Intermediate 5k Plan

Workout 1 Workout 2 Workout 3
6x 400m at 5k goal pace 200m jogging rest 4× 15 second strides 4× 6 second hill sprints
8-12x 400m at 5k goal pace 200m jogging rest 4× 15 second strides 4× 6 second hill sprints
4-6x 800m at 5k goal pace 400m jogging rest 4× 20 second strides 6× 6 second hill sprints
4-6x 1000m at 5k goal pace 400m jogging rest 4× 20 second strides 6× 8 second hill sprints
10-12x 400m at 5k goal pace 200m jogging rest 4× 20 second strides 6× 8 second hill sprints
1600m 1200m 800m at goal 5k pace 400m 200m at controlled sprint 2 minute rest between intervals 4× 20 second strides 6× 8 second hill sprints
2-3x 1600m at 5k goal pace 400m jogging rest 4x 200m controlled sprint 200m jogging rest 4× 20 second strides 8× 8 second hill sprints
4-5x 1000m at 5k goal pace 400m jogging rest 2×400 at controlled sprint 400m jogging rest 4× 20 second strides  
6x 800m at goal 5k pace 200m jogging rest 4× 20 second strides  
4x 400m at goal 5k pace 100m jogging rest 4× 20 second strides RACE


Hill Sprints:

After or in the middle of an easy run, find a steep hill, can be road/grass/trail. Bound up the hill as fast as you can. Focus on good upright posture, driving your knees, pumping your arms, fully extending your leg on push-off. Walk back down hill and start the next one when fully rested.

Distance vs Time:

If you are not running on a track or do not have a GPS watch do your intervals based on time instead of distance. Use the following times instead of distances. 400m-1:45 min seconds. 800m-3:30 min. 1000m-4:20. 1600m-7:00 min. These may not correspond exactly to your 5k goal pace, but the amount of time spent at a certain pace is more important than the actual distance run. It is up to you to be honest about the effort you are running to get the most out of each workout.


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. Make sure you tweak your weekly schedule enough to allow a 3-4 days of easier running after your race. I would recommend doing the planned workout the week of the race, just give yourself a few days to recovery from the workouts. For example do a Tuesday workout and a Saturday race not a Thursday workout Saturday race.


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 you 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.

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.