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Boundaries were meant to be broken! Here’s your personalized plan for shattering 30, 25 or 20 minutes in your next 5k.
Craving a 5k personal record? You got it, lady! The following three plans take the guesswork out of training. Whether you want to break 20, 25 or 30 minutes, these programs tell you exactly how often, how fast and how far you need to run each day to meet your goal. By following the guidelines below, we promise that
your next 5k will be your very best.
All three plans assume you have already run a minimum of one 5k. If you haven’t—don’t worry! 5ks are easy to find. In many areas of the country, there are local races nearly every weekend of the year. Try one out to test your speed, and then come back to these programs when you’re ready. Each plan is comprised of three key workouts. You will run these workouts every week, preferably on nonconsecutive days (e.g. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). These are the runs that will build your speed and endurance. In addition to the three quality runs, the plans include one to two additional easy runs per week to help build your mileage base. Fill any remaining days with rest or cross-training activities. One day every week will always be committed to total rest and recovery.
Key Paces: RP=Race Pace, 9:20/mile XT=Cross Train (bike, elliptical, swim, etc.) E=Easy, 11:35/mile F=Fartlek (run the total distance indicated, incorporating the speedy sections into the middle of the workout) H=Hard, 8:45/mile HI= Hill, 9:00/mile (run the total distance indicated, incorporating hill sprints at this speed into the middle of the workout) LR=Long Run, 11:35-13:45/mile R=Recovery, 15:00/mile SF= Strong Finish, 11:00/mile T=Tempo, 9:45/mile
*For all starred workouts, start with 10-15 min warm up, and finish with 5-10 minute cool down.
Long Run (LR)
Long runs develop the aerobic capacity and endurance necessary for covering the race distance. Your pace should stay fairly comfortable, although fatigue will build up toward the end.
Strong Finish (SF)
Some long runs will end with five to 15 minutes of running at a slightly quicker pace to teach your body to pick
it up when you’re fatigued. The pace translates to roughly 20 to 30 seconds per mile faster than your normal long run pace.
In fartlek workouts, you’ll mix up your speed, running some segments fast and some slow. The “hard” segments should be run at goal 5k pace or a bit quicker. Make sure to run at a pace that you can maintain throughout the entire effort. Start with a warm up of 10 to 15 minutes of easy jogging. Jog or walk the recovery time between hard effort, and then finish with a five to 10 minute easy cool down.
Hill Repeats (HI)
Hill sessions strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calf muscles, which will equate to faster running on all terrain. After warming up for 10 to 15 minutes, run up a hill with a moderate grade for the amount about the same as 5k race effort, although the pace will likely be slower. If you live in a flat area, find a bridge or use a treadmill. Walk or jog back down the hill for recovery and repeat the effort when you reach the bottom.
Race Pace (RP)
Race pace workouts require you to run at your goal 5k pace. This workout teaches your body what the pace feels like, and increases your ability to hold RP for an extended period of time. Start and finish each workout with 10 to 15 minutes of light jogging.
Tempo runs build stamina. Tempos are performed at a comfortably hard pace. Breathing will be slightly labored, but you should be relaxed and able to maintain an even pace. Begin T sessions with 10 to 15 minutes of easy running as a warm up. Start the T portion of the run as indicated, and ease into your pace. End the workout with a five to 10 minute easy cool down.
Sprinkled throughout each plan are easy runs. Easy runs are just that, easy. These runs are used for recovery, as well as just getting time on your legs.
Christine Hinton is a Road Runners Club of America certified coach and fitness expert. A competitive runner herself, she has been coaching beginners through elites for over 10 years.