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360 YOU: 5K Training Notes for Week 4

One month out from the International Women's Day 5K, here's where we are in our training.

Photo: Erin Douglas

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Another great training week is in the books. Fantastic work. Are you feeling stronger, faster, and more capable? Investing in yourself with this 5k training program is not only making you a better runner and athlete but a stronger and more confident woman. Accomplishing your goals and striving for things you only ever dreamed of is the fast track to feeling good about yourself.

Both training programs continue to ramp up in difficulty this week, with some exciting developments for both groups. Let’s take a look at what’s on the horizon.

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Check-in: Beginner 5K Plan

Although the cross-training and rest days stay consistent on your training schedule this week, your three run/walk workouts will look quite different. The total time on your feet for each of these three workouts is actually less than you’ve been doing for most of your workouts over the first three weeks, but that’s because you’ll be running a much higher percentage of the entire workout. That’s right: those walking breaks are becoming fewer and farther in between.

You’ll also notice a change in the format of the walk/run workouts. Instead of doing repeats of the same length, you’ll take on what’s called a ladder workout for Monday and Wednesday. This means that the duration of each interval progressively drops. You’ll push through the longest running bouts first, and then each subsequent running interval will be shorter. 

The rest intervals on Wednesday are a mere 30 seconds because at this point in your training program, you’ve built up a great endurance base. Your heart rate and respiratory rates are able to drop back down quicker, even if you get pretty breathless by the end of the running interval. That said, remember, these shouldn’t feel like all-out sprints while you are running. If you’re huffing and puffing and really struggling to get through the interval, ease up on your pace. It should be “comfortably hard.” In other words, you shouldn’t be able to sing a full song, but you can speak several words with no problem.

The Saturday workout is exciting. You’ll run 3 x 8 minutes. That’s impressive. Would you have believed you’d be at this point now when you started just a little over three weeks ago? You’re doing a fabulous job! 

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Check-in: Intermediate 5K Plan

This week looks a little different than the first three weeks of the training program, as if backs off the intensity a little bit by swapping the tempo workout for a distance run. The long run also switches to miles instead of minutes, and may be a bit longer than you’ve been running depending on your pace.

It takes the body some time to adapt, and we don’t want to increase both speed and mileage every week, as it can increase the risk of injury. Therefore, this week backs off the speed a little to give your body a chance to recover and reap the benefits of training thus far.

Your Saturday track workout is a tough one. You’ll tackle four sets of a hard 800m at 5k pace followed by a faster 300m at mile pace. You’ll only have 100 meters to recover between the 800m and 300m, but will take a full lap (400 meters) after the 300m before hitting the next 800m. It’s completely normal to be feeling this workout in your legs by the third or fourth set, but you can do it! Remember, it’s these very workouts that help prepare you for a strong race day performance.

If you need the rest day on Tuesday, be sure to take it. However, since Wednesday is a distance run instead of a workout, you may be up for a recovery run if you’ve previously been taking this day off. 

For your long run on Sunday, be sure to hydrate before, during, and after your run, and properly fuel your body with easy-to-digest foods like a banana with some nut butter or oatmeal.


Have you been doing your warm up and cool down exercises? Becoming a better runner is all about consistency, and that largely comes down to staying injury free. Take care of your body so that you can enjoy each and every mile you run.

Have a fantastic week of training!

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This article is part of our three-month 360 YOU program, available free to Women’s Running members. Find out what the program is all about here or head to the collection page to dive into the available training and inspirational content. 

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