5K Training Program For Intermediate Level Competitive Distance Runners

 

By Rick Morris

 

5K races have become the most popular road racing distance. There is a 5K race almost every weekend in most areas. The 5K offers a something for everyone. The relatively short distance makes it achievable for novice runners and the need for sustained speed supplies a challenge for more advanced runners. The need for long distance sustained speed also makes it a perfect “time trial” or training run for longer distances such as 10K’s and marathons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Week training cycle

 

This is a 12-week cycle that designed to prepare an intermediate competitor to peak for a 5K race. The peak developed from this program may be maintained for approximately 1 to 3 weeks. After the completion of the 12-week cycle, there should be a short period of rest and reduced mileage, followed by the start of a new training cycle at a higher level.

 

An intermediate competitor is an athlete that has been racing for at least one season and has been following a structured training program for at least one season. The move between the beginning competitors program and the intermediate competitors program will require more high intensity workouts and a bit higher overall mileage. The difference between beginning, intermediate and advanced competitors is not necessarily one of finishing time or position. It is more of a state of mind and the dedication to a year round training program.

 

This program is general in nature. Feel free to make adjustments in order to accommodate scheduling conflicts and individual goals and rate of improvement.

 

The Workouts

 

This program contains rest days, easy runs, long runs, speed training workouts, lactate threshold workouts, form drills and strength training. This training program is designed to build speed, improve speed endurance and increase both general and functional strength.

 

Easy Runs

 

Easy runs should be run at a pace that feels fairly comfortable. You should be breathing hard, but should be able to carry on a conversation. If you are breathing so hard that you cannot talk, you are running too hard. If you can sing, you are running too easily.

 

Rest

 

Rest is a very important part of any training program. Without proper rest, your muscles and connective tissues will not have an opportunity to recover and strengthen properly. On the days calling for complete rest, do no strenuous activity. On the days calling for rest or cross training, you can rest totally or do some cross training. Cross training can be any activity other than running. You could go for a walk, swim, bicycle or do nothing. It is up to you.

 

Long Runs

 

Long runs are over distance runs or runs that are a bit longer than the goal distance. This type of run builds strength, endurance and improves the confidence to complete long race distances.

 

Speed Training

 

Speed training is short to medium length repeats that are run at paces that range from race pace to an all out effort. The goal of this type of workout is to improve overall speed and the ability to maintain a quality pace for long distances.

 

Lactate Threshold Workouts

 

Lactic acid is a natural by-product of energy production. Normally, excess lactic acid is converted to energy. When the intensity of your running reaches a certain point, more lactic acid is produced than your body can process. This causes a decrease in the efficiency of your muscles. The point at which lactic acid begins to accumulate in your muscles is your lactate threshold. The goal of these workouts is to raise your lactate threshold level.

 

Strength Training

 

A proper strength training program will improve your speed, power, running economy and help prevent injuries. Strength training should be performed two or three times per week.

 

During the initial stages of your training cycle, you should perform your strength training with a high number of repetitions and at a low level of intensity. As your running program progresses, so should your strength training. Gradually increase the intensity and decrease the number of repetitions.

 

There are three types of strength training exercises that you should perform: General strength exercises; running specific exercises and plyometric exercises. General strength exercises will build overall upper and lower body strength. Running specific exercises will strengthen the motions that are specific to running. Plyometric exercises are explosive strength exercises that will improve your running specific strength, power and economy.

 

For more information see the strength training section and the additional articles in the various race-training sections.

 

Form Drills

 

Form drills are designed to improve your running form, technique and economy. Running economy is a measure of the efficiency of your running. The goal is to run efficiently with the least amount of effort.

 

Standard Warm Up

 

The following routine should be followed whenever a warm up is called for: Run easy for 10 minutes or until you feel loose, stretch, run 4 x 100 meter acceleration strides, perform 5 minutes of form drills.

 

 

 

Week 1

 

Monday – Rest.

 

Rest is not just a day off; it is an important and planned part of a training program. Rest allows your muscles to recover and strengthen.

 

Tuesday – 30-minute fartlek run. Fartlek is a Swedish word for speed play. This is a non-structured workout in which you run at a steady pace and add in short surges of faster running. For this workout, alternate running for 5 minutes at an easy pace with 1 minute at 5K pace.

 

Wednesday – Run 4 miles easy. Avoid the temptation to increase your pace on these easy run days. You will have many opportunities to run hard. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday – Standard warm up. Run 4 x 400 meters at 5 seconds per mile faster than your current 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Run 4 x 200 meters at full, but controlled pace. Jog for 100 meters between repeats. Jog for 800 meters between the two sets. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Friday – Run 4 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday – Run 4 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday – Standard warm up. Run 3 miles at 15 seconds per mile slower than your 10K pace, or if you do not do 10K’s about 30 seconds per mile slower than your 5K pace.

 

 

 

Week 2

 

Monday – Rest

 

Tuesday – Standard warm up, run 3 x 800 meter repeats at 5 seconds per mile faster than your 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Run 6 x 200 meter repeats at full but controlled pace. Jog for 100 meters between repeats. Jog for 800 meters between the two sets. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday – Run 4 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday – Standard warm up. Run 6 x 400 meter repeats at 15 seconds per mile faster than your 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Run 4 x 200 meters at full but controlled pace. Jog for 100 meters between repeats. Jog for 800 meters between the two sets. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Friday – Run 4 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday – Run 4 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday – Run 4 miles at 15 seconds per mile slower than your 10K pace or about 30 seconds per mile slower than your 5K pace.

 

 

 

Week 3

 

Monday – Rest

 

Tuesday – Standard warm up. Run 2 x 1600 meter repeats at 5K pace. Jog for 800 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday – Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday – Standard warm up. Run 8 x 400 meter repeats at 15 seconds per mile faster than your current 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Run 4 x 200 meter repeats at full but controlled pace. Jog for 100 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Friday – Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday – Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday – Standard warm up. Run 5 miles at 15 seconds per mile slower than your 10K pace or 30 seconds per mile slower than your 5K pace.

 

 

 

Week 4

 

Monday – Rest

 

Tuesday – Standard warm up, run 6 x hill repeats. Find a hill that is fairly steep and at least 100 meters in length. Run up the hill at a pace that feels like 5K pace. Run 20 meters past the top of the hill and jog back down. Repeat this 6 times.

 

Wednesday – Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday – Standard warm up. 3 x 400/800 meter supersets. Run 400 meters at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace, then slow down to 5K pace for 800 meters. Do not rest between the two distances. Recover between the three sets with 800 meters at an easy pace. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Friday – Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday – Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday – Standard warm up. Run 6 miles at 15 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace or 30 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace.

 

 

 

Week 5

 

Monday – Rest

 

Tuesday – Standard warm up. Run 3 x 1200 meter repeats at 5K pace. Jog for 800 meters between repeats. Run 4 x 400 meters at 15 seconds faster than your 5K pace. Jog for 200 meters between repeats. Jog for 800 meters between the two sets. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday – Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday – Standard warm up. Run 2 x (4 x 400) meter repeats at 5 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Run the last 400 meter repeat of each set at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Run at an easy pace for 200 meters between each 400 meter repeat. Run at an easy pace for 800 meters between the sets. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Friday – Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday – Run 5 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday – Standard warm up. Run for 20 minutes at 10K pace or 15 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace. Cool down with 1 mile at an easy pace.

 

 

 

Week 6

 

Monday – Rest

 

Tuesday – Standard warm up, run 8 x hill repeats. Run the repeats at what feels like 5K pace. Run 20 to 50 meters past the top of the hill. Jog back down.

 

Wednesday – Run 6 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday – Standard warm up. Run 20 minutes alternating between 30 seconds at 20 seconds per mile faster than your 5K pace and 30 seconds at an easy pace. Cool down with 5 minutes at an easy pace.

 

Friday – Run 6 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday – Run 6 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday – Standard warm up. Run 7 miles at 15 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace or 30 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace.

 

 

 

Week 7

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 3 x 1600 meter repeats at 5K pace. Jog 800 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 6 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 3 x 1200 meter repeats at 5 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Recover between the repeats by running at an easy pace for 800 meters. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 6 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 2 x 2400 meter repeats at 10K pace or 15 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace. Recover between the repeats by running at an easy pace for 800 meters. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

 

 

Week 8

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run for 2 miles on a trail that is consistently and gradually uphill. Run at a pace that is hard, but not maximal. Run down the hill at an easy pace. If you do not have an uphill trail in your area, you can do this workout on a treadmill that is elevated at 3 to 5 degrees.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday> - Standard warm up. Run for 30 minutes alternating between 30 seconds at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace and 30 seconds at an easy pace. Cool down with 5 minutes at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 2 x 3200 meter repeats at 10K pace or 15 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace. Jog for 5 minutes between repeats.

 

 

 

Week 9

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 4 x 1600 meter repeats at 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 3 x 600/1200 meter supersets. Run 600 meters at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace, then slow down to 5K pace for 1200 meters. Do not rest between the two distances. Recover between the three sets with 800 meters of easy running. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 5000 meters at 10K pace or 15 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace.

 

 

 

Week 10

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 4 x 1200 meter repeats at 5 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Recover between the 4 repeats with 400 meters of easy running. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 3 x 600/1200 meter supersets. Run 600 meters at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace, then slow down to 5K pace for 1200 meters. Recover between the 3 sets with 400 meters at an easy pace. Cool down with 800 meters of easy running.

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 8 miles. Run 7 miles easy and then speed up to 5K pace for the last mile.

 

 

 

Week 11

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 3 x 1600 meter repeats at 5 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Run 4 x 400 meters at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Jog for 200 meters between the repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 2 x 400/1200/400 meter supersets. Run 400 meters at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace, 1200 meters at 5 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace and 400 more meters at 20 seconds faster than 5K pace. Do not rest between the distances. Recover between the two sets with 800 meters at an easy pace. Cool down with 800 meters of easy running..

 

Friday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 7 miles at 15 seconds per mile slower than your 10K pace or 30 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace.

 

 

 

Week 12

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 2 x 1200 meter repeats at 5K pace. Run at an easy pace for 400 meters between the repeats. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Wednesday - Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 4 x 800 meter repeats at slightly faster than 5K pace. Run easy for 200 meters between the repeats. Run 2 x 400 meter repeats at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Run easy for 200 meters between the repeats. Run easy for 800 meters to cool down.

 

Friday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Rest

 

Sunday - RACE DAY!

 

 

 

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