How to run a 5k in sub 20 minutes! (Training Plan)

Craving a 5k personal record? Then this is for you! The following plan will take the guesswork out of training. You want to break a 5k in 20 minutes? This program will tell you exactly how often, how fast and how far you need to run each day to meet your goal. By following the guidelines above, we promise that

your next 5k will be your very best.

Program Guidelines

With this plan we assume you have already run a minimum of one 5k race. If you haven’t - don’t worry! 5ks are easy to find. In many areas of the country, there are local races nearly every weekend of the year. Try one out to test your speed, and then come back to this program when you’re ready. Each plan is comprised of three key workouts (Long Run, Intervals, Tempo). You will run these workouts every week, preferably on non-consecutive days (e.g. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). These are the runs that will build your speed and endurance. In addition to the three quality runs, the plans include one to two additional easy runs per week to help build your mileage base. Fill any remaining days with rest or light training activities. One day every week will always be committed to total rest and recovery.

Training Key

Long Run (LR)
Long runs develop the aerobic capacity and endurance necessary for covering the race distance. Your pace should stay fairly comfortable, although fatigue will build up toward the end.

Some long runs will end with five to 15 minutes of running at a slightly quicker pace to teach your body to pick
it up when you’re fatigued. The pace translates to roughly 20 to 30 seconds per mile faster than your normal long run pace.

Fartlek (F)
In fartlek workouts, you’ll mix up your speed, running some segments fast and some slow. The “hard” segments should be run at goal 5k pace or a bit quicker. Make sure to run at a pace that you can maintain throughout the entire effort. Start with a warm up of 10 to 15 minutes of easy jogging. Jog or walk the recovery time between hard effort, and then finish with a five to 10 minute easy cool down.

Hill Repeats (HI)
Hill sessions strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calf muscles, which will equate to faster running on all terrain. After warming up for 10 to 15 minutes, run up a hill with a moderate grade for the amount about the same as 5k race effort, although the pace will likely be slower. If you live in a flat area, find a bridge or use a treadmill. Walk or jog back down the hill for recovery and repeat the effort when you reach the bottom.

Race Pace (RP)
Race pace workouts require you to run at your goal 5k pace. This workout teaches your body what the pace feels like, and increases your ability to hold RP for an extended period of time. Start and finish each workout with 10 to 15 minutes of light jogging.

Tempo (T)
Tempo runs build stamina. Tempos are performed at a comfortably hard pace. Breathing will be slightly laboured, but you should be relaxed and able to maintain an even pace. Begin T sessions with 10 to 15 minutes of easy running as a warm up. Start the T portion of the run as indicated, and ease into your pace. End the workout with a five to 10 minute easy cool down.

Easy Runs (Friday)
Sprinkled throughout each plan are easy runs. Easy runs are just that, easy. These runs are used for recovery, as well as just getting time on your legs.

5kTraining plan

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