How to run a 5k in 25 minutes or less

  • Post last modified:October 22, 2021
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A 5k is one of the most popular running events, with events like Parkrun and Race for Life making it one of the simplest ways to get into running. Many runners go on to run a 5k once they finish the Couch to 5k programme, or they build up to the distance on their own.

In this blog, I’d like to share my top tips on how to run a 5k in 25 minutes or less. Running a 5k in 25 minutes or less should not be underestimated – there’s a decent amount of training that you need to do in order to achieve this goal.

If you have run a 5k before and perhaps you want to improve on your time, or if you simply want to know how to run a speedier 5k, then this guide has got you covered.

Over the years, I’ve managed to get my 5k PB down to 22.18. This works out as roughly 7.20 per mile/4.28 per km. Although running isn’t all about race times, it’s always good to be able to show that you’re improving and getting faster.

There some core strategies that you can adopt in order to help you achieve your next 5k personal best. If you think you’re not quite ready to run a 5k in 25 minutes or less, then why not check out my guide on how to run a 5k in 30 minutes or less.

how to run a 5k in 25 minutes or less

How to run a 5k in 25 minutes or less

Break your times down

If you want to know how to run a 5k in 25 minutes or less, one the first things to grasp is pacing. To be able to run a 5k in under 25 minutes, this means you have to run at a pace of around 8 minutes per mile.

This may sound unachievable to you right now, but with the right training and mindset, you will be able to adjust your timings.

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.

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.

The important thing with pacing is that you be consistent. Try and maintain this pace throughout your training so you get your body used to running at such a sustained pace.

Tempo running is great to include in your training plan if you are working towards a sustained pace.

Related: How to pace your run

Follow a training plan

An average training plan for a 5k in 25 minutes or less is about 8 weeks. There will be other factors that may mean your training plan is a lot longer than this. If you’ve never run a 5k before, for example, it would not be sensible to aim for a 25 minute 5k.

Your training plan should include three to four runs per week: one long run, one tempo run or an interval training session, and one or two easy runs.

The long runs could be anything from three to seven miles (5-11 km). Your easy runs should be easy. I recommend a pace of about 10.30 minutes per mile or 6.31 minutes per km.

Start small in week 1 of your plan, then gradually build up your mileage as you reach week 8.

Check out my intermediate 5k training plan if you would like a helping hand. Here I offer a week by week plan, including easy running, speed training and long runs.

Related: How to run for 30 minutes without stopping

how to run a 5k in 25 minutes or less

Do interval training

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. They are designed to make you feel uncomfortable and push you out of your comfort zone.

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.

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

Make sure you schedule in enough recovery time between each interval. One or two minutes should be fine.

Related: 6 interval training benefits for runners

Do tempo runs

As with interval training, tempo runs are a great way to build your speed, endurance and stamina.

Also known as threshold runs, tempo runs are extended efforts of running that is 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 pace throughout the tempo run.

Related: 5 tempo workouts to increase your speed and endurance

how to run a 5k in 25 minutes or less

Strength train

It’s a good idea to include strength workouts in your training plan at least twice a week. My complete guide on strength training for runners has got you covered if you’re new to strength training.

Strength training can take the form of bodyweight exercises (like squats, lunges, push-ups, hip bridges, planks).

It also includes exercises using free weights (like deadlifts, kettlebell swings, weighted lunges, weighted squats, weighted hip bridges). I recommend some of the best free weights in my post on the best home gym equipment for runners.

If you’re new to strength training, I recommend you start with bodyweight exercises and gradually build up into free weight exercises from there.

Focus on doing 8-12 repetitions of each exercise with 1 minute rest in between, and repeat these 3 times.

A good beginner strength workout circuit could include:

  • Squats – 8-12 reps

  • Lunges – 8-12 reps

  • Push-ups – 8-12 reps

  • Hip bridges – 8-12 reps

  • Planks – 8-12 reps

Compound movements (e.g. movements that use the whole body) are a great way for runners to build their strength.

Check out my top 6 simple strength exercises for runners if you’re looking for some simple workouts to include in your routine.

Related: 30 day strength training plan for runners

Strengthen your core

Your core is extremely important when running. A good core means you are able to hold a strong and stable position for longer, thus allowing you hold proper form and posture.

The muscles in your back, stomach and hips are key components for good core strength and all work together to create good posture.

They also help you stand upright, transfer energy and distribute the stress of bearing weight on two legs.

New to core training? Check out my post on core exercises for runners to read about the essential workouts I recommend for every runner.

how to run a 5k in 25 minutes or less

Perfect your form

Believe it or not, proper running form can shave valuable seconds off your running times. By making small adjustments to your posture and form, you can help your body move with less effort.

Try not to look at the ground when running – keep your gaze upright and forward. Imagine you have a helium balloon attached to your head with a piece of string. This is what we call ‘running tall’.

Lift your chin and retract your shoulders back slightly. You’ll find that once you start to raise your hips, the other parts of your body, including your chest and shoulders, will also straighten up.

How you hold and swing your arms makes a big difference to your stride and performance.

Proper arm swing can help you run faster, more efficiently and even lower your risk of injury as well as help stabilise your body.

  • Keep your arms by your sides and try and not let them cross your body.
  • If you let your arms cross your body too much, it will cause rotation in your spine and thorax and will create inefficient running form.
  • Drive your elbows back, keep them close to the sides of your body and keep them relaxed to avoid stiffness in your shoulders.
  • Also remember to keep your elbows at a 90 degree angle.

I’ve also broken down proper running form even further by summarising my 4 top tips on improve running form.

Related: Proper running form: The essential guide to head to toe running form and technique

Don’t forget to warm up

A good warm up on race day is essential if you want to run your best time. Your warm up should include a good range of dynamic stretches to loosen your muscles and get your body ready for the run.

Dynamic stretches are meant to get the body moving, whilst static stretches (normally used in the cool down) are held for a specific length of time.

You may also want to include some running drills in your warm up. These are great for improving your form and performance.

Related: 7 essential running drills to improve running form and performance


Caroline Geoghegan

Caroline Geoghegan (aka Run With Caroline) helps people become faster and stronger runners. She started her blog in 2018 to share her passion for running. Caroline is a UK Athletics qualified Run Leader and Run Coach and NASM qualified Personal Trainer.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Harsh

    Hello Mam,

    Need your view on controlling HR during run

    As my Heart rate shoot up to 200 BPM while running
    Can you suggest how should i control it or any specific low HR training if you can suggest


  2. Clair

    “ Your easy runs should be easy. I recommend a pace of about 10:30 per mile”

    Oh no. My normal pace is about 12 and even then my heart can go up to 170s 🙁

    1. Hi Clair. In order to run a 5k in under 25 minutes then as part of your training plan you’d need to be running at around this pace on your easy runs. Note about 80% of your weekly training should be easy runs. If your pace is slower then you may need more time and training to run at this pace. You can work out your easy run pace by using your current 5k race pace. There are calculators online that allow you to do this.

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