Intermediate 5k Plan

Workout 1 Workout 2 Workout 3
8-10x 1 minute @ 5K goal pace + 2 minutes easy 6x 30 second hills 60-75 minute long run
5-6x 2 minutes @ 5K goal pace + 2 minutes easy 5x 4 minutes @ Tempo pace + 1 minute easy 60-75 minute long run
5-6x 3 minutes @ 5K goal pace + 2 minutes easy 8x 30 second hills 75-90 minute long run
4x 4 minutes @ 5K goal pace + 2 minutes easy 5x 6 minutes @ Tempo pace + 90 seconds easy 75-90 minute long run
5x 4 minutes @ 5K goal pace + 2 minutes easy 6x 60 second hills 60-75 minute long run
4x 5 minutes @ 5K goal pace + 2 minutes easy 4x 8 minutes @ Tempo pace + 2 minutes easy 75-90 minute long run
5x 5 minutes @ 5K goal pace + 2 minutes easy 12x 30 seconds @ Mile race pace + 1 minute easy 1:30 to 1:45 long run
1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 minutes @ 5K goal pace + equal recovery 2x 10 minutes @ Tempo pace + 2 minutes easy 75-90 minute long run
1-2-3-4-3-2-1 minutes @ 5K goal pace + equal recovery 8x 60 seconds @ Mile race pace + 2 minutes easy 60-75 minute long run
3x 4 minutes @ Tempo pace + 1 minute easy then 3x 2 minutes @ 5K goal pace + 2 minutes easy 8x 20 second strides RACE

Races:

It is a good idea to work some races into this training plan. Every few weeks find a 5k to 5 mile race to run. The race will replace that week’s 5K pace workout. Make sure to adjust the week to give yourself two to three days of easy running before and after the race, if possible. Alternatively, you can run a race on Saturday and do a slightly shorter, slower long run on Sunday if you feel capable of handling that. 

Strides:

Strides are a great way to work on your form and your top end speed. They teach you to run fast but relaxed. At least twice a week you should do 4-6 strides after an easy run or work them into the last mile or so of your easy run. Start slow and build speed for 5-8 seconds until you are near your top sprint speed, hold that speed for a few second then gradually slow down to a jog, jog for 30-60 seconds before starting your next stride. A stride should take about 15-20 seconds or about 100 meters. Be sure to run quickly while staying relaxed; you want to feel smooth, not tensing up like you are running the 100-meter final at the Olympics!

Warm up/Cool down: 

You should establish a warm up and cool down routine and try to do it the same way every workout and every race. This will help prepare both your body and your mind for the hard effort. A proper warm up doesn’t just prepare your muscles but it also primes your cardiovascular system. While everyone has a slightly different routine I would suggest doing roughly the following.

40 minutes out: 15-20 minutes of easy running, start at a shuffle but end the last few minutes and your normal easy run pace or even slightly faster.

20 minutes out: Change into whatever you plan on racing in, bathroom break, final sips of water or sugar drink.

10 minutes out: Head to the starting line (or where ever you are going to start your workout). 4×20 seconds strides at 5k race pace with 1 minute between strides. Do any dynamic stretching (high knees, butt kicks etc) you prefer.

You should finish your warm up routine as soon as possible before the start of your race. Standing around for more than 3-4 minutes will negate much of the work you just did to get ready. For longer races you can do a shorter opening jog, but I still recommend doing at least 10 minutes even for a half marathon. I strongly encourage you not to do any static stretching before a race or workout as it robs your muscles of power and likely does nothing to prevent injury. Save the static stretching for after.

Cool down: 10 minutes of easy jogging followed by a good mix of carbs and protein.

Goal Race:

Try to keep things as familiar as you can on race day. Eat the same foods you would normally eat the night before and the morning of the race. You should have your warm up routine down pat by this point. If you plan on using the race provided sugar drink, find out what brand and flavor they are using and test it out in a couple training runs so you don’t have any surprises on race day. For races less than 1 hour I would suggest just water.

Final Thought:

Inevitably you will find yourself 4 reps into a hard workout at 5k pace thinking “how the hell am I supposed to hold this pace for 3.1 miles with no rest?”

This is totally normal and to be expected. If you are being honest about your goal pace based on recent shorter races it is normal to feel those long intervals and tempo runs are tough to get through. You aren’t ready to run your goal pace at week 7, otherwise it would be a 7 week plan not a 12 week plan. It is a process and when you get to the end of the plan you will be ready to run your goal time.