Your improver's 5K training plan
So! You have got through the Run and Become beginner schedule or progressed through the Couch to 5K programme. All is going well and you may now have a couple of 5K runs under your belt, or even a competed in a Park Run. Where do you go from here?
Many runners are happy with getting this far and content just to enjoy where they are, keeping their routine going, having found a new level of fitness, achievement and even some new friends. For others they will start asking themselves the question, “How can I continue to improve or go from beginner to intermediate level – i.e. get faster?”
IMPROVER'S 5K TRAINING SCHEDULE
(Can be adapted for 2 Miles)
|Week 1||Rest||1.5mile / 15min Run||Cross Train / Alternate Exercise||1.5mile Run at Race Pace||Rest||2mile / 20min Run||30min Easy Walk Run|
|Week 2||Rest||2mile / 20min Run||Cross Train / Alternate Exercise||1mile Run at Race Pace||Rest||2mile / 20min Run||30min Easy Walk Run|
|Week 3||Rest||2mile / 20min Run||Cross Train / Alternate Exercise||1.5mile Run at Race Pace||Rest||2.5mile / 25min Run||30min Easy Walk Run|
|Week 4||Rest||2.5mile / 25min Run||Cross Train / Alternate Exercise||1.5mile Run at Race Pace||Rest||2.5mile / 25min Run||35-40min Easy Walk Run|
|Week 5||Rest||2.5mile / 25min Run||Cross Train / Alternate Exercise||1.5mile Run at Race Pace||Rest||3mile / 30min Run||35-40min Easy Walk Run|
|Week 6||Rest||2.5mile / 25min Run||Cross Train / Alternate Exercise||1.5mile Run at Race Pace||Rest||3mile / 30min Run||35-40min Easy Walk Run|
|Week 7||Rest||3mile / 30min Run||Cross Train / Alternate Exercise||1.5mile Run at Race Pace||Rest||3.5mile / 35min Run||40min Easy Walk Run|
|Week 8||Rest||3.5mile / 35min Run||Cross Train / Alternate Exercise||2mile Run at Race Pace||Rest||4mile / 40minRun||40min Easy Walk Run|
|Week 9||Rest||3mile / 30min Run||Cross Train / Alternate Exercise||1.5mile Run at Race Pace||Rest||3.5mile / 35min Run||30min Easy Walk Run|
|Week 10||Rest||2.5mile / 25min Run||Cross Train / Alternate Exercise||2mile Easy Run||Rest||Rest||5k Race|
GUIDE TO IMPROVING YOUR 5K RACE TIME
- Not all runs should be hard. In the improver's schedule, only one faster run is recommended each week to begin with.
- The faster or harder day should be followed by a rest day or easy day, to allow for recovery and for the body to assimilate or adapt to the extra workload.
- You may think the rest days are wasted days, but most coaches would say the opposite. They are indeed an integral part of any schedule.
- Although the faster runs need a little more focus to start with, there is no need to stress out over them.
- The first couple of runs that require a little more effort could feel a little hard, but that’s okay and normal. You won't improve your time without going out of your comfort zone, even in a small way.
- With time, most people feel the progress and then look forward to the slightly harder session.
- Those are the sessions – you can have a little treat afterwards as a reward.
- For steady and ongoing improvement, there is always more to running than running. Include some other exercise like stretching for mobility and strengthening to aid core strength. Yoga or Pilates are excellent to help with this. This also helps build the body’s foundation. For some quick stretching or strength training workouts, see:
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How quickly can I improve my 5K time?
A few factors are involved, like age and ability. Some runners can improve very quickly, and it is natural to want to improve. However, it is always best to do this gradually. By its very nature, improvement involves some hard work, but doing too much too soon, without allowing adequate rest and recovery each week, can result in setbacks as the body struggles to adapt.
Rather than looking for instant weekly gains, it is far better to follow the schedule and every 3 or 4 weeks measure your improvement. This can be running a local Park Run to compare your times, or run over one of your regular routes you know and are familiar with, so you can also monitor for future efforts too.
You definitely don’t want to be going out on every run thinking, “I can run faster every day.” It just doesn’t work like that! Top runners following their own schedule don’t think like that, and neither should you.
What is a respectable 5K time?
In some ways it is all relative to where you are starting from:
- 36 minutes shows you have done the work to go beyond walking pace.
- 30 minutes and we are definitely in the, “I am getting the hang of this running lark”.
- 25 minutes, would look good in any Park Run results.
- 20 minutes, and we are in the realm of decent club runner standard and you could be thinking about joining a local club if you haven’t already.
- If you are a real achiever, the current world records are 12.37 for men and 14.11 for women.
Although it is natural to want to improve, take your time. Running is a lifestyle and lifetime activity. “Faster running” is only a small part of an overall schedule and the majority of your running should still be slower steady running, which builds an endurance base, to allow you to run faster for longer as time goes by.
This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. The tips are ones we've found very useful and want to share with our customers. But we're not certified instructors. Always consult your specialist before beginning any exercise programme. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises or advice, stop and consult your healthcare provider.