Training for a 5K Race


Training for a 5k can be a lot of fun, and is a great fitness milestone to reach. The 5k (3.1 miles) is one of the most popular running races today, and chances are there’s one being run close to your home. It’s a great race for beginners, those getting back into it, or the advanced runner.

Is this your first race? Don’t worry. The 10-week plan on the Start Running page is ample training for a 5k finish. If this is your first 5k race, your goal should be to finish. Be sure to gauge your pace from training runs and try to stay on a steady pace with a strong finish. Starting out too quickly can lead to a miserable experience. Check out the beginner running tips for some more training guidance.

If you’ve got one or two races under your belt and are ready to start training for a 5k goal time, be sure to set a time that’s within reach. A time that is more than 10-15% better than your best time could be very difficult to attain in a short training window. You’ll know what is reasonable based on your training. Use the race prediction and pace calculators to help refine your goal.

If you were once a high school, college, or other competitive runner...one word of caution: Please don’t compete against the past...yet. I have been much more motivated since I have wiped the slate clean. Who knows? May be I’ll actually approach those times again...someday ;-). But for now, it’s nice to not have that added internal pressure that I was much faster when I was 17!

After you’ve run one, you’ll likely be hooked. There’s something about competing with yourself and getting your best time that’s just exhilarating. A PR (personal record) is a big deal. Don’t wait too long after achieving a PR to set your next goal. The post-PR letdown is soon to follow. Sometimes the thrill of the chase is in the chase itself. Once you’re training for the next goal, you’ll get that familiar drive and tenacity back. If you're goal is to break 20 minutes in the 5k, below is a solid 6-week plan to help you meet your goal. It assumes that you...

  • Have a best 5k time of 22 minutes or faster

  • Have a solid running base of 20-25 miles per week (>3 months)

  • Have a best mile time of 6:00 or faster

Training for a 5k: Under 20 min.



Week 1
Mon 3-5 miles easy
Tue 5-mile tempo run
Wed 3-5 miles easy
Thu 4x440 @ 1:30 pace (2-mile warm-up & cool-down)
Fri Rest or XT
Sat Long Run: 7 miles easy
Sun Rest or XT
Week 2
Mon 3-5 miles easy
Tue 5-mile tempo run
Wed 3-5 miles easy
Thu 6x440 @ 1:30 pace (2-mile warm-up & cool-down)
Fri Rest or XT
Sat Long Run: 8 miles easy
Sun Rest or XT
Week 3
Mon 3-5 miles easy
Tue 5-mile tempo run
Wed 3-5 miles easy
Thu 8x440 @ 1:30 pace (2-mile warm-up & cool-down)
Fri Rest or XT
Sat Long Run: 9 miles easy
Sun Rest or XT
Week 4
Mon 3-5 miles easy
Tue 5-mile tempo run
Wed 3-5 miles easy
Thu 10x440 @ 1:30 pace (2-mile warm-up & cool-down)
Fri Rest or XT
Sat Long Run: 10 miles easy
Sun Rest or XT
Week 5
Mon 3-5 miles easy
Tue 5-mile tempo run
Wed 3-5 miles easy
Thu 12x440 @ 1:30 pace (2-mile warm-up & cool-down)
Fri Rest or XT
Sat Long Run: 8 miles easy
Sun Rest or XT
Week 6
Mon 3-5 miles easy
Tue 3-5 miles easy
Wed Rest
Thu 3 mile run (brisk - 7:30 pace)
Fri Rest
Sat Race Day (5k) - 19:36

On the tempo run days, ease into a pace that’s close to race pace for the middle mile or two and then ease back into a slower pace. As you continue to train, you can use these days at ‘Fartlek’ days where you incorporate speed work into a longer run.

On rest / XT days make sure that you rest your running muscles. Cross Training (XT) on a stair-climber or treadmill is not advised. Try a stationary bike, rowing machine, or simply go for a walk that day. Allow time for the muscles to rebuild after your hard workouts.

Properly training for a 5k will give you the confidence that you will meet your goal, because you’ve properly trained for it. If you narrowly missed your goal – don’t hang your head. Sign up for the next race and adjust your training plan. Remember all those people on the race course that were cheering you on? They didn’t know that you missed your goal...in fact, you were likely an inspiration to many of them! Keep up the good work.



Leave Training for a 5K & return to Running Races



Follow us:



Free Pass


The Fitness Motivator

Promote Your Page Too