The 5k is one of the world’s most popular running distances.
Being able to run a 5k in under 25 minutes is a goal for many runners who are wanting to achieve their next 5k PB or simply improve their 5k race time.
Running a 5k in under 25 minutes should not be underestimated – there’s a fair amount of training that goes into running a 5k at the pace required for a 25 minute 5k.
The good news is that this guide will provide you with some some tips and strategies so you can run a 5k in under 25 minutes.
In this article we’ll explore:
- Am I ready to run a 5k in under 25 minutes?
- What pace is a 25 minute 5k?
- What is included in a 25 minute 5k training plan?
- 7 tips to run a 5k in under 25 minutes
Am I ready to run a 5k in under 25 minutes?
When it comes to running a faster 5k, you will need to take into consideration your current race times.
If your current 5k race time is between 32 and 35 minutes or above, then you may benefit from my guide on how to run a 5k in 30 minutes or less.
If you’ve never run a 5k before, then I suggest you check out my Couch to 5k training plan.
What pace is a 25 minute 5k?
One the first things to master if you want to run a 5k in under 25 minutes is pacing.
Pacing is basically the ability to determine how quickly you need to run in order to achieve your goal race time.
In order to be able to run a 5k in under 25 minutes, you need to be running at a pace of 8:03 minutes per mile / 5 minutes per km.
This may sound unachievable to you right now, but with the right training and mindset, you will be able to improve your pace.
If you’ve run a 5k already, you can calculate how much faster you’ll need to go in order to hit the 25 minute mark.
A good way to work it out is do a time trial.
To do this, warm up then run a mile as fast as you can. Multiply that by 3.1 to estimate your 5k time.
You probably won’t be able to sustain your fastest mile three times over, but it gives you an idea of what you need to work towards.
It’s important to note that your pace on an easy run won’t be the same as your pace during a speed workout such as tempo running.
Likewise your pace during a 5k run won’t be the same as your pace during a 10k run, so it’s crucial you identify your pace across the different types of runs.
You can easily work out what your pace should be by using a running pace calculator. A pace calculator works by determining your pace per mile for a given distance.
Simply enter any two variables – pace, time or distance – into the calculator and it will determine your pace.
What is included in a 25 minute 5k training plan?
A good, well-rounded 25 minute 5k training plan will include the following:
- 1-3 easy runs
- 1 long run
- 1 speed training session – either an interval training or tempo running session, normally done before your long run.
- 1 strength training or cross training session
The easy runs should be run at a comfortable pace so you are able to hold a conversation without getting out of breath.
Each easy run will be anything between 1-2 miles / 1.5-3.2 km, normally done mid-week.
Easy runs are included in the plan to help you recover from the harder sessions like long runs and speed training.
The long run is the mainstay of any 25 minute 5k training plan.
Your long run should be between 3 and 7 miles (5-11km), normally done on a Saturday or Sunday, with the distance low at the start of the training plan and then gradually increasing.
The pace in your long run should be slower than your goal race pace.
A pace of about 10.30 minutes per mile / 6.31 minutes per km should be suitable if you are aiming to run a 5k in under 25 minutes.
The speed training session is where you will push yourself out of your comfort zone and increase your pace.
Speed training sessions like interval training or tempo running should feel ‘comfortably hard’. They are designed to push you out of your comfort zone to get you used to running at a faster pace.
Interval training is a great way to increase your speed, endurance and stamina, and is a sure fire way to help you run for longer without getting so tired.
Intervals are short bursts of running at your desired 5k pace with rest and recovery periods in between.
A typical interval workout is 4 x 400m of running with recovery jogs in between.
You should aim to run each 400m interval at your 5k pace (so whatever you clocked for your fastest mile) and schedule enough recovery time between each interval – one or two minutes should be fine.
As your training plan progresses, you may want to increase the amount of intervals. For example:
- Week 1 – 3 x 400m
- Week 2 – 4 x 400m
- Week 3 – 4 x 400m
- Week 4 – 5 x 400m
- Week 5 – 6 x 400m
- Week 6 – 7 x 400m
- Week 7 – 8 x 400m
- Week 8 – 6 x 400m
You can also base your intervals on time instead of distance using the workout plan below.
Run at your 5k pace for 1 minute, then complete a 2 minute recovery walk or jog in between each interval.
- Week 1 – 3 x 1 minute intervals
- Week 2 – 4 x 1 minute intervals
- Week 3 – 4 x 1 minute intervals
- Week 4 – 5 x 1 minute intervals
- Week 5 – 5 x 1 minute intervals
- Week 6 – 6 x 1 minute intervals
- Week 7 – 6 x 1 minute intervals
- Week 8 – 4 x 1 minute intervals
Also known as threshold runs, tempo runs are extended efforts of running that should be about 30 seconds slower than your 5k race pace.
A good way to include tempo runs in your training routine is to book-end them during your easy run.
So your easy run could look like this:
- Warm up
- 15-20 minutes of tempo running (your 5k race pace + 30 seconds per mile)
- 35-45 minute easy run (10:30-11:00 pace per mile/6:31-6:54 per km)
- 15-20 minutes of tempo running (your 5k race pace + 30 seconds per mile)
- Cool down
The important thing to remember with tempo runs is that you stick to your planned tempo race pace throughout the run.
Consistency is key!
This way your body gets used to running at a faster pace for sustained efforts.
Related: What is a tempo run?
Strength training (also known as resistance training) is recommended any runner looking to learn to become a faster and stronger runner.
It can take the form of bodyweight exercises (squats, lunges, push-ups, hip bridges, planks) as well as exercises using free weights (deadlifts, kettlebell swings, weighted lunges, weighted squats, weighted hip bridges).
If you’re new to strength training, start with bodyweight exercises first and then gradually build up into free weight exercise programme from there.
Here are a few sample strength workouts.
Focus on doing 8-12 repetitions of each exercise with 1 minute rest in between, and repeat these 3 times.
Strength workout routine #1
- Hip bridge
- Mountain climbers
- Plank – hold for 30 seconds
Strength workout routine #2
- Plank – hold for 30 seconds
- Side plank – hold for 30 seconds
- Superman pull
- Bicycle kicks
- Glute bridge
Cross training can be seen as ‘active recovery’. Aerobic activities like walking, cycling, swimming and yoga are all great cross training activities for runners.
Don’t be tempted to go all out on your cross training days though. Cross training should be gentle, after all you’ll be doing it on your recovery days.
7 tips to run a 5k in under 25 minutes
#1 Perfect your form
Believe it or not, proper running form can shave off valuable seconds off your running times.
By making small adjustments to your running form, you can help your body move with less effort and more efficiency.
Proper running form can also help to reduce the risk of common running injuries like IT band syndrome, runner’s knee and shin splints.
Whilst you can find a full breakdown of proper running form in my essential guide to proper running form, here are a few simple tips:
- Try not to look at the ground when running – keep your gaze upright and forward.
- Lift your chin and retract your shoulders back slightly.
- Keep your arms by your sides (try not to let them cross your body) and keep them relaxed to avoid stiffness.
- Don’t overstride – your foot should land under your hips or slightly in front of you.
- Keep your knees soft and bent and let your heels float up behind you.
#2 Practice your race pace during training
As mentioned earlier, in order to run a sub-25 minute 5k, you need to be able to run at a pace of 8:03 minutes per mile / 5:00 minutes per kilometre.
The best way to enhance your chances of being able to do this on race day is to practice this pace intermittently throughout your training plan.
Try and maintain this pace on ‘pace’ runs so you get your body used to running at a faster pace.
The important thing with pacing is that you be consistent.
#3 Sign up for the right race
In order to increase your chances of running a sub-25 minute 5k, you’ll want a race course that is fairly flat, without too many turns or uneven terrain.
It’s also a good idea to avoid any race that you know will be crowded on race day. This makes it that much harder to get a personal best.
#4 Fuel your race properly
Eat well and stay hydrated ahead of race day. This is just as important as the running training plan itself.
Aim to eat a healthy diet that includes the right amounts of carbs, protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.
Check out my guide on what to eat before a run for more advice and tips.
#5 Don’t forget to warm up
A good warm up on race day is essential to prepare your mind and body for the run ahead.
Your warm up should include a light jog and a good range of dynamic stretches (e.g. leg swings, butt kicks, high knees) to loosen your muscles and get your body ready for the run.
You may also want to include some running drills in your warm up – these are great for improving your running form and performance.
As soon as you start the race you’ll want to accelerate to your goal race pace as soon as possible to be in a chance of achieving your goal race time.
Consider lining up close to the front at the start line along with the faster runners. If you don’t do this you risk getting stuck behind some slower runners.
Check your running watch to ensure you aren’t running too fast – you don’t want to burn out too soon.
Equally, check that you’re not running too slow. Practice what you learnt during training.
#7 Cool down
Don’t forget to cool down after your race. This will help with the recovery process and will help to reduce any muscle soreness after your run.
Focus on static stretches in the cool down. These are stretches where you hold a stretch for between 30-45 seconds.