Intermediate 5k training plan: Run a faster 5k

  • Post last modified:November 7, 2021
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If you’re looking to get a personal best on your next 5k then this intermediate 5k training plan has got you covered! It’s common for a lot of runners to want to run a faster 5k when they feel they have mastered the basics of running a 5k. 

I personally love running a 5k and it’s my second favourite running distance (10k being my favourite). In fact, I have seen a few articles out there that publicise the benefits of running a 5k. Running shorter distances like a 5k regularly, as opposed to running longer distances like half marathons and marathons, can actually be better for you in the long term. 

When it comes to running a 5k, you may already have a finish time in mind. If it’s under 25 or 30 minutes then be sure to check out my posts on how to run a 5k in 25 minutes or less and how to run a 5k in 30 minutes or less for tips on how to get your next PB.

My intermediate 5k training plan will provide you with a framework to smash your next 5k race.

Not convinced? This intermediate 5k training plan is for you if:

  • You’ve run a 5k multiple times.
  • You’ve been training for a 5k for a while but you’re not seeing any improvements in your times.
  • You’re ready to take your training up a notch in your pursuit of a faster 5k.
  • You’d like to include a range of workouts in your training plan, such as speedwork and strength training.

Before I share my intermediate 5k training plan, I will explain the key components of the plan. You will also find a handy download at the end of this post which shows all the runs and activities week by week.

intermediate 5k training plan

Intermediate 5k training plan: The basics

  • Endurance and speed. This plan will help you to improve your endurance and speed – two things that are crucial to focus on when training for a faster 5k. This means the plan will get you running further and faster. I suggest you should be at a level where you can run for 30 minutes or more without stopping before starting this plan. 
  • Rest days. I’m a big believer in rest days, so the plan won’t get you running every day of the week. At most, you’ll be running 4 days a week.
  • Speedwork. Before you begin the plan, it also helps to have a basic understanding of speedwork. Speedwork is a way to increase running speed and can take the form of many types of training including strides, interval training, Fartlek training and tempo running. In this plan I focus mainly on interval training and tempo running, but you could switch these activities out for other speedwork of your choice.
  • Stretching. Important to any training plan is stretching. Stretching is crucial in the recovery process and helps to alleviate soreness and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Make sure you find time to stretch, particularly after fast runs. You may also want to include foam rolling into your recovery routine. 
  • Strength training. This plan also includes time for strength training. It’s up to you if you include strength training in your plan at this stage, but I highly recommend it in order to run faster and stronger for longer. I have scheduled strength training sessions to take place after your easy run, but you can schedule these sessions on days that are better for you in terms of timing. 
intermediate 5k training plan

Intermediate 5k training plan: Types of runs

  • Easy run. The plan will include easy runs which are runs where you run at a comfortable pace. The general rule of thumb that I like to apply here is that you should be able to hold a conversation while you run without getting out of breath. 
  • Tempo run. Tempo running, also known as threshold running, is a type of speedwork that is designed to get you running outside of your comfort zone. You will be running at a faster pace during these runs and therefore your body will get used to running at a faster pace. Tempo runs are great for developing your anaerobic threshold. 
  • Interval training. Interval training is another type of speedwork that I have included in the plan. As with tempo running, in order to improve your speed you need to be running at a faster pace during training. The plan includes 400m intervals separated by a recovery walk or jog. Just remember to warm up thoroughly before attempting intervals – don’t go straight into doing them as you are at a higher risk of injury. 
  • Long run. The plan will also include one long run a week that is between 5-7 miles. Long runs are still important when it comes to training for a 5k as they help to build your endurance and stamina. Make sure you run at a comfortable pace during your long run, they shouldn’t feel too challenging. 
  • Race test. At points in the plan you will be doing what is called a race test. This is designed to test your fitness, normally half way through the plan, so you can understand how you’re doing and what you might need to calibrate to improve certain areas. 
intermediate 5k training plan

Intermediate 5k training plan: Week by week

Here is my intermediate 5k training plan split week by week.

Week 1

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 3 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – 4 x 400m intervals 
  • Thursday – 3 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – 3 mile easy run
  • Sunday – 5 mile long run

Week 2

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 3 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – 30 min tempo run
  • Thursday – 3 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – 3 mile easy run
  • Sunday – 5 mile long run

Week 3

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 3 mile easy run + optional strength training
  • Wednesday – 5 x 400m intervals
  • Thursday – 3 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – 4 mile easy run
  • Sunday – 6 mile long run

Week 4

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 3 mile easy run + optional strength training
  • Wednesday – 35 min tempo run
  • Thursday – 3 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – Rest day
  • Sunday – 5k race test 
intermediate 5k training plan

Week 5

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 3 mile easy run + optional strength training
  • Wednesday – 6 x 400m intervals
  • Thursday – 3 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – 4 mile easy run
  • Sunday – 6 mile long run

Week 6

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 3 mile easy run + optional strength training
  • Wednesday – 40 min tempo run
  • Thursday – 3 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – 5 mile easy run
  • Sunday – 7 mile long run

Week 7

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 3 mile easy run + optional strength training
  • Wednesday – 7 x 400m intervals
  • Thursday – 3 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – 5 mile easy run
  • Sunday – 7 mile long run

Week 8

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 3 mile easy run + optional strength training
  • Wednesday – 30 min tempo run
  • Thursday – 2 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – Rest day
  • Sunday – 5k race
intermediate 5k training plan

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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 4 Comments

  1. Erick

    Hello! Thank you for creating the running plan! What does
    “Wednesday – 4 x 400m intervals “ mean? For example, pace, rests etc.

    1. Hi Eric. Interval training is another type of speedwork. The idea is you run at a faster pace during each interval. In terms of pace, you should not be able to hold a conversation whilst running during the interval. It should feel challenging and your breathing should feel laboured, but it’s not a full out sprint. Each interval should be separated by a recovery walk or jog. Just remember to warm up thoroughly before attempting intervals – don’t go straight into doing them as you are at a higher risk of injury. Hope this helps 🙂

  2. haneet khanna

    hi caroline.
    thanks for this.i ran a recent 5k in 30’40”. based on this i have a few questions.
    1.should i follow this plan to aim for a 25 min 5k?
    2.what should be my pace for long runs?
    3. whats the difference between and easy run and long runs apart from distance? do i follow the same pace as my easy run?
    3. when you say 30 mins of tempo run does it include the warm up time or is it just the continuous tempo run at as in my case at a pace of 5’30” per km?
    4. lastly should i calculate the paces based on goal time or current time of 5k?

    thank you!

  3. Nathan

    First off, excellent post and so much great stuff in there – rest is incredibly important, and it is how your body recovers that dictates everything. I think more and more things keep appearing that back that up, or at least that is what I have been reading.
    I think I tend to be happy with about one rest day and 50-55 miles in the winter and 60 or so in the summer.
    And whether or not that is optimal for me being a ‘better runner’, really doesn’t matter. It works great with my time and love of getting out there, and I feel great. I’m sure a coach would knock me upside the head and totally change things up on me, but I really don’t care. There are so many bloggers out there and it’s hard to keep track of everyone! Thanks for this list and for including me! Check My recent post

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