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How to run a 5k in under 25 minutes

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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:

  • How long is a 5k?
  • How long does it take to run a 5k?
  • What is the average time to run a 5k?
  • Are you ready to run a 5k in under 25 minutes?
  • How to calculate your 5k race pace
  • What should be included in a 25 minute 5k training plan?
  • 7 tips to run a 5k in under 25 minutes

Ready?

Let’s go!

how to run a 5k in 25 minutes or less

How long is a 5k?

A 5k in miles is 3.1 miles. This is exactly half the distance of a 10k which is 6.2 miles.

Related: How many miles is a 5k? Average 5k times + 6 race day tips

How long does it take to run a 5k?

How long it takes you to run a 5k will depend on various factors, including your age, gender, fitness levels and running experience.

Even the weather and terrain can impact your race time.

  • If you’re a beginner runner, you can expect to run a 5k in between 32 to 40 minutes.
  • If you’re a novice runner, you can expect to run a 5k in between 27 to 33 minutes.
  • If you’re an intermediate runner, you can expect to run a 5k in between 23 to 29 minutes.
  • If you’re an advanced runner, you can expect to run a 5k in between 20 to 25 minutes.
  • If you’re an elite runner, you can expect to run a 5k in between 18 to 22 minutes.

Related: The ultimate advanced 5k training plan

What is the average time to run a 5k?

The average time to run a 5k across all ages and genders is 23:58.

For men, the average time to run a 5k is 22:31.

For women, the average time to run a 5k is 26:07.

Related: What is a good 5k time? Average 5k time by age and gender

how to run a 5k in under 25 minutes

Are you 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 5k pace.

This will give you an indication whether you are ready to run a 25 minute 5k.

Your pace is how quickly you need to run in order to achieve your goal race time of 25 minutes or less.

In order to run a 5k in under 25 minutes, you need to be running at a pace of 8:03 minutes per mile or 5 minutes per kilometre.

This may sound unachievable to you right now, but with the right training and mindset, you will be able to improve your pace and increase your speed.

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.

How to calculate your 5k race pace

Time trial

A good way to work out how much faster you need to run in order to run a 25 minute 5k is to do a time trial:

  1. Warm up then run a mile as fast as you can.
  2. 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 the time trial will give you an idea of what you need to work towards.

Running pace calculator

You can also easily work out what your pace should be by using a running pace calculator.

A pace calculator works by determining your pace per mile or kilometre for a given distance.

Simply enter any two variables into the calculator (e.g. pace, time or distance) and it will determine the race pace that 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.

The race equivalency calculator from Luke Humphrey is a good tool to use to work this out.

Related: How to pace your run

What should be included in a 25 minute 5k training plan?

A good, well-rounded 25 minute 5k training plan should include the following runs and workouts:

It will also include 1-2 rest days.

Easy runs

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, and normally make up 70-80% of your training plan.

Long run

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 (e.g. 8:03 minutes per mile / 5:00 minutes per km on race day).

Speed training

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:

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

Related: 6 interval training benefits for runners

Tempo running:

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
  • 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?

run a 5k in under 25 minutes

Strength training

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

  • Squat
  • Lunge
  • Push-up
  • Hip bridge
  • Mountain climbers
  • Plank – hold for 30 seconds

Strength workout routine #2

  • Plank – hold for 30 seconds
  • Side plank – hold for 30 seconds
  • V-up
  • Superman pull
  • Bicycle kicks
  • Glute bridge

Cross training

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.

Rest days

Rest days are important to allow your body to recover after each run and in between runs.

Don’t be tempted to run every day of the plan as you could risk burnout or injury. 

Related: The ultimate intermediate 5k training plan

how to run a 5k in 25 minutes or less

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 throughout your training so that you become used to running at such a speed.

Try and maintain this pace on some of your 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 Refuel and hydrate

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.

#6 Accelerate!

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.

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Clair

Thursday 5th of August 2021

“ 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 :(

Caroline Geoghegan

Friday 6th of August 2021

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.

Harsh

Saturday 15th of May 2021

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

Regards Harsh