what you’re already doing each week and you’ll soon see improvements. See the plan.
How To Train For A 5K
John Brewer, author of Run Smart, gives his tips on how to build the endurance and speed required for the shortest race distance.
How much training do you need to do?
It depends on your starting point, but two to three sessions a week should work for most people, and will enable you to build up first the time spent running, then the distance.
If this is your first time attempting the distance, you need to build up gradually, running a similar distance or only slightly longer in each session, and including faster interval sessions to improve leg speed and recovery.
For more experienced runners attempting a faster time, higher mileage and regular interval running will improve your ability to tolerate lactic acid as well as increasing oxygen uptake capacity.
How should you split up your sessions?
You need a mix of steady running to develop endurance and leg strength, alongside interval sessions to improve lactate tolerance, leg speed and recovery.
What’s the most important session?
The hard interval session, which includes fast repetitions and short recovery times. It will be the toughest session of the week but it touches on all the aspects of fitness that are needed for 5K running: high tempo for leg speed, short recovery for lactic acid tolerance, and fast stride rate for leg speed and strength.
How do you get faster?
By running faster and by developing leg power. So high-tempo training sessions that develop leg speed are important, and strength work such as hill running or plyometric training will also help to develop leg power and speed. But it’s worth bearing in mind that a good aerobic capacity is still essential, since without this any runner will be too fatigued to produce fast leg speed.
Where do most people go wrong?
A common mistake is to focus on distance alone and forget that higher-intensity, shorter-duration training can be just as beneficial. Taking yourself your comfort zone of steady-state running is essential if you’re going to improve.
What do elite runners do that everyone can learn from?
They mix intensity with volume, and also use races as a means of gaining and maintaining fitness, accepting that their best performances will come at a later date. Building in a rest day, which allows the body to recover and adapt to the stimulus of training, is also a common component of an elite athlete’s training diary.
How To Avoid Injury
Although 5K runners are less ly to pick up an injury than those training for a marathon, simply due to the greater amount of distance you have to cover when preparing for the latter, common running injuries achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, runner’s knee and shin splints can still be an issue.
The most common cause of running injuries is increasing the amount of training you are doing suddenly, especially if you are doing a lot more high-speed running to prep for a 5K PB attempt.
If you are a complete beginner it’s definitely worth following a structured couch to 5K plan to make sure you don’t overdo it; if you are already a regular runner don’t suddenly ramp up your weekly mileage to prep for an event, or do three track sessions in a week having never done them before.
A good rule of thumb for a casual runner is to work out your average weekly distance across the past four weeks, then add 2-4km to that each week if you want to increase your total running at a manageable rate.
When doing speed sessions make sure you leave adequate time to recover afterwards, and definitely don’t do two speed runs back-to-back if it’s something you're not used to – easy, recovery runs are a must.
The Running Gear You Need For A 5K
As with all running, the key bit of gear for a 5K is a good pair of running shoes.
If you’re new to running it’s worth trying gait analysis (available for free in many running shops) to see which type of shoes suit you best.
You might overpronate (where your foot rolls excessively inwards when it lands) or underpronate (the foot doesn’t roll far enough), or you may be a neutral runner in the Goldilocks zone between the two.
Whatever gait analysis tells you, there will be a huge number of options to pick between. For 5K running you don’t need huge amount of cushioning on your trainer, which is useful in protecting the body when covering long distances in marathon training.
With that said, if you enjoy the comfortable ride of a highly cushioned shoe, go for it. A lightweight racing shoe might be slightly faster over 5K, but it’s only going to make a big difference if you’re a real speed demon trying to shave seconds off your PB.
For 5K running, all other gear is just a matter of preference. You don’t need to carry any food or water with you, and chafing isn’t a concern because you won't be running for hours on end. Wear whatever feels good – a football shirt, a parkrun souvenir T-shirt, a Mr Blobby costume… it’s up to you.
Race Day Tips
The mistake most runners make with any running event is to go out too fast. A 5K might seem a short race on the start line, but it starts to feel very long indeed if you cane the first kilometre.
When running with other people you will inevitably start faster than you should but, after a couple of hundred metres, force yourself to rein it in.
You may feel you’re losing time – but you’ll get it back by finishing strong.
Make sure you warm up, ideally by running a couple of kilometres at a gentle pace beforehand if you are PB hunting.
If you’re doing a parkrun for the first time, try to scout the route on the website – a surprise hill at the 4km mark can really hit hard, as can a slippery stretch of muddy track when you were expecting a Tarmac-only run.
What to Do (What Not to Do) Before a 5K Race
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Should you run the day before a 5K? There's really no right or wrong answer here. It's good to rest your running muscles in preparation for a race, so many runners to relax and not run the day before.
They say that they feel fresh and ready when they get to the starting line.
But other runners (especially those with more nerves) swear by a very slow, 20-minute jog the day before a race, saying that it helps them loosen up.
Whatever you do, just make sure that you don't do a long or intense hard workout that may leave you feeling tired or sore the next day. Keep it short and easy. You're not going to get any fitter or faster in the week before your 5K, so don't try to cram for the final.
If possible, pick up your race bib, timing chip (if the race is using them), and swag bag the day before the race. This way, you won't have to worry about rushing to get it on the morning of the race—and you're more ly to get your desired race T-shirt size.
Check the weather so you know what to expect during the race and can dress accordingly for hot, cold, or rainy weather if necessary. A good rule of thumb: Dress as if the weather is 15 degrees warmer than it is.
That's how much you'll warm up once you start running. If it's cold, you can always wear warmer clothes while you're waiting for the race to start.
Many races offer a gear check where you can store your bag with extra clothes for before and after the race.
Lay everything out the night before, so that you're not scrambling and rushing around in the morning. The most important rule for what to wear during your 5K is, “nothing new on race day.
” It’s not the time to try out brand new running shoes or a cute outfit.
Plan to race in tried-and-true clothes you've run in before, so you don't have any unexpected discomfort or issues chafing or blistering.
That also means you probably shouldn't wear the free race T-shirt you get when you pick up your race bib. The race T-shirts are usually made from cotton and can get heavy and uncomfortable when they're wet with sweat. In addition, some runners think that wearing the shirt before you've actually finished the race is bad luck.
It's normal to feel nervous before a race, even if it's not your first one. Stick to relaxing activities, such as reading a book or watching a movie, in the days leading up to your race.
It's also important that you get plenty of sleep.
Even if you know you'll have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, it's still important that you get off your feet and hit the hay early.
The morning of the race, you don't want to stuff yourself, but you also don't want to have a totally empty stomach. That said, choose your pre-race food wisely. We recommend eating a snack or light meal at least one hour prior to the start of the race. A full stomach can lead to cramping or side stitches during the race.
Choose something high in carbohydrates and lower in fat, fiber, and protein. Stay away from rich, fatty, or high-fiber foods, as they may cause stomach issues. Here are some of the best and worst pre-run foods to consider.
Give yourself plenty of time so you can find a good parking spot, pick up your bib number (if you haven’t already), check your bag, and use the bathroom (the lines may be long).
If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts before or during the race, try to focus only on your breathing and race you don't care about the outcome. Remember, you are only competing against yourself, so enjoy the moment.
In a shorter race a 5K, it's a good idea to do a warm-up, so you slowly raise your heart rate and get your muscles ready to go. About 15 minutes before the race start, do a slow jog for about 5-10 minutes, then walk briskly to the starting line.
Be sure you put the race bib on the front of your shirt, using safety pins on all four corners to keep it in place. You can usually grab these right at the bib pick-up area. Wearing your bib on the front (not the back) of your shirt is considered good racing etiquette and lets race officials know you're part of the race.
If there are official race photographers on the course, they'll also use your bib number to identify your race photos. So make sure your number is clearly visible, especially at the finish line. If there's a B-Tag timing device on the back of your race bib, make sure it's not bent or covered with clothing or a running belt.
Don't line up near the front of the starting line. Faster, more seasoned runners don't to weave around newbie (and ly slower) runners at the start of the race. Some races have corrals estimated pace or post pace signs. If not, ask runners nearby their anticipated pace. If it's faster than yours, move further back.
It will be easier to fall into your pace if you're around people that are the same speed as you. It may feel crowded at the start, but it will space out as the race gets started and you’ll be able to find your groove quickly.
It’s a classic racing mistake—even for seasoned runners. The excitement of the start can cause most runners to go out much faster than they anticipated. This speed may feel good early on, but could cost you later. Check in with your pace early on and stay in control.
Take advantage of the water stations on the course. They’re there for you! If you've never done it before, here are some tips on how to take water from a hydration stop. And don't forget to thank the volunteers for handing out water!
Invite your friends and family members to come cheer you on. Ask them to stand near the finish line to make it easier to push yourself at the end.
Don't put pressure on yourself to achieve a really fast time for your first 5K race. Finishing the race and enjoying the experience are perfect goals for a first-timer. Give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy the thrill of crossing your first finish line!
Congratulations on setting the goal of running your first 5K—and making it a reality! We hope these expert tips created a successful running journey from start to finish line. Soak up your accomplishment (and your new 5K personal record) and we’ll be here when you’re ready to take on the next race!
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Our 3 Most Surprising 5K Training Tips
Running a 5K is no joke! Whether you’re preparing for your first distance running event, or gearing up to achieve and maintain your FASTEST race pace ever…here are our 3 favorite 5K Training Tips!
5K Training Tip #1: Get Those Miles In!
You cannot achieve success on race day without simply logging the miles in preparation!
Even though the race will be a distance of 3.1 miles, many of your training runs should fall somewhere between 3 and 5 miles.
Being able to maintain good form for a longer distance will make your efficiency and stamina for the shorter race distance that much better.
Here’s a couple tricks you can use to reset your posture mid-run:
1) Every 5-10 minutes: Shake out your arms and legs. After a few moments, reset those shoulders and that arm swing and continue on!
2) Every 5-10 minutes: Stop and do 8-10 squats. After completing, reset the hips and settle into your newly re-energized stride!
3) You can alternate between these two movements until the run is over.
5K Training Tip #2: Practice Running Fast!
The 5K race is often used as a vehicle for improving speed at other distances. For someone running a 10K or Half Marathon down the road, perhaps the most valuable of our 5K training tips is to work regularly on improving your speed!
And remember, your speed is only as good as your ability to maintain it during the race.
Here’s a workout you can incorporate once a week:
1) Find a “runnable” hill (5-8% gradient). It should not be so steep that you have to hike to get up it.
2) Run up the hill with a hard effort (it should feel similar to a sprint) for 45-60 seconds.
3) Recover by walking or jogging down the hill before repeating.
4) Repeat for 5 rounds.
5) The goal is to be able to complete up to 10 rounds after a couple months of training.
And here are a few additional 5K Training Tips to use to make those hill sprints less painful:
1) Keep your eyes up! Don’t focus on the ground.
2) Keep your hips driving forward as you run INTO the hill!
3) Make a conscious effort to maintain your arm swing! putting more gas into the car, the arm swing can serve as extra fuel to get you up that hill!
5K Training Tip #3: Learn To Run With Less Effort
The 5K distance is a perfect blend of demanding both distance and speed equally.
To find success in the 5K you must learn to expend less energy. You can do this by accessing more power in each step as well as improving the mechanics of your footwork and upper body posture as you run.
To fine-tune this, try adding in 1-2 running drills before 1-2 runs per week.
Here are two of our favorites:
1) The High Skip
The high skip teaches you how to drive the most power your foot, each time it comes off the ground.
Exaggerating the driving of the knee to the chest will help you find a more efficient pulling position in your stride.
The explosiveness of this movement will make your distance running more economical around miles 2 and 3.
Complete 2-3 rounds of high skips for 10-30 meters before heading out on your run.
The carioca movement encourages opening of the hips for more powerful arm swing as well as quicker footwork for improved cadence control.
Quicker cadence allows you to run faster for longer.
Complete 2-3 rounds of carioca for 10-30 meters before 1-2 runs each week.
These 5K training tips will make a world of difference in your race day running. Use them to improve your ability to hold onto that speed from start to finish!
Get even MORE your 5K Training with our exclusive FREE training program. Download it here!
Training For A 5K? Check Out These Running Plans | PROTIPS
Before you approach the starting line for your 5K run, you’ll want to make sure you have the right training. If you’re a beginner, your goal may be just to finish the 3.1 miles. If you’re a seasoned runner, you may be pushing to place or reach a new PR.
Whether you’re preparing for your first 5K or partaking in your latest race, these running plans can help keep you on track. The plans prep you for a 5K run by incorporating runs, cross-training and, of course, rest.
ELEMENTS OF A 5K TRAINING PLAN
Before we break down the guides, it’s important to understand each component of the training. Each level of experience utilizes different types of runs, so make sure you have a good grasp of what you should be doing.
Walks: Just as the phrase goes, you need to walk before you can run. During these 30-minute walks, aim to cover as much distance as possible. Track your mileage and try to add more miles each week until race day.
Run/Walk: Start by running for 15-20 seconds and then walking for 45 seconds. Gradually try to increase your run time. You should run until you’re fatigued and then walk until you’ve recovered enough to resume running.
Rest: These days are important because they give your body a chance to recover. Take the time to stretch or do yoga. If you’re new to yoga, try these 12 basic yoga poses for beginners.
Cross-Training for a 5K: This can help you become a well-rounded athlete and get you in shape for your race. Cross-training can include a range of physical activities, such as elliptical machines, biking and swimming. Just make sure it’s something you enjoy.
If you’re interested in taking up cycling as your cross-training activity but aren’t sure where to begin, check out our Pro Tips intro to indoor cycling. Alternatively, try a cross-training class that includes elements of cardio, strength and flexibility. Get started with this guide to cross-training class.
Sprint Intervals: The speed work consists of short, fast intervals with recovery jogs in between. This can help with leg turnover (stride frequency), maximizing stamina and race confidence.
Tempo Runs: These days are for sustained effort running at your typical 10K race pace. A 10K race pace will generally be slower than your goal pace for the 5K. These runs should be challenging yet manageable. The goal is to help develop and increase your anaerobic threshold while increasing speed.
Pace Runs: Warm up by walking or slowly jogging. Then transition to running with a pace. Track these runs either by how quickly you complete the mileage or by how many miles you complete in a set time. Try to increase your speed as the schedule progresses.
Recovery Runs: This type of run is relatively short and at a slower speed. These runs are typically built into the plan the day after a harder run. The real benefit of recovery runs is that they allow you to find the optimal balance between the two factors that have the greatest effect on your fitness and performance: training stress and running volume.
5K TRAINING PLAN FOR BEGINNER RUNNERS
Training for 3.1 miles may seem intimidating to a new runner. To lessen the potential worry, we’ve put together this beginner training plan for a 5K. It’s great for entry-level runners and mixes walking, running and cross-training.
You’ll begin your training week with cross-training followed by a 30-minute walk the following day. Incorporate a mix of running/walking and cross-training throughout the week. Fridays are for rest.
*Click to enlarge and print
5K TRAINING PLAN FOR INTERMEDIATE RUNNERS
The intermediate 5K plan is for runners with a few races under their belt. This training schedule is a bit more intense.
The plan has Monday as your rest day, followed by a pace run the next day. Then speed work, with a recovery run the following day. Tempo runs are typically done on Saturdays followed by either a long run, cross-training or rest the next day.
*Click to enlarge and print
5K TRAINING PLAN FOR ADVANCED RUNNERS
If you’re a seasoned runner with multiple races, this is the 5K training plan for you. The goal is to help increase speed and hopefully work toward reaching that PR.
The schedule starts with a 3-mile run and progresses into speed work and tempo runs. Rest time is interspersed throughout the plan.
*Click to enlarge and print
It’s important to remember these are just an outline to provide a training plan to get you to the starting line. Make sure to listen to your body and adjust accordingly. Also, you can modify the plan to fit your schedule as needed.
Remember to always consult a physician before taking up a new training regimen.
Before and after each run, make sure to stretch. Try these five pre-run stretches and these five post-run stretches.
5K Training : Advanced
This is the Advanced 5K Training Program. Are you ready for it? Only a small percentage of runners have trained hard enough before or have the natural ability to succeed with a plan this difficult..
If you are a seasoned veteran of the running wars, an individual who has been running for several years and who has run numerous 5K races and races at other distances, there comes a time when you want to seek maximum performance.
Regardless of your age or ability, you would to run as fast as you possibly can. You want a training program that will challenge you. Here it is! Advanced 5K is aimed, first, at runners who want to train fast but short, whose main focus is on short-distance races.
But the program also is useful as a prelude to a more endurance-based program aimed at a full or half marathon. Thus, Advanced 5K is a specialty program, useful for your improvement as a runner.
IF YOU’RE A SEASONED VETERAN OF THE RUNNING WARS, an individual who has been running for several years and who has run numerous 5K races and races at other distances, there comes a time when you want to seek maximum performance. Regardless of your age or ability, you would to run as fast as you possibly can. You want a training program that will challenge you. Here it is!
Let me state what you probably know already. To achieve maximum performance, you need to improve your endurance and your speed. You can do this by (1) running more miles, (2) running faster, or (3) some combination of both.
The following Advanced schedule is a much more sophisticated training program than that offered to Novice Runners or to Intermediate Runners.
In order to achieve full benefit from this program, before starting you probably need to be running 4-5 days a week, 20-30 miles a week or more, and at least have an understanding of the concepts of speedwork. If not, drop back to one of the other programs.
Here is the type of training you need to do, if you want to improve your 5K time. For additional help with your training, consider signing up for the interactive version available from TrainingPeaks. I will send you daily email messages telling you what to run and also offer tips to improve your performance.
Run: When the schedule says “run,” that suggests that you run at an easy pace. How fast is easy? You need to define your own comfort level. Don’t worry about how fast you run; just cover the distance suggested–or approximately the distance. Ideally, you should be able to run at a pace that allows you to converse with a training partner without getting too much breath.
Fast: For the Saturday runs, I suggest that you run “fast.” How fast is “fast?” Again, that depends on your comfort level. Go somewhat faster than you would on a “run” day. If you are doing this workout right, you probably do not want to converse with your training partner, assuming you have one. It’s okay now to get breath.
Long Runs: Once a week, go for a long run at an easy pace. (Notice use of the word “easy!”) Run between 60 and 90 minutes at a comfortable pace, not worrying about speed or distance.
Think minutes rather than miles, which allows you to explore different courses that you have not measured, or run in the woods where distance is unimportant. You should be able to carry on a conversation while you run; if not, you’re going too fast.
Don’t be afraid to stop to walk, or stop to drink. This should be an enjoyable weekend run, not one during which you punish yourself.
Interval Training: To improve your speed, train at a pace somewhat faster than your race pace for the 5K, about the pace you would run in a 1500 meter or mile race.
Run 400 meters hard, then recover by jogging and/or walking 400 meters. A second variation is to run 200 meter repeats at 800 race pace with 200 jogging between.
Before starting this workout, warm up by jogging a mile or two, stretching, and doing a few sprints of 100 meters. Cool down afterwards with a short jog.
Tempo Runs: This is a continuous run with an easy beginning, a build-up in the middle to near 10K race pace (or slightly slower than your pace in a 5K), then ease back and slow down toward the end.
A typical Tempo Run would begin with 5-10 minutes easy running, build gradually to 3-5 minutes at 10K pace, then 5-10 minutes cooling down. You can’t figure out your pace on a watch doing this workout; you need to listen to your body.
Tempo Runs are very useful for developing anaerobic threshold, essential for fast 5K racing.
Stretch & Strengthen: An important addendum to any training program is stretching. Don’t overlook it–particularly on days when you plan to run fast. Strength training is important too: push-ups, pull-ups, use of free weights or working out with various machines at a Health Club.
Runners generally benefit if they combine light weights with a high number of repetitions, rather than pumping very heavy iron. Mondays and Wednesdays would be good days to combine stretching and strengthening with your easy run, however, you can schedule these workouts on any day that is convenient for your business and personal schedule.
Also, it’s usually best to lift after your run, rather than before. The run thus becomes a warm-up for your gym work.
Rest: You can’t train hard unless you are well-rested. The schedule includes one designated day of rest (Friday) when you do nothing and a second day (Wednesday) when you have an option to also take a day off.
The easy 3-mile runs scheduled for Mondays are also to help you rest for the next day’s hard workout, so don’t run them hard! The final week before the 5K also is a rest week.
Taper your training so you can be ready for a peak performance on the weekend.
Racing: Some racing is useful to help you peak. Consider doing some other races at 5K to 10K distances to test your fitness. The following schedule includes a test 5K race halfway through the program. You could race more frequently (once every two weeks), but too much racing is not a good idea.
The schedule below is only a guide. If you want to do your long runs on Saturday rather than Sunday, simply flip-flop the days. If you have an important appointment on a day when you have a hard workout planned, do a similar switch with a rest day.
It’s less important what you do in any one workout than what you do over the full eight weeks leading up to your 5K. Also, consider signing up for the Virtual Program for more detailed information on what to run each day and tips for your training.
RUN FAST: For more information on training for 5K races (including other training methods), order a copy of my book Run Fast. It includes detailed information on form, flexibility, speedwork and strength training. This book will make you a faster runner. Click here to order a copy of Run Fast or other Hal Higdon books.