A blog by runners. For runners.

Workouts for a faster 5K

Run a faster 5K with these workouts and tips.One thing I love about running is that you can switch up your goals as often as the seasons change. If you’re spent from half marathon or marathon training, you may want to avoid double digit runs for awhile.

Luckily, that doesn’t mean you need to abandon your training goals. Consider spending the next couple of months focusing on training for a shorter distance event – like a 5K. Of course, you’re already in shape to complete a 5K, but why not make the upcoming 5k your best yet?

For veteran runners to earn a 5K PR, the focus during training needs to be on speedwork. The following workouts are tough, but they work. Give a couple of them a try most weeks of training and you’ll be well on your way to a faster 5K:

  • Tempo runs: Tempo runs are a must for any sound 5k training plan. They teach your body how to hold a fast pace over a longer distance. Run 1-2 miles at an easy pace, then ramp up the effort to a pace that’s between your 5k and 10k race pace. Hold the tempo pace for 1-3 miles, and then cool down with one easy mile.
  • 30- or 60-second pick-ups: Do this workout on the road. Start with one easy mile as your warm up, run hard for 30 seconds — at a pace that’s 20 seconds faster per mile than your 5k pace – and then run easy for 30 seconds. Do 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off for a total of 8 intervals. Cool down with one easy mile. Once you get in better shape, extend the intervals to 60 seconds on, 60 seconds off.
  • 400m repeats: At the track, warm up with one slow mile. Then do some stretching or strides to get your body fully ready for this fast-paced workout. Run 400m at mile race pace, immediately followed by another 400m at recovery pace. Work your way up to 8x 400m during your peak week of training.
  • 800m repeats: Head to the track and warm up with an easy mile. Then run 800m at 10 seconds faster than 5k race pace.  Run slowly for 2 minutes to recover. Work your way up to doing 6x 800m in the couple of weeks before your race.
  • Mile repeats: Start with an easy mile at the track and then turn your pace way up. Run one mile near your goal 5k race pace and then run slowly for one minute. Repeat the set two more times so that you run a total of 3x 1 mile. Cool down with one mile at an easy pace.
  • Hill sprints: Even if the elevation profile of your 5k race is flat, hill sprints can help you become stronger and faster. After a mile warmup, find a fairly steep hill and run up it as fast as you can for 10 seconds, then walk for 1-2 minutes to recover. Cool down with one easy mile. Work up to 10 sets.

Written by Jen Matz.