Coach Jeff

Written by Coach Jeff

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6 Workouts Guaranteed to Help You Crush Your 5k & 10k PRs

Whether you are a beginner looking for your first 5k training plan, or you are an advanced runner with a true love of running, not just a way to lose weight, you are going to need to follow some kind of training schedule to get you ready to race.

Despite being “short” from a distance runner’s standpoint, the 5k and 10k are difficult race distances to master.

Now:

The 5k requires you to run at close to maximum effort for 3.1 miles, which usually results in hitting the wall only 1.5 miles in. While the race is over in just 20 to 30 minutes, toe the line unprepared and you’ll be suffering the second half of the race.

The 10k on the other hand is a blend of speed and endurance that requires running only a few seconds slower than 5k pace, yet for double the distance.

Be off your pacing or fitness by only a fraction and the last two miles will be torture.

Trust me, I know.

As such, it’s important that you have a 5k or 10k training program designed to prepare your body for the exact physiological challenges of the race distance, teach your body and mind how to push through the tough parts of a race, and perfect a pacing strategy that allows you to run on the edge of your limits.

The smarter you train, the better your odds of achieving your goal. This article will provide you with concrete guidance, along with speed workouts for 5k and 10k that will have you crushing your PRs in no time.

Want to make the most of your 5k or 10k training? Here is a 6-week 5k training plan with workouts to improve your speed.

How Can I Improve My Speed in the 5k or 10k?

First, we need to share a secret with you:

Most runners equate 5k and 10k training with speed work, but racing these distances has more to do with your aerobic strength and speed endurance than it does with absolute or pure speed.

What do we mean by this?

What is speed endurance?

Speed endurance is your ability to hold a specific pace for an increasingly longer period of time.

This is the key to running a fast 5k or 10k.
Let’s use an example to demonstrate how this works in the 5k.

Answer this question:

What is the average pace per mile you need to run to break your 5k goal/pr?

Got that answer? Now:

If you were to run a mile as fast as you could, how much faster would you be able to run than your average 5k pace?

I am willing to bet that one mile time is significantly faster than you 5k goal/pr pace.

Need a more specific example?

Let’s assume you want to run 20 minutes for the 5k (or use your own 5k goal – this still applies regardless of your 5k goals/pace).

You would need to average 6:25 pace per mile.

Technically, that means the fastest pace you need to be able to run is 6:20 per mile.

If you’re currently a 21-minute 5k runner, I have little doubt you can run one 6:20 mile, actually, you’re probably capable of running a mile close to sub 6 minutes!

What does that mean?

The problem isn’t that you don’t have enough speed to run a 20-minute 5k, it’s that you lack the endurance to run three 6:25 miles without stopping.

This is what we call speed endurance – your ability to maintain and hold a fast pace for the entire race – and it should be the major focus of your 5k and 10k training.

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Download your FREE Improvement Performance Calculator now in your members-only download section.

Click here to access this handy pace calculator to determine what you can run in every race distance and what pace you should train and race at to reach your goals.

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What is the aerobic component?

While getting faster and improving VO2max is important to improving speed endurance, perhaps the most important piece is your aerobic capabilities.

Consider the energy demands and the aerobic contribution to a 5k race:

5k and 10k specific training

It’s pretty clear that while us distance runners see the 5k and 10k as “speed work”, these distances are still aerobically dominated events.

As such, we can’t ignore the aerobic system in training.

What are the Best Workouts for a 5k or 10k?

While all types of running will generally help you improve as a runner, race-specific training will produce better results at a particular distance.

For example, long runs (yes, even as a 5k or 10k runner) will help you improve your overall running fitness, but they aren’t very specific to the demands of the 5k or 10k race itself.

The closer you can run workouts that mimic the exact physical demands of a specific race, the fitter you’ll get at racing that exact distance.

So, how do we target speed endurance in training to better prepare for the 5k and 10k?

Improving speed endurance

One mistake runners make when training for the 5k or 10k is running lots of fast VO2 max workouts, which improves the speed component, but doesn’t specifically target your ability to hold a fast pace for an extended period of time.

Consider a workout like 6 x 800 meters at 3k pace with 2 minutes rest.

This is a great VO2max and speed workout.

However, it’s not going to help you with your speed in a 5k as the 3 minutes rest allows you to effectively recover fully between each repeat.

A better workout to prepare specifically for the 5k would be something like 6 x 800 meters at goal 5k pace with a short jogging rest at 85 percent of marathon pace (if you have never run a marathon, our performance calculator will figure out all your paces for you).

An example for a 20 minute 5k runner would look like:

6 x 800 meters at 3:10-3:15 w/200 meters jogging (8:35 pace) rest between.

Here’s the deal:

In this instance, you’re teaching yourself how to run 5k pace with as little rest as possible.

By not fully recovering and jogging quickly between repeats you still improve your ability to run at race pace, but you ensure you have the aerobic strength and support to maintain goal pace on race day.

Sample workouts

The following is a 6-week race-specific guide for both the 5k and 10k.

For those runners training for their first 5k race:

 

5k specific workouts for beginners

Week 1:

2 mile warm-up, 5 x 400 meters at 5k goal race pace with 100m jogging rest, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 2:

2 mile warm-up, 4 x 600 meters at 5k goal race pace with 100m jogging rest, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 3:

2-3 mile warm-up, 3 x 800 meters at 5k goal race pace with 200m jogging rest, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 4:

2-3 mile warm-up, 6 x 400 meters at 5k goal race pace with 100m jogging rest, hammer interval 6 as fast as you can, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 5:

2-3 mile warm-up, 4 x 800 meters at 5k goal race pace with 200m jogging rest, hammer interval 4 as fast as you can, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 6: Race week

2-3 mile warm-up, 1 x 1 mile at 3k-5k pace w/5 min rest, 2 x 400 meters at mile pace w/3 minutes rest, 2 mile cool down.

10k specific workouts

Week 1:

2 mile warm-up, 8 x 400 meters at 10k goal race pace with 30 seconds rest, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 2:

2 mile warm-up, 5 x 800 meters at goal 10k pace with 45 second rest, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 3:

2-3 mile warm-up, 2 miles at 10k goal race pace with 60 seconds rest, 2 x 1000 meters at 5k goal pace with 60 second rest, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 4:

2-3 mile warm-up, 4 x 1000 meters at goal 10k pace with 30 second rest, hammer interval 4 as fast as you can, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 5:

2-3 mile warm-up, 2 x 2 miles at 10k goal race pace with 90 seconds rest, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 6:

2-3 mile warm-up, 2 x 1 mile at goal 10k race pace, hammer #2 as fast as you can, with 45 seconds rest, 1 x 400 meters as fast as you can, 1-2 mile cool down

5k specific workouts for advanced runners

Week 1:

2-3 mile warm-up, 11 x 400 meters at 5k goal race pace with 100m jogging rest, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 2:

2-3 mile warm-up, 8 x 600 meters at 5k goal race pace with 100m jogging rest, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 3:

2-3 mile warm-up, 6 x 800 meters at 5k goal race pace with 200m jogging rest, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 4:

2-3 mile warm-up, 12 x 400 meters at 5k goal race pace with 100m jogging rest, hammer #10 as fast as you can, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 5:

2-3 mile warm-up, 8 x 800 meters at 5k goal race pace with 200m jogging rest, hammer #6 as fast as you can, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 6: Race week

2-3 mile warm-up, 2 x 1 mile at 3k-5k pace w/5 min rest, 2 x 400 meters at mile pace w/3 minutes rest, 2 mile cool down.

10k specific workouts

Week 1:

2-3 mile warm-up, 16 x 400 meters at 10k goal race pace with 30 seconds rest, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 2:

2-3 mile warm-up, 10 x 800 meters at goal 10k pace with 45 second rest, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 3:

2-3 mile warm-up, 3 miles at 10k goal race pace with 60 seconds rest, 5 x 1000 meters at 5k goal pace with 60 second rest, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 4:

2-3 mile warm-up, 8 x 1000 meters at goal 10k pace with 30 second rest, hammer interval #7 as fast as you can, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 5:

2-3 mile warm-up, 3 x 2 miles at 10k goal race pace with 90 seconds rest, 1-2 mile cool down

Week 6:

2-3 mile warm-up, 5 x 1 mile at goal 10k race pace, hammer #4 as fast as you can, with 45 seconds rest, 1 x 800 meters as fast as you can, 1-2 mile cool down

For advanced runners:

You should perform one tempo or threshold workout in addition to these 10k specific workouts each week. Your long run should progress to 12-16 miles, depending on your total weekly mileage.

The next time you’re building your training plan, think about the specific demands of the race distance and how you can purposely target them in training.

RunnersConnect Master Extra

Download your FREE Improvement Performance Calculator now in your members-only download section.

Click here to access this handy pace calculator to determine what you can run in every race distance and what pace you should train and race at to reach your goals.

Not a RunnersConnect Master member? Click here to learn more

 

Free Run Faster Course

Learn How to Train Smarter and Run Faster Using the Latest Science and Proven Workouts

Here’s what you'll learn in this course

The scientific demands of your race distance so you know exactly how to target your workouts and training.

6 Race specific workouts that will help up you crush your next race

The most common mistakes you're making in training and in your race plan (and how to fix them)

References

Connect with Jeff Gaudette on Google+

50 Responses on “6 Workouts Guaranteed to Help You Crush Your 5k & 10k PRs

  1. I’m running a marathon (my second) at the end of April and want to try for a 10K PR on July 4th. The original article states that you should have adequate base. I don’t expect to lose much fitness over a couple of weeks of easy running following the marathon. My training is 45-55 miles/week during the peak. Do you think it would be OK to start training mid-May?

  2. Jeff, I’m using your Runkeeper SUb 55 10k. If available I’d be using a Sub 42-43 10k as I already run 10k in 50 in training runs. Anyway, could you advise how to adjust the suggested speeds of the sub 55 plan to a faster target race pace of 42-43min? If you email me I’ll give you my runkeeper info and you can see the details of my runs.

  3. I’m really interested in running on the cross country team for my university. I’ll be a senior in fall and nothing would make me happier than to finish out my last year of college with a team! I ran varsity cross country and track throughout high school and I miss the competition and being part of a team. My last 5k time was a 22:06 and I’ll be running another one on April 20th. I need to be running around a 19:45-20 5k time to join the team, I have a few months to improve….is that possible?

  4. Hello Jeff.
    I don’t know if i’m beguinner or intermediate. i run 21km in 1:50 and 10km in 47min. Should i do the plan listed here or cut in half?

    btw.. this 6 weeks plan should be how many times a week? tuesday and thursday and sunday a long run?

  5. Not sure I understand the training schedules above – are you supposed to do the fast runs from the 5K and 10K schedule plus one tempo run and 1 long run (so 4 runs per week)? I am currently running 20:47 on a flat road 5K not sure how much of a reduction it’s realistic to expect after a 6 week training plan (I am 57 🙂 )

  6. hi jeff would sincerely luv some advice !went back running roughly 1 yr ago and after about 6 weeks of training consisting of 30-40 miles a week nothing specific I was running 15 48 for 5 k and 76 mins for half marathon but throughout a consistent yr of taining ive managed to drop my half marathon time to 73 min on 30-40 miles a week improved my 5k 5 months ago to 1537 but have done afew other 5ks and still only managing 15 48 avg help me !!would love to get to low 15’s!!

    • Elton, it’s hard to say without seeing your training logbook but the first thing that jumps out at me is no increase in weekly volume. You ran 30-40 miles within 6 weeks after a long break from running and a year later still running 30-40 miles a week. Slowly increasing your amount of easier miles develops your aerobic engine. I like to think of it as a house. The more easy to steady miles you put in at conversational pace over the course of 2-3 years consistently equals a larger foundation or first floor with more rooms and larger perimeter. In turn, allows you to build more floors on top of it with more rooms and higher ceilings which represent the taking your long runs longer, tempo runs faster, speed work longer and harder. Hope this helps you.

  7. I want to do some mile repeats, but would like to hit the specilization and less V02 as you suggest, what would be some good mile workouts? I am looking at 4x1mile @ goal race pace with 3 mins jog afterwards (400-500m). Or would that be too much of a VO2 Max workout? What kind of workout would 5x1mile with 800 recovery jogs be?

    Also, how important is pace on the recovery jog? If I’m a 17:40 5k runner, how fast should my 100m and 200m recovery jog pace be in your prescribed workouts above? Thanks! This is all very helpful.

  8. Hey Jeff!

    I have a question in regards to the 5k training plan! The jogging rest.. Is that in between each sprint or at the middle
    Of workout?

    • Hi Taliah, the jogging is in between each repeat. I am not sure which workout you are referring to, but if it says jogging rest, that would be in-between the repeats. Hope that helps!

  9. The web-site is truly very informative. I have a query, but before that I want to share my timings for different distances.

    In the space of last 1 year, my PBs for different distances are:-> 1Km in 4 min, 5 Km in 24:52 sec, 10 KM in 54:08 sec, and 21.1 Km in 2:16:32.

    I do around 30 km of running on a weekly basis. I have been doing the running for last 18 months. However, as of now, I fear I might have hit the peak, where the performance improvement is not coming by. My age as of now is 38 years and i weigh 70 kg.

    My question:-> Is it POSSIBLE to bring the timings for 5 Km to sub 22:00, for 10 Km to Sub 50:00 and half marathon to Sub 2:00, with adequate amount of practice ? If so, at a broader level what would your advise be ?

    • Hi Rajesh, it would be impossible for us to tell exactly what you are capable of. Your best bet is to follow our training suggestions, and see how your body reacts to it. We would love for you to be able to become a runners connect athlete, and if you did this, you would be given a more specific plan to help you reach that goal. You can find out more here https://runnersconnect.net/training-plans/

      Hope this helps! Good luck!

  10. Hello I’m 13 and I’m going to run a 5k training plan this summer to stay in shape for cross country. I was wondering if a 19:50 5k would be intermidiate for the 5k runs? Should I run the full workouts or cut it in half?

  11. Hi Coaches!. I’m trying to do my first marathon in late August this year, to qualify to Boston next year. I have been doing 5k, 10k and half marathons. I need to do 3:05 to qualify. . But l want to train in the best way to avoid injuries. My PR in 5k is 18:47 and 1hr 26 in half. What kind of program do you guys recommend to me to do?. I appreciate your help.
    Hector

    • Hi Hector, congrats on your accomplishments so far! The best way for us to do that is to encourage you to join our training group. Your training plan will be taken care of, and you will have a wonderful community who will support you with your goals and dreams. We have a lot of happy athletes, and would love you to be a part of it. Here is the information, and make sure you make the most of the 2 week free trial! https://runnersconnect.net/training-plans/ Hope to see you there!

  12. After starting to run again in November 2014 following a broken coccyx from streetboarding which currently is about 95% healed Im racing every weekend in 5k/10ks and have gone from 26min in November to currently a 6:47min/mile pace…. I do 5x 1.1 mile repeats at goal pace and have a short 100meter walk in between. I also do 6x 100 meter sprints after. Im 44 years old and Im trying to get to 19-20 min 5ks. What’s been killing me is race day! My practices are at 645pm, all the races are at 7:30am and I havent gotten down a proper warm up before a 5k can you help? I noticed that a 10min slow pace 8:30min/mile 15min before has helped and then I rest like 5 min, but I always fail to run my track times and fall to a 7:15-740min/:mile pace
    HELP!!!!!

    Thanks

    Carlos – Sigmiami

  13. i have to run 5k on 24june nd am avrege runner nd can complete 1.6 km in 7 min, how can i prepare suggest me ‘thanx’

  14. Hi Jeff,
    So I’m a cross country runner that got injured last year and I want to make a comeback this year. My senior year in high school I was hitting low 19’s and I should have hit low 18’s last year but because of a groin injury I wasn’t able to and after that injury I’m afraid if I push myself like I did last year I’ll hurt myself again. What advise can you give me?

  15. Dear Jeff,
    Great info. I entered your 5k weekly plans into my garmin and its just a question of when am I good to go. I am doing my first marathon at end of Oct 2015. So 6 weeks to go. I run various miles 4 times a week currently. Can I just take out one of those days and add in your weekly plans? Or should I wait till the marathon is done before starting your 5k plan? My 5k pb at the moment is 20.54secs. Thanks in advance. 😉

    • Hi Michael, are you referring to the Run Keeper plan? Or the specific workouts from this post? You could add in one of your easy days and replace it with a workout, but make sure you are conservative with it if your body is not used to the workouts. This is an article about 5k and 10k training, so we would not recommend you use these workouts, but we have plenty more articles on some marathon workouts including this one https://runnersconnect.net/running-training-articles/best-marathon-workout/

      However, at this point, it may be a little too late for you to add in workouts that could put you at a risk of injury if your body is not used to it. We would love to help you with the 5k plan in the future though, email us once your marathon is complete, and we can get you set up! Good luck!

  16. I’m a sophomore on my high school cross country team, and last year I ended with a PR of 19:22 – but so far this second year I haven’t improved at all since last year. I did a lot more running over the summer than I did last year, and I feel stronger as a runner; my mile time has improved by 20 seconds(down to 5:30), and I’m running farther on our long days and working harder on our speed and repeat days, but I’m not any faster in the 5k. Do you have any idea why, and can these workouts help me? Thanks in advance! (I also suffer from side stitches during the majority of our meets which I think is what is primarily holding me back)

  17. Hi I was wondering if it is possible for me to go through this workout plan starting in January for training for my upcoming 5k races. After my surgery and recovery (should be done about January) i’d like to get my best time 24:30 and bring it down to 20:00 by next August….do you think it’s possible?

    • Hi Kara, thanks for reaching out. Unfortunately we cannot answer that question for you as it is impossible to tell without a true assessment. We would be happy to coach you towards that goal if you would like, but otherwise, the best advice we can give you is to follow the recommendations in these posts the best you can, and allow your body to show you the result 🙂

  18. Coaches,

    I can currently run a 20:30 5K. I would like to run a 19:30 3.5 mile. Do you think it’s realistic to run that by the beginning of May? I’ve had those times years ago. If it helps, I just did a 15K in 1:10. Any input is appreciated.

    • Hi Ryan, it would be almost impossible for us to answer that as we do not know your training plan or your history. We would love for you to become one of our athletes to help you get there, otherwise, all we can recommend is to follow the articles in this guide and see if you can do it! We wish you all the luck!

  19. Hi Coaches! Quick question I want to run a sub 20 5k. My training now is roughly 30 miles a week. One day a week I do a 10 minutes out slow and 10 minutes back really fast. Every other week a track workout consisting of a mile warm up and then roughly 8×400’s at 1:40 each with a 2 minute recovery. My fastest ever 5k was a 20:59. On Sundays I try to do a longer run than the other days, like 5 miles. Any suggestions? Plus I suffer from Chronic Anemia of to which I have to take iron constantly. Ferritin goes between 3-40 and Hemoglobin 8-11 constantly. Thank you! Lori

    • Hi Lori, did you listen to our podcast episode with Pam Hinton, you will probably enjoy this if you struggle with anemia https://runnersconnect.net/rc77 As for your training, all the information you need for 5k training can be found here on this page 🙂 If you would like more specific advice, we would love to help you train towards that sub 20 minute 5k, just let us know if you are interested in our coaching. Hope this helps!

    • Hi Evan, these workouts are supposed to be performed once per week, with the remaining runs being very easy and slow to allow for recovery. You may wish to add a second workout in if you are experienced, but we would recommend making this the primary focus to start with. I would encourage you to check out the webinar, and you will learn more about how to set up your training for success in the 5k. Hope this helps!

      • great – thanks for your reply. so, with the one workout plus the slow recovery runs – how many workouts to you propose a week?

  20. Hi

    Im following the 5k specific workouts for advanced runners. Im five weeks into the program. Next week I’m supposed to do 2 x 1 mile at 3k-5k pace w/5 min rest, 2 x 400 meters at mile pace w/3 minutes rest. How long should the rest/recovery between 2 x 1 mile and 2 x 400 m?

    Second question, it says “Week 7: Race week” after week 5. Does that mean that I should have a week without intervals (week 6) or is it a typo?

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