Trying to improve your 5K race time? This intermediate 5K training plan is six weeks long, and aimed at runners who can easily run for up to 30 minutes, four times a week. The training plan will include a number of different types of run to help you get your best time as you tackle your next 3.1 mile race – these include easy, tempo and fartlek runs. Find your perfect 5K race, or sign up to future races using our race finder.

Related: How to run the perfect 5K

Related: What’s the difference between fartlek, tempo and interval runs

If you feel like this is a bit much for you, take a look at our beginner 5K training plan, aimed at getting you started.

Related: What to eat before a 5K

The training plan:


Mon: Rest

Tue: 20-25 min easy

Wed: Rest

Thur: 10 mins easy, then 4 x 1 min brisk with 2-min jog recoveries, then 10 mins easy

Fri: Rest

Sat: 20 mins easy

Sun: 30 mins easy


Mon: Rest

Tue: 20-25 mins easy

Wed: Rest

Thur: 10 mins easy, then 4-5 x 90 secs brisk with 2.5 min jog recoveries, then 10 mins easy

Fri: Rest

Sat: 20 mins easy

Sun: 35 mins easy


Mon: Rest

Tue: 25-30 mins easy

Wed: Rest

Thur: 10 mins easy, then 20 mins fartlek (free-form fast and slow running)

Fri: Rest

Sat: 25 mins easy

Sun: 40 mins easy


Mon: Rest

Tue: 10 mins easy, then stretch, then 1 measured mile, timed, fast, then 10 mins easy

Wed: Rest

Thur: 10 mins easy, then 20 mins fartlek, then 10 mins easy

Fri: Rest

Sat: 20 mins easy

Sun: 45 mins easy


Mon: Rest

Tue: 25-30 mins easy

Wed: Rest

Thur: 10 mins easy, then 3 x 3 mins brisk with 3-min jog recoveries, then 10 mins easy

Fri: Rest

Sat: 25 mins easy

Sun: 35 mins easy


Mon: Rest

Tue: 25 mins easy, incorporating 6 x 20-40 seconds faster-paced running

Wed: Rest

Thur: 20-25 mins easy

Fri: Rest

Sat: 15 mins easy or rest

Sun: 5K Race!

Related: Top coaches reveal their best 5K race tips

Related: This workout will help you run a faster 5K

4 week intermediate 5k plan for Treadmills. Introducing Interval Training

Who should use this 5k Running plan?

This 4 week plan is for a beginning to intermediate 5k runner with a time of 29-30 minutes personal best. This plan assumes you can run 30 minutes continuously, have been running about 3 times per week, and have a 5k Personal Best of 29 to 30 minutes. The paces are in MPH to account for treadmill workouts, as the original plan was for someone living in Florida during the dog days of summer.

When to use this plan:

Use this 4 week plan in between 5ks. These paces are based off of your most recent 5k, so you should have the ability to do all of the intervals! The long runs are longer than you are used to, but likely slower than you’ve been running them. The idea is to add some mileage. The interval training is specific to your current level of fitness. Try to finish each one if possible. If you can’t finish a workout, do as many intervals as you can. If you can’t finish an interval, run at the correct pace (MPH) and cut off 30 sec to a min of the interval as needed to finish.

Run 3 times a week, and Walk on 2 other days

Each week has three key running workouts. Cross train on at least 2 additional days a week and one of these should be 45-60 minutes of brisk walking, but not running. This keeps the blood flowing to your legs, but eases some of the impact you’d otherwise experience if you added another running day. By increasing the intensity , you need to allow for your body to recover a bit more than you may be used to.

Start each workout with 5 minutes of brisk walking and jogging, then start your workout. After each workout, finish with 5 minutes of brisk walking and stretch. Do 10-15 minutes of core work after each run…that way the core work is done for the day!

Basic Nutrition for the 5k Runner

Hydrate well each day inbetween your workout days. Before your workout, eat a 250 cal snack at least 1-2 hours prior to the workout. Drink plain water during the workout (these aren’t long enough to deplete glycogen or electrolyte stores). After the workout, have a 100 cal snack within 15 minutes or so of finishing. You don’t need a lot of calories as these workouts aren’t long…so don’t use them as an excuse to eat a lot. Eat a meal within 2 hours of finishing the workout.

Week 1 Begin Tempo Training
Workout 1: 2 x 1.5 miles @ 6mph 2-5 min recovery between intervals
Workout 2: 4 x .25 miles @ 6.5mph w/ 2 min walk recovery
Workout 3: 2 x 2 mi at 4.9mph (YOU CAN DO IT!)

Week 2 Continue Tempo Training
Workout 1: 6 x .25 miles @ 6.5mph 2 min walk recovery btwn each. 5 min recovery then 1 mile @ 6mph
Workout 2: 1 x 2 miles at 6mph with 2 min rest
Workout 3: 3 – 4 miles 4.9 mph (GO for 4 straight miles! You can DO IT!)

Week 3 Begin Interval Interval Training
Workout 1: 3 x 1 miles at 6mph with 2 min rest
Workout 2: 1 mile at 6mph pace, 1 min rest; 1 x 0.5 mile at 6.5mph, walk 4 min, 4 x 1 minute at 6.9mph, walk 2 min rest
Workout 3: 5k race simulation at venue if possible (fast and continuous!) Try to negative split this run, doing the first mile at your previous 5k pace and picking up the pace as you go.

Week 4 Race Week
Workout 1: 30 min 6mph
Workout 2: 4 x 1 min at 6.9mph (walk 2min), 2 x 0.5mile 6.5mph walk 4 min
Workout 3: Race. Practice the “negative split” that you did last week. Start off moderate (but not slow). in the 2nd half of the race, start choosing people to gradually pass and slowly pickkup the pace till the end of the race.

Follow this plan, and in less than 30 days, you’ll be able to run 30 minutes.

Running is a simple human movement—but if you’re just starting out, it can seem next to impossible. How does that girl on the treadmill run an hour at a stretch while you can barely make it 30 seconds without feeling like you’re about to fall off the belt?

The best way to crack the run code is to start out with a run/walk approach. Starting slowly will keep you healthy, let you have fun and reduce the risk of injury. Begin with walking sprinkling in just a bit of running, and as you get more fit, you can slowly decrease your walk breaks. Or you can keep them in! I coached a 3:30 marathoner (that’s 8-minute miles!) who ran/walked the whole 26.2 miles.

Gear Up

Before you begin, invest in a new pair of running shoes, and use them for exercise only. Not all shoes are created equal, so don’t beat up your legs by running in an ill-made pair. Get properly fitted at a store that specializes in running and walking. When the soles or cushioning gets worn down (which will happen after 300 to 500 miles), use them as regular shoes and buy a new pair.

RELATED: 5 Tips For Sticking With Your Training Plan

Just as important as a good pair of kicks—you should be fitted for a sports bra at the same time. A bra should never celebrate a birthday, and the proper support will make training so much more enjoyable. Running socks provide extra cushioning and are important to help prevent blisters. A wicking top will keep you warmer in winter and cooler in summer than a cotton shirt.

Remember This

Keep these three tips in mind and you will crush this beginner program. Firstly, trying to keep both your run and your walk at even paces (although those will be separate of course) is generally the most efficient strategy. The most common novice error is going out too fast and getting exhausted before the end of the workout. It’s much better to start too slow and finish faster! Secondly, listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, stop or slow down.

RELATED: 3 Steps To Choosing The Best Training Plan

Finally and most importantly, have fun. Exercise should be enjoyable, and walking and running are great ways to explore new places and learn more about yourself.

Cari Setzler, a veterinarian who lives in Wonder Lake, Ill., is a running coach as well as a coaching instructor for the Road Runners Club of America, working with runners of all different abilities. To find a club to run with near you, visit

Want to run your first 5K? Follow this beginner’s 5K training plan to help prepare yourself for your first race.

Get prepared

This plan is pretty basic and assumes that you don’t run at all yet. It has been designed to get you round your first 3.1 mile race, probably with a few short walking breaks. The schedule will take you through six weeks, starting with short runs with walk breaks. If you find this too easy, or are already used to running for up to 30 minutes a few times a week, take a look at our intermediate 5K training plan.

Is it normal to feel pain during running?

Some discomfort is normal when you start training, but real pain isn’t normal. If something feels so bad that you have to run with a limp or otherwise alter your stride, you’re probably injured. Stop running immediately, and take a few days off. If you’re not sure, try walking for a minute or two to see if the discomfort disappears. If it doesn’t disappear, consult your GP.


What running shoes are best for beginners?

If you’re new to running, the chances are you’ll be looking to invest in a pair of running shoes that will get you moving (no, those old converse won’t do). We’ve rounded up the best running shoes for men and women here, but here’s our award winners:

Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2

Won: Best Update 2019

Price: £159.95

Buy now – men’s

Buy now – women’s

Reebok Floatride Energy

Won: Best Value 2019

Price: £59.46

Buy now – men’s

Buy now – women’s

Hoka One One Rincon

Won: Best Debut 2019

Price: £105

Buy now – men’s

Buy now – women’s

Saucony Ride ISO 2

Won: Best in test 2019

Price: £107

Buy now – men’s

Buy now – women’s

Our beginner 5K training plan:

Week one

Mon: Rest

Tue: Run 1 min, walk 1 min. Repeat 10 times.

Wed: Rest

Thur: Run 2 mins, walk 4 mins. Repeat 5 times.

Fri: Rest

Sat: Rest

Sun: Run 2 mins, walk 4 mins. Repeat 5 times.

Week two

Mon: Rest

Tue: Run 3 mins, walk 3 mins. Repeat 4 times.

Wed: Rest

Thur: Run 3 mins, walk 3 mins. Repeat 4 times.

Fri: Rest

Sat: Rest

Sun: Run 5 mins, walk 3 mins. Repeat 3 times.

Week three

Mon: Rest

Tue: Run 7 mins, walk 2 mins. Repeat 3 times.

Wed: Rest

Thur: Run 8 mins, walk 2 mins. Repeat 3 times.

Fri: Rest

Sat: Rest

Sun: Run 8 mins, walk 2 mins. Repeat 3 times.

Week four

Mon: Rest

Tue: Run 8 mins, walk 2 mins. Repeat 3 times.

Wed: Rest

Thur: Run 10 mins, walk 2 mins. Repeat twice, then run for 5 mins.

Fri: Rest

Sat: Rest

Sun: Run 8 mins, walk 2 mins. Repeat 3 times.

Week five

Mon: Rest

Tue: Run 9 mins, walk 1 min. Repeat 3 times.

Wed: Rest

Thur: Run 12 mins, walk 2 mins. Repeat twice, then run for 5 mins.

Fri: Rest

Sat: Rest

Sun: Run 8 mins, walk 2 mins. Repeat 3 times.

Week six

Mon: Rest

Tue: Run 15 mins, walk 1 min. Repeat twice.

Wed: Rest

Thur: Run 8 mins, walk 2 mins. Repeat 3 times.

Fri: Rest

Sat: Rest

Sun: 5K Race!

On race day: You will probably find that you can run at least 20 minutes before you need a break, but whatever your plan, start slowly and don’t wait until you are exhausted before taking some one-minute walk breaks.

If you’re tight on training time, having a solid race and even a great race is well within your reach.

Whether you were battling an early-season injury or simply slacked on your training, you now find yourself one month away from a race you signed up for a while ago. The problem is that you are nowhere near race-shape. Can you make it to the starting line and walk away with a respectable showing?

The short answer is yes, and even though you may be in for a ruder awaking than some of your cross-training counterparts, there is still an available means to perform your best and achieve what is realistically possible on the day. Regardless of your circumstances for falling behind on training, you can still salvage a good race by making the best use of your workouts over an abbreviated period.

Being honest with yourself is the key to setting obtainable race goals, proper workout paces and ensuring that you increase training volume smartly to avoid getting hurt before race day. “My advice with only four weeks to go is to not over-commit on the training. I know it is tempting for people to ‘cram’ but running a race is not like writing an exam,” explains professional runner and coach, Malindi Elmore. “It needs to be a mind-set of working with your body and maximizing advantages.”

A runner who was injured but diligent in his or her cross-training has a far different prospectus than the runner struck with slacker-syndrome. For the former, the outlook can be rather bright.

“After working hard in the gym cross-training, this athlete could expect to really run well and get close to top form,” says coach Alicia Shay. “It might not be a PR there is a potential that they could take a swing at their best time if they transition well from cross-training to running workouts.”

RELATED: Tips For Executing On Race Day

A runner going from little training to guns blazing shouldn’t expect a personal best but, “They could expect to gain a decent amount of fitness before race day,” explains Shay. Perhaps you’ve consistently been running but haven’t done structured workouts or aren’t quite race-day sharp. “It would be difficult to run a PR off only four weeks of working out but this runner could build fitness quickly and expect to run a solid race.”

Keep the momentum going and a personal best might be in sight with only a few more weeks of focused workouts.

Key Workouts and Training Volume

Threshold Workouts
“Basically, threshold workouts will get you more bang for your buck in terms of fitness without beating up the body muscularly and systemically,” says Shay. Aim for 2-3 of these workouts in the early weeks to build your base.

Race-Paced Workouts
“Integrate 3-4 race-pace specific workouts with plenty of rest so that your body can adjust to the running goal race-pace,” explains Shay.

Below Race-Pace
True speed sessions are incredibly taxing, and with only four weeks until race day it’s safer to do sets of strides. “Three sets of strides per week of 6-8 x 20-30 seconds,” suggests Shay. You don’t want them all-out, but rather getting a faster turnover while staying controlled.

Building mileage isn’t as important as focusing on quality workouts with only four weeks to go until your race. “I recommend increasing volume week 1, no more than 5 to 10 percent of previous mileage or minutes cross-training, holding steady week 2, decreasing 5 to 10 percent week 3 and then decreasing 20 to 30 percent week 4 leading into the race,” says Shay. If you haven’t been doing many miles prior, stick with a number that you’ve safely handled in the past and ‘spend’ your miles on the quality runs rather than easy ones.

RELATED: Debunking 3 Pre-Race Myths

Predicting Your Showing
You’ve put in the work, race day is nearing, and you’d like a gauge on what to expect time-wise. “A good prediction of what your goal race-pace should be is the pace that you can maintain for a set of 1,000- or 1,200-meter repeats with 2-3 minutes recovery. For a 5K, race pace will probably be slightly faster and for a 10K it will be slightly slower,” explains Shay. The time to do this would be your last quality session in week 3.

Use your last quality session in week 4 to prime you for the race. “The key is to get to know the pace — not to get a hard workout in … most people start their races too fast and positive split and the last workout is meant to teach the body the appropriate pace for an even-paced race at goal time,” says Elmore.

If you’re tight on training time, having a solid race and potentially even a great race, is well within your reach.

4-Week Training Plan

Racing in a month? Give this 4-week training plan from Coach Alicia Shay a shot.

Week 1
Monday: Easy Run

Tuesday: Threshold Workout — 4 x 1 mile with 1-minute recovery jog, 4 minute jog, 6 x 20 second strides with 60-90 seconds recovery

Wednesday: Recovery Run

Thursday: Easy Run with 4-6 x 20 second strides

Friday: Race Paced — 4-8 x 3 minutes at goal race pace with 2 minute recovery jog*

Saturday: Longer Recovery Run

Sunday: Rest

Week 2
Monday: Easy Run

Tuesday: Threshold Workout/Strides — 2-3 x 2 miles with 2-minute recovery jog, 6-8 x 30 second strides with 60-90 seconds recovery*

Wednesday: Recovery Run

Thursday: Easy Run and 4-6 x 20 second strides

Friday: Race Paced: 10-15 x 1 minute at goal race pace with 1-minute recovery jog*

Saturday: Recovery Run

Sunday: Rest

RELATED: 5K Training Center

Week 3
Monday: Longer Threshold Workout — 4-6 mile threshold run, 4 minutes recovery, 6-8 x 30 second strides*

Tuesday: Recovery Run

Wednesday: Easy Run and 4-6 x 20 seconds strides

Thursday: Easy Run

Friday: Goal Race Pace Predictor- 4-6 x 1000 meters with 3-4 minute recovery jog*

Saturday: Recovery Run

Sunday: Rest

Week 4
Monday: Easy Run

Tuesday: Threshold Workout- 3 x 1 mile with 2-minute recovery jog

Wednesday: Easy run

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Easy Run and 8 x 20 second strides

Saturday: Easy shake-out Run

Sunday: Race Day

*The number of repeats depends on race distance, 5K versus 10K training


About The Author:

Caitlin Chock set the then National High School 5k Record (15:52.88) in 2004. Still an avid runner, she works as a freelance writer and artist.

RELATED: Here’s Why Kayla Istines’ Workouts Are Taking Over the World

2. Make Moves
Don’t worry about how much distance you cover each day. Beal says it’s more important for beginners to get used to spending time on their feet, which is why her plan is outlined in minutes, rather than miles. “When you tell someone to run one mile, they tend to run fast for that mile because they want it to be over,” she says. “But if someone has to run for 10 minutes, it’s easier to slow down to a pace they can sustain because they know that even if they run faster, the workout isn’t going to end any sooner.”

You’ll also see plenty of walking built into your training plan. That’s on purpose, says Beal. Jumping from zero to nothing-but-running is a recipe for injury. Not to mention that adding in those breaks makes the workout feel less intimidating. “Knowing that you get a one-minute walk break soon can be the push you need to power through when you would have otherwise given up,” she says. “But it’s not going to affect your training as your heart rate won’t lower that much in a minute.”

Oh, and don’t forget to stretch it out before you hit the streets. “Dynamic stretching warms up the muscles you’re about to use, and leg swings prepare your hips for running,” says Beal. She suggests a warmup of five minutes of walking, plus 20 leg swings per side. (Want to get in shape, fast? Check out Women’s Health’s Ignite routine created by Next Fitness Star Nikki Metzger.)

3. Kill It At Cross-Training
No matter what distance you’re running, cross-training is an important component of any plan, says Beal. “The goal is to keep your body moving while using different muscles than the one you primarily call on for running, as you don’t want to be sore heading into your next run,” she says. “Plus, if you really enjoy bicycling or swimming, you shouldn’t feel bad about working that into your training routine.” Each of Beal’s cross-training workouts below can be done while swimming, cycling, or on the elliptical—all low-impact workouts that allow your body to actively recover—so choose your favorite and get moving.

RELATED: This 20-Minute Tabata Workout Beats an Hour on the Treadmill

Dorothy Beal/Alyssa Zolna

Come race day, remember the golden rule: Never try anything new. Test drive your race-day outfit throughout training, especially on the longer runs. Beal says you might not realize a shirt rubs you the wrong way until you’ve been moving in it for 10 minutes or more. Plus, you want to look (and feel) awesome in that finish line photo—not pulling out a wedgie or tugging your tank top back into place. #Priorities.

Samantha Lefave Freelance Writer Samantha Lefave is an experienced writer and editor covering fitness, health, and travel.

How to Use an Elite 5k Training Plan to Run Your Best 5k Ever

Whether you are looking for a 5k training schedule for your first 5k ever or you are looking for 5k training as an advanced runner, elite runner training logs are always insightful into what you need to follow in your running training plan to get ready for your next race.

Elite runners are the best our sport has to offer after all.

In todays edition of a look into elite runners training, I’m doing something a little different.

Rather then look at a couple of weeks of an elite runner training schedule, I have pulled out a progressive set of specific 5k training workouts that take place over 8 weeks of training.


If you want to race your best, you need to do workouts that work together in a sensible progression to build your goal race.

Why you should NOT try to get faster every run (or even every week)

Often we do a workout, repeat it, and then we try to run it faster.

I understand this temptation—and it has its place—BUT it is not how you build a race.

Here’s what you do instead:

The idea is to run your goal race pace and steadily increase the length of time that you are running at race pace while reducing the rest.

The idea is to reduce the difference between what you can already do.


Each person is different, but experience has shown me that I need only to be able to complete a session of 6×800 with a quick 200 jog rest, and I’m ready to run that pace in a competitive track 5k.


For most people I have found 5x1k with the same 200 rest is a better predictor of 5k performance.

I have worked with some athletes who are able to get near race-like efforts out of themselves in workouts who need to do 3×1600/mile at race pace with a 200 quick jog rest to be sure they will hit the time on race day, but these individuals are very rare.

What Does an Elite 5k Training Plan Look Like?

First, some background:

These workouts were done as the main, or most important session each week, but they were not the only workouts I was doing at the time.

Most weeks there would be a lighter tempo session and an under distance race (i.e., shorter then 5k).

On the weeks where the Tuesday session wasn’t 5k–specific, I would do a session of faster than race pace intervals.

This specific phase was the last cycle of a full training that started with a long base and fundamental phase during which I focused on my aerobic and muscular fitness and did only a small bit of training at 3k to 5k pace and almost no anaerobic work.

Instead the focus was high mileage, a lot of tempos, and a lot of short, explosive muscular work, like short hills, strides, diagonals, and the like.

Normally I caution you not to copy these sessions directly, but this week is an exception to that rule.

Here’s the deal:

This can be a 5k training plan for an intermediate runner as well as advanced runners as long as you adjust the paces to fit your current fitness.

Knowing what pace is achievable yet aggressive enough is a bit of an art and a science—and that can often be a big part of where a coach comes in—but the workouts themselves are very solid and doable for most runners.

Elite Runner Training Schedule

Tuesday December 29, 2010

3.5 miles warm up (23:58) + Strides

11 x 400m, 1 x 600m (100m jog rest)

67, 67, 68, 67, 67, 66, 67, 67, 66, 67, 68, 1:40

6100m total (5000m of hard workout)

3.5 miles cool down

11 miles total

Tuesday January 12, 2011

At Tufts indoor track

3 mile warm up + strides,

8 x 600m at goal 5k pace (sub 1:42) with 200m jog rest

1:39, 1:41, 1:41, 1:41, 1:41, 1:41, 1:41, 1:40

6200m including rest (5:23 mile pace)

3 mile cool down

10.5 miles total

Tuesday January 19, 2011

At Tufts indoor track

3 miles warm up + strides

6 x 800m at 5k pace with 200m jog rest

2:15, 2:14, 2:14, 2:13, 2:15, 2:15

5800m total (5000m hard)

200m hard in 29.5

3 mile cool down

10 miles total

Tuesday January 26, 2011 PM

At Reggie Lewis Center

23:57 warm up + strides,

12 x 400m and 1 x 200m with 100m jog rest

1:07, 1:07, 1:06, 1:07, 1:06, 1:07, 1:06, 1:07, 1:06, 1:07, 1:08, 1:06, 32.4

6200m total (5000m of work)

3 miles cool down

11 miles total

Saturday January 30, 2011

3 miles warm up

Race BU terrier 5000m, 4th place 13:56.74- PB

Splits 67.38,

800m- 2:12.84

1600m- 4:26.44



4k- 11:10.84

Last 800m-2:11.35

Last 400m-63.98

6 mile cool down

12 miles total

How Can I Use Elite Runner Training Plans to Help Me Run a Faster 5k?

Learn your 5k race pace

I don’t care what your goal race is.

One thing I think is key to properly preparing yourself for your best performance at that distance is to do so much running at your goal pace that it becomes ingrained in your head.

If you are not sure what your race pace is, you can work it out here.

Early on in the base phase it should be done in small doses, with lots of rest, and with a focus on feeling relaxed at the pace and being as smooth and efficient as possible at that speed and rhythm.

As you get closer to the specific phase, you should mix in some sessions where you run the pace when you are very tired, such as a fast last 400m or a tempo run, or a couple of reps at the end of a long run.

Here’s why:

This will teach your body that it can run that pace even when it feels like crap.

As you enter into the specific phase, you want to get your body used to the muscular demands of running the full volume of the race at your goal pace.

You can’t go out and run a 5k at goal pace right away by yourself.

If you could, then it wouldn’t be goal pace. So you need to put some rest in.

Whatever rest you need is fine; this is your starting point.

Workouts to get you ready to race a fast 5k

If you want to get ready for a race, you need to get ready for the demands that race is going to put on you.

When I was in high school I really wanted to break nine minutes in the two mile.

Keep in mind:

I was a long way from the type of runner capable of accomplishing such a feat, but that didn’t change the fact that my goal was to break nine minutes.

Over the course of the spring of my Senior year, I repeatedly did a workout of 8 x 400m with either a 400 jog rest or a two minute standing rest.

At the end of the winter season in which I had run a two mile best of 9:57, I could average just about 68 seconds for this workout.

By the end of the spring I ran this 8 x 400 session at an average of 60.0.

A massive session considering my middling 400m pb of 58 seconds.

But, get this:

I only ran 9:47 for two miles.

I improved for sure, but only by a bit over one second a lap while I improved 8 seconds a lap in my workout.

What happened?

I trained myself to run a great 8 x 400 workout instead of running a great two mile race.

I’m not saying if I had started reducing the rest on my 8 x 400 at 68 instead that I would have run 9:00 to 9:10 by the end of the season.

Again, there was a big gap there, but I think 9:20s was possible.

See how you can apply this same theory to your training?

In this cycle of workouts, I started with 400s at goal 5k pace with 100 jog. I did a 600 for the last rep on this one, but sometimes I will do all 400s and another 100 jog followed by a 200 hard, kicking in to simulate finishing my race, but I was feeling strong on this day and finished with a 600.


Some runners like to do a bit more then the full race distance, to make your workout volume 6k instead of 5k.

I’m totally okay with that, but my body has trouble handling track work so I stick to the minimum for myself.

If you start with this session and you can’t do it with 100 rests and have to mix in a few 200 or a 400 or whatever, that is fine.

The point is to cover the volume of work at the set pace.

The rest is what it is; this is your starting point.

How to progress the Workout

You have done your first session.

You know where you are, and now you need to start getting to where you want to be.

This is important:

You should not go back to another specific session for at least a week.

Ideally I like 12 to 14 days so you can fully absorb the last session.

Even on one week if you try a similar workout, you often do poorly because you are still tired in the specific systems that you need for that session from the last session; you haven’t absorbed enough of the training effect from the first session yet to overcome that fatigue and produce an improved workout.

Remember this:

A poorer workout doesn’t do much for your training and is very disheartening.

A week out is a great place for a 3k or 10k workout, something close to specific but not quite there.

While I follow a marathon training schedule, I often do a specific workout each week, but I change the type so that direct comparisons aren’t as easy and the exact fatigue is a bit different.

How much rest do I need between intervals?

If you learn nothing else from this article:

The single most important variable of any interval workout is the rest.

This is what defines the workout more then any other thing.

On a specific workout for 3k to 10k racing, the rest MUST be jogging or running.

Not standing.

Yes, it is tempting sometimes, but:

We tend to adapt to standing rest way too well and become able to make great gains in our interval performance while seeing little gain in our race performance.

This is the complete opposite of what we want to see.

I worked with a runner who could do 12 x 400m including 30-45 second standing rests in 75 seconds total.

That is a 15:30 5k pace but her best 5k was right around 18 minutes.

The disconnect was huge.

How to complete the “rests” correctly

For these workouts specifically, the jog was at what I would call a slow training pace.

Not a shuffle jog but a slow training pace.

This should be your recovery day pace but not as fast as your steady day training pace.

At times, I like to do longer rests but run them at a light tempo pace or even as fast as marathon pace, but that is mostly a compromise for younger runners who I want to keep aerobically focused year round for the best long term development for athletes trying to run a series of faster 5ks leading up to a goal half marathon.


You’ll notice I did jump up to 200m rests after the 400s, then kept the rests at 200 after that.

Here’s the deal:

There is a huge difference at 5k pace between 400s and 600s so that is a very big jump.

In a 400 rep only the last 100m or so is really tough; in the 600 the last 300 is pretty tough—that is three times as long.

Compare this to jumping up from 600 to 800, where you go from 300 being tough to 500 being tough.

You can also do a cycle where you do, say, 1ks all the way from the start and simply reduce the rest.

Start with 5-6 x 1k at goal pace with 3 minutess standing rest in the late base and the go to 3 minute jog rest, 2:30 jog rest, working down to a one-minute jog rest or a bit less, and you should be ready to rock and roll.

This is a great option for someone who has a decent amount of speed and finds they are pretty comfortable at their 5k goal pace but they just can’t seem to hold it to the finish.

Your final workout before the race

You’ll notice a few days before the goal race I went back to the 12 x 400 with the 100 jog.

I didn’t run the reps any faster.

My rests were still 100m, but I was able, without really trying, to run them at a noticeably quicker pace.

Now the couple of seconds quicker per 100 didn’t feel all that much different in terms of the rhythm of the workout, but it makes a huge difference in terms of the aerobic requirements of the session.

Consider this:

In my first 12 x 400 session I averaged 5:30 mile pace with the recovery jogs included; during this session, I averaged 5:07 pace!

The focus of this workout is a little pace rehearsal and to focus on staying comfortable at pace.

It isn’t nearly as hard as the other sessions, which often are all out by the last couple of reps.

This session you tend to feel at the end like you’re just getting to the point where it is becoming a workout, as though you are 3/4 of the way through a hard session or something like that.

It isn’t easy, but it isn’t a killer either

One more thing:

If you push the rest pace so much that it becomes very hard that is okay.

The volume is low enough, and at four days out, it is far enough from your race that it shouldn’t leave you flat for race day.

What it does do is put a nice little polish on your comfort at speed and prime your body and mind for the rhythm you need to find on race day.

5k 4 week training

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