5 km intermediate running guide

This training guide will get you improving your 5 km time, in 8 weeks.

For those who have finished a few 5 km races and are running fairly regularly, your next goal might be to take your running up a level in intensity. The 5 km ‘Next level’ training guide, one step up from the 5 km ‘I can do this’ training guide, is designed to help you do just this.

To improve your running, you need to progress your endurance and your speed. The best way to do this is by increasing the length of your runs and the pace.

This training guide incorporates these principles so that you can start to see improvements in your 5 km running times.

Download your 5 km 8-week training guide as a pdf

Training days explained

Run: This refers to running at a pace that you are comfortable with. The key is that you cover the distance. 

Run fast: There are three runs in this guide defined as ‘run fast’ – there is no specific definition for this other than it needs to be faster than the comfortable pace you regularly run at. Get into the habit of timing your regular runs and your fast runs to ensure you are stepping up the speed a little.

Long runs: Each weekend the guide outlines a long run. Run 8km to 10km at a comfortable pace – don’t think about speed or distance – just enjoy getting the kms in your legs.. If you are feeling fatigued, take a drink break or slow down to a walk.

Interval training: To improve speed you need to up your pace. Interval training involves running at an increased pace followed by running recovery at a slower pace. Run 400m hard and recover by jogging and/or walking 400m. Before interval training it is important to warm-up by jogging a km or two, stretching, and doing a few sprints of 100m. Cool down afterwards with a short jog.

Tempo runs: This training technique involves continuous runs with an easy beginning, a build up in the middle, then ease back and cruise to the finish. A typical tempo run begins with 5-10 minutes easy running, continues with 10-15 faster running, and finishes with 5-10 minutes cooling down.

Rest: You can’t train well unless you are adequately rested. The training guide includes two rest days and the easy 4.5km runs scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays are also to help you rest for harder workouts. The final week before the 5km race is a rest week. Taper your training so you can hit your peak on race day.

Test: Week four includes a 5km test, which is a timed 5km run to track your improvement. If you don’t feel ready for this, head out for a solid 5km run.

Stretch + strengthen: Stretching is key to a strong, supple body and should be done daily. Strength training, particularly for your core muscles, is an important focus of this training guide. Bodyweight-based activities like push-ups, chin-ups or dips are beneficial or light weights with high reps at your local gym. Tuesdays and Thursdays would be good days to combine strength training with your easy run (optional).

Note – The training guide is just that, a guide – it is important to make it work for you. If you want to do long runs on Saturday rather than Sunday, simply change the days. Or if you miss a run you can make it up on one of your rest days.

Download the full guide here.

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