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Train to Run Your Fastest 5K – Intermediate Training Plan

How to Improve Your 5K Time


Updated April 08, 2014

Runners feet John Foxx

So you've already run at least one 5K road race and now you're moving on to your next goal: Improving your time! To achieve a personal record (PR) in the 5K, you'll definitely need to add speed training to your training regimen, if you haven't already. Below is an eight-week 5K training schedule to help you run your fastest 5K. If this schedule seems too challenging for you, try the advanced beginner 5K training schedule. If it seems too easy, try the advanced 5K training schedule .

Notes about the schedule:

Crossing-training (CT): Cross-training activities allow you to give your joints and running muscles a break, while still working on your cardio. When the schedule calls for CT, do a cardio activity other than running (e.g., biking, swimming, elliptical trainer) at moderate effort for 45-60 minutes.

Tempo Run: Tempo runs help you develop your anaerobic threshold, which is critical for fast 5K racing. Start your run with 5-10 minutes easy running, then continue with 15-20 minutes running near your 10K pace (but not at race pace), and finish with 5-10 minutes cooling down. If you're not sure what your 10K pace is, run at a pace that feels "comfortably hard."

Interval workouts (IW): After a warm-up, run 400 meters (one lap around most tracks) hard, and then recover by jogging or walking 400 meters. So 3 x 400 would be three hard 400s, with a 400 m recovery in between.

Rest: Rest is critical to your recovery and injury prevention efforts, so don't ignore rest days. Your muscles actually build and repair themselves during your rest days. So if you run every day without taking days off, you won’t see much improvement. Fridays are a good day for rest because you just did a speed workout on Thursday and you have your longest run of the week tomorrow.

Saturday long runs: After you warm up, run at a comfortable pace for the designated mileage. Make sure you cool down and stretch after your run. If most of your runs are on the road and you're not sure how far you run, you can figure out the mileage by using sites such as MapMyRun.com. Or, you can always drive your route in your car and measure the mileage using your car odometer.

Sundays: This is an active recovery day. Your run should be at an easy (EZ), comfortable pace, which helps loosen up your muscles.

You can switch days to accommodate your schedule. Just make sure you don't do two intense speed workouts two days in a row.


5K Training Schedule for Intermediate Runners

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 CT or Rest 3 x 400 IW 2 m run 30 min tempo Rest 5 m run 30 min EZ
2 CT or Rest 4 x 400 IW 2 m run 30 min tempo Rest 5 m run 35 min EZ
3 CT or Rest 4 x 400 IW 3 m run 30 min tempo Rest 6 m run 35 min EZ
4 CT or Rest 5 x 400 IW 3 m run 35 min tempo Rest 6 m run 40 min EZ
5 CT or Rest 5 x 400 IW 3 m run 35 min tempo Rest 7 m run 35 min EZ
6 CT or Rest 6 x 400 IW 3 m run 40 min tempo Rest 6 m run 40 min EZ
7 CT or Rest 6 x 400 IW 3 m run 40 min tempo Rest 7 m run 45 min EZ
8 CT or Rest 3 m run 30 min tempo run 2 m run Rest Rest 5K Race!
Related Video
How to Prep for a 5K Race

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