Intermediate 5k training plan: Run a faster 5k

Intermediate 5k training plan: Run a faster 5k

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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 and that a shorter distance 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 minutes then be sure to check out my post on how to run a 5k in 25 minutes or less for tips on how to get a sub-25 minute PB. 

In this post I’d like to share a sample 8 week intermediate 5k training plan that is aimed at anyone who already has a few 5k runs under their belt and wants to run a faster 5k.

Perhaps you have been training for a while and you’re not seeing any improvements. Perhaps you’re ready to take your training up a notch in your pursuit of a faster 5k.

Whatever your reasons – this training plan can hopefully provide you with a framework in which to smash your next 5k race. 

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

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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 2 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 🙂

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