Intermediate Training Plan to Run Your Fastest 5K

How to Improve Your Time

2018 St. Jude Rock 'n' Roll Nashville Marathon & 1/2

Donald Miralle / Stringer/Getty Images  

If you've already run at least one 5K road race, you may be ready to move on to the next goal of improving your finish time. To achieve a personal record (PR) in the 5K, you'll need to add speed training to your training regimen, if you haven't already. You can use this eight-week 5K training schedule to help you run your fastest 5K. If this schedule appears to be too challenging for you, try the advanced beginner 5K training schedule.

If it seems too easy, try the advanced 5K training schedule.

Workouts in the Training Schedule

Tempo Run: Tempo runs help you develop your anaerobic threshold, which is critical for fast 5K racing. Start your run with 5 to 10 minutes easy running, then continue with 15 to 20 minutes running near your 10K pace (but not at race pace), and finish with 5 to 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. A notation of 3 x 400 would be three hard 400-meter laps, each with a 400-meter recovery in between. Make sure you cool down with a 10-minute easy jog.

Saturday long runs: After you warm up, run at a comfortable, conversational 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 apps or sites such as MapMyRun.com or RunKeeper. Or, you can always drive your route in your car and measure the mileage using your car odometer.

Sunday EZ: This is an active recovery day.

Your run should be at an easy (EZ), comfortable pace, which helps loosen up your muscles.

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 a moderate effort for 45 to 60 minutes.

Rest: Rest is critical for your recovery and injury prevention efforts, so don't ignore rest days. Your muscles actually build and repair themselves during your rest days. 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.

Modifying the schedule: 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

WeekMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
1CT or Rest3 x 400 IW2-mile run30-minute tempo runRest5-mile long run30 minutes EZ
2CT or Rest4 x 400 IW2-mile run30-minute tempo runRest5-mile long run35 minutes EZ
3CT or Rest4 x 400 IW3-mile run30-minute tempo runRest6-mile long run35 minutes EZ
4CT or Rest5 x 400 IW3-mile run35-minute tempo runRest6-mile long run40 minutes EZ
5CT or Rest5 x 400 IW3-mile run35-minute tempo runRest7-mile long run35 minutes EZ
6CT or Rest6 x 400 IW3-mile run40-minute tempo runRest6-mile long run40 minutes EZ
7CT or Rest6 x 400 IW3-mile run40-minute tempo runRest7-mile long run45 minutes EZ
8CT or Rest3-mile run30-minute tempo run2-mile runRestRest5K Race
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