Training for a 5K Race

A Four-Week Plan For Advanced Runners

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You've finally done it—signed up to run your first 5K race. You have a month to train for it. If you're an advanced runner who currently logs at least 20 miles a week, the program that follows will have you up to speed in four weeks.

Training Notes

To understand the week-by-week advanced 5K training schedule that follows, first learn what each term stands for so you'll know exactly what to do each day.advanced 5K training schedule that follows, first learn what each term stands for so you'll know exactly what to do each day.

Tempo Runs (TR). Tempo runs help you develop your anaerobic threshold, which is critical for fast 5K racing. Start your run with 10 minutes easy running, then continue with 15 to 20 minutes running at a pace that's about 10 seconds per mile slower than your 10K race pace. Wind up with a 10-minute cool-down. If you're not sure what your 10K race pace is, run at a pace that feels "comfortably hard."

Hill Repeats (HR). For hill repeats, find a slope that's not too steep and that's 200 to 400 meters long. Run up the hill at your 5K race pace. Recover with an easy jog down the hill. 

5K Interval Workouts. Run your interval workouts at your 5K race pace, with a two-minute easy-paced recovery in between each interval. You should start and finish your 5K interval workouts with one mile of easy running to warm up and cool down.

Long Runs (LR).  You're not training for a long distance event, but long runs will help you develop your stamina, which is important in 5K racing.

Do your long runs at a comfortable pace: You should be able to breathe easily and talk in complete sentences. Your easy runs (ER) should also be done at this effort.

Rest Days. On rest days, you can take the day off or do some easy cross-training (CT), such as biking, swimming, or another activity. Strength training is an excellent way to improve your endurance, running performance, and increase your injury resistance.

4-Week Advanced 5K Training Schedule

Week 1
Day 1: 40 minutes CT or rest
Day 2: 25 minutes TR plus three hill repeats
Day 3: 3 to 4 miles ER
Day 4: 5 minutes at 5K effort (three times)
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: 7 miles LR
Day 7: 3 miles ER

Week 2 
Day 1: 45 minutes CT or Rest
Day 2: 30 minutes TR plus four hill repeats
Day 3: 3 to 4 miles ER
Day 4: 5 minutes at 5K effort (four times)
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: 8 miles LR
Day 7: 3 miles ER

Week 3 
Day 1: 40 minutes CT or rest
Day 2: 25 minutes TR plus four hill repeats
Day 3: 3 to 4 miles ER
Day 4: 5 minutes at 5K effort (three times)
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: 7 miles LR
Day 7: 3 miles ER

Week 4 
Day 1: 30 minutes CT
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: 20 minutes TR
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: 2 to 3 miles ER
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: 5K Race day— good luck!

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