Sub 20 5k Plan : FREE : Straightforward running training program – 19 too

Sub 20 5k plan

Sub 20 5k Plan

clickable to 6week plan

So you want a straightforward Sub 20 5k Plan to drop those tens of seconds from your PB/PR? A plan that will get you there quickly?

One for someone who probably only has 3 or so hours to run each week? (it’s further on in THIS post)

Sub 19 is the same training but, errr, harder to achieve!.

This post contains:

Background:

For mere mortals doing 5k in less than 20 minutes is an achievement. For top athletes and even for relatively casual amateur athletes it is a trivial achievement.

But you didn’t want to hear that. You wanted to know how to do it!

Can YOU realistically EVER do a sub-20 5k?

Firstly get an idea of just how easy or difficult it is going to be for you. This depends on whether or not you are male or female and how old you are. I don’t want to be sexist or ageist but those are key factors. For a 48 year old woman it is a heck of an achievement, much less so for a 20 year old man where very many of you should be able to do it from a good fitness base.

Here is a table showing the approximate age graded time that 20 minutes represents over a 5k. Most people can achieve a 70% performance with a bit of hard work and time. An 80% achievement is another kettle of fish totally. If you are just averagely fit now then to get more than 80% will probably take you a few years of hard work and continuous improvement … maybe 4 or 5 years if you are ‘getting on a bit’, whatever that means. If any of you competitive types want a 5k goal it would be to do an 80% Age Graded 5k time, it’s hard.

So 20 minutes for a 5k equals approximately:

vm45-49 71% age grade MOST DO-ABLE
SM35-39 67% age grade
sm20-24 64% age grade WALK IN THE PARK

vw45-49 82% age grade VERY HARD
Sw35-39 75% age grade
sw20-24 73% age grade

So now you know how serious you need to be in this little escapade of yours.

 Click (here) for more than ** 60 ** short-term tips and tricks for a PB this coming weekend. Can’t hurt?

A Rough Weekly Plan

sub 20 5k plan

Click to personalise plan

Here is a rough WEEKLY PLAN of what you should be doing to improve quickly over the next couple of months, to maximise the endurance base you have already built up. The 3 faster exercises should all be exhausting (and you have to know what that word means!), if not exhausting then go faster or rest less. These 3 faster sessions all work. If you are strapped for time AND DEDICATED don’t waste your time doing anything else (such as the slow easy one). Do them and do them HARD. BUT. Always, always rest the day after a hard session (ideally 2 days), always have every 4/5th week slightly easier than the previous 3; always have at least 2 days off before racing. Rest is FAR, FAR, FAR more important than you think it is, honest! PS Don’t forget to rest? (Did I mention rest and recovery?)

Obviously I’m not claiming this, or any, plan can perform miracles. If you are currently a flat-out 25 minute 5k runner then this plan will NOT work for you to get to sub 20 minutes in a 3 month time frame. Sure it will get you faster. But you will struggle soon enough as you lack a proper endurance base.

So, here is the straightforward plan. Same each week. If you can’t run non-stop for an hour (however slowly) then please do not consider doing this plan. Ideally you will already have a reasonable endurance base and what that very simplistically means is that you can run at an unchanging speed in Heart Rate Zone 2 for an hour whilst still being able to hold a conversation.

Always start the new week at exercise number 1 and forget the previous ones you missed:

Day 1. 3-4x1k at >5-10 secs/km faster than next race’s target pace, if you can – if you can’t, well, your sights are set too high for now. 3 minutes rest in between efforts.

Day 2 or 3. Optional SLOW/EASY recovery run, 40-75 minutes. Focus entirely on technique eg try to increase your cadence slightly higher then your current rate.You can go further than 75 minutes; and for the whole duration it should feel like you are able to hold a conversation. 5:00/km is not slow for YOU, 6:00/km is. And yes you really can run/jog at that speed. For sure.

Day 4.  5 mins at approx. >30 secs/km slower than your target race pace no rest then 3 mins at 10secs (+/-5) slower than target race pace. Repeat both with no rest. Then rest for 6 minutes and re-do all 4 effort periods again with no further rest (5+3+5+3+6+5+3+5+3). Again, if you can’t do it, your sights are set too high for now.

Day 5. Adaptation & Recovery day. Deep stretches to increase your range of motion (which will make you faster)

Day 6. Short speed intervals, 8x 1 minute (60-90 secs rest) at faster than target race pace. This should be faster than your 5x1km speed above, say at least 10 secs/km faster. With this one you can INcrease the recovery time up to 2.5 minutes providing you increase the effort-period pace. Aim for consistent maximum speed each time. This should be relatively easy for you, so you can go even faster.

sub 20 5k plan

click to personalise a plan

Day 7. Rest or an ‘intensive endurance long run’ of 60 minutes where you push the limit of where you can ‘just’ speak (so, 4 repeats of: 10 minutes in HR zone 2; plus 5 minutes in HR Zone 3; no rest) OR, if you don’t like ‘long’ runs, do 3×15 minutes with 5 minutes rest. Do each 15 minutes at target race pace less 30 seconds/km – this approximates a SWEETSPOT run (minimal damage/speedier recovery) OR, if you’re tired (probable) do an ‘extensive endurance long run’ of 60 minutes entirely in HR zone 2.

Periodic: Re-test your 5k PB once every 5-6 weeks after a 3 day abstinence taper and re-adjust your training PACE accordingly. Taper properly for your big race.

 

Personalise Your Training For Optimal Results

 

 

That’s about it (read the caveats, below, otherwise you WILL get injured). I can go on a bit in detail but that should keep you busy for 2 months!! If you are not closing in on achieving 20 minutes with this plan after 2 months then a longer time-frame plan would be wise and this will increase longer mileage training.  If your improvement stops happening with this (or any other) plan then you need to immediately re-evaluate/change your training as similar inputs will always give similar outputs. If this plan has not worked within 2 months then you will probably becoming psychologically fatigued with the continuous hard effort…take a rest, change your approach, review your stats to see how hard you really were trying and how well you were resting/adapting. Good luck.

Didn’t like that plan? Try this more scientific approach to a 5k plan using VDOT.

The above plan probably is a bit short on recovery time and short on strength and conditioning work with flexibility.

Caveats:

1: Do you think the plan has insufficient miles and no long slow run? Whatever you read; just plodding along in HR Zone 1 will not help you much at all – other than for recovery or technique/efficiency. Z1 is too slow even for a long slow run. Remember the above plan assumes/requires you already have an endurance base or it won’t work that well!

2: If you are in one of the groups where a sub-20 minute 5k is much more of an achievement then you might want to make the intensive endurance/long run (Day 7. in the ‘plan’) of higher importance each week to make sure you do actually do it weekly.

3: If you are WAY off achieving 20 minutes at present then, again, the intensive endurance/long runs will help significantly and maybe this plan is not YET for you. I would say a current level of 23 minutes for youngsters and 25 minutes for over 30s is quite a way off…you guys need to focus more on mileage/running economy…but you probably know best 😉

4: The target race pace is your next immediate, interim target NOT your ultimate sub-20 target. Be smart about setting these targets to “just a bit faster” than what you can currently do. Say 10 -20 seconds faster for your 5k time.

5: Ideally; week-on-week, you should change the exercise stimulus you give to your body. So, in my straightforward plan, adapt and complicate the plan by resting a bit less the following week or by going just that little bit faster the following week. Remember to really ease up every 4 – 6 weeks for a week and rest a bit more. Then get cracking all over again. I didn’t include this change in the plan as it complicates the broad thrust of the straightforwardness of what you need to do.

6: Don’t get waylaid by marathon runners telling you to do lots of long slow runs – it’s right for them of course; you are training various bodily systems differently to marathon runners. Basically more LSRs are of no massive, relatively immediate 5k benefit in themselves to your imminent 5k PB (you’ve already got your endurance base sorted, right? I have said that several times and you keep ignoring it). One way of looking at them is to say that they DO benefit you by ‘putting miles in the tank’ this means that you can spend those miles by training more intensely at a later date. This plan is about spending those miles you’ve banked. Also consider that the Zone 2 HR runs that I point to above should not actually be that slow for you – I guess it depends on your definitions of ‘slow’ and ‘long’. & also consider that obviously I do agree and understand that LSRs are important to building up any athlete’s endurance base as well as several other physiological adaptations.

7: You will need PROTEIN and CARBS and WATER immediately after exercise – for the sake of argument let’s just say ALWAYS after every exercise in my plan. Protein repairs, carbs refuel, water metaphorically lubricates – all pretty important really. Do some research on a balanced diet. Glass of milk and a banana will do nicely; whey protein, even better. Proper diet will add noticeably to your improving 5k times – much easier than training for those extra seconds.

8: Your running technique/form is important. HOWEVER, you don’t want to try to formally change it too much in the next 3 months. You’ll get injured. Don’t waste your time on this (yet!!). Over the longer/medium term running efficiency is VERY VERY important. If I said to you to get your technique right now and go for a PB in a year’s time you wouldn’t do it would you?! But that would be good advice. Perhaps you could aim to change your cadence to 90/180 over a few weeks if yours is currently below 85/170.

9: If you find the session nigh-on impossible, even with the maximum amount of rest then instead base them on your last PB. By definition that will be slower than your target PB. Many plans base training speeds on what you have RECENTLY achieved rather than what you want to achieve and that’s not a bad thing. They may well be nigh-on-impossible because you are not leaving sufficient time (2 days) between hard sessions AND BECAUSE you are doing other sessions TOO QUICKLY.

10: This is a hard-to-execute plan, if you keep doing it for longer than 2-3 months then you MAY WELL get injured and, in any case, your body may become adapted to a relatively fixed stimulus – which you would need to change to get better benefits. Lengthen your time frame and perhaps just do two of the hard sessions a week and some easier ones, be realistic.

11: I realise that many people will ignore the caveats and macho-like follow this until they get injured. Sometimes because they ‘feel’ able to push themselves. One of the ways your body can tell you that it is NOT ready for a hard training day OR that in fact it is ready to train HARDER is to use a simple and cheap app like BIOFORCEHRV or ITHLETE or ELITE HRV (there are many others, Google: waking HRV app). You only get ‘better’ when your body is adapting. These apps measure the body’s degree of adaptation each morning. They really do work and for free-to-£5/$5 I would say a VERY wise investment.

  1. Over 50? Well assuming you are given the go ahead for strenuous exercise then this sort of plan is suited to you. Research shows that you will reduce the natural decline in your VO2max capacity by doing these kind of intervals rather than lots of LONG distance work….honest!!! You should also do weights as you get older (well, when you are younger too of course for runners).
  2. DNA? Apparently some people respond better to endurance training and others respond better to ‘speed’ training. Which are you? You could tailor your training smarter if you knew. Have a look at 1 Minute Review – DNAFit – Detailed DNA analysis for athletes.

Remember I never said it was an easy plan, just a straightforward plan 😉

More Free Plans => HERE

Q: How long will SUB20 take me in (detail)?

A: Answer is HERE

 

 

 

 

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[…] 6. Exercises: You want go far wrong by doing these ‘straightforward’ sessions. […]

Steve
Guest

Looks like a great training plan, thanks. Quick question on session 2, when you say ‘3 mins at 5-10 secs below race pace’ do you mean faster than race pace?

Frikspen Zenden
Guest

I managed to break a sub 20 min 5K by focusing on cadence.

Search for 180 BPM 5K Challenge

Good luck and keep running!

the5krunner
Admin

slower oops sy

the5krunner
Admin

good question.
yes slower, will change ty.

tootallfritz
Guest

Glad to have found this! I’m going thru an adjustmment period due to injury and need to focus on short/fast for a while to keep the long run pounding to a minium. This gives me a bit of a guide.

the5krunner
Admin

fast is physically stressful too…but I know what you mean

Wendy
Guest

I’m on 20:35 for 5k at the moment and I’ve just finished a season of racing various distances so I’m planning to get stuck into 5k training in earnest now for the rest of the year and hopefully achieve my dream of sub 20 by Xmas. This plan looks good, if only I could find a flat stretch of road near me. Sadly it’s all hills round here so I’m not too sure I can do speedy intervals on a hill as I’d never manage the pace required. Hence I do my weekly intervals on the treadmill but now I want to increase to 2 speed sessions per week but reluctant to use the gym twice due to cost. Any suggestions ?

the5krunner
Admin

well the plan is paced based so I suspect that you need something a little more tailored to your precise needs with the hills. I guess you can do most of it based on heart rate but ultimately that speed session IMHO is best done based on pace and not high HR. You can get where you want to with one speed session a week so why not keep that one for the treadmill as present?

Wendy
Guest

Thanks for the quick response. I’ve been doing the one treadmill session for a while now and my last 5k pb was in March so I just thought if I upped it to 2 sessions a week it would benefit me. There is a very short stretch of (almost) flat near me, about 200metres so perhaps I could do something based around that and do the longer ones on the treadmill.

Wendy
Guest

I did session 3 tonight and it went well. I averaged 6:05 pace for the 20 reps which is roughly what I was aiming for.

the5krunner
Admin

awesome job…all 20 well done! you should be pretty much exhausted at the end..ie unable to do more. If not go faster next time! but try to keep each one minute interval at the same speed as the rest…difficult.

Wendy
Guest

Hi yes there were variations in speed, some were a bit slower than target but most were on, or a bit faster. I did them outdoors and it was quite windy on some of them hence the fluctuations. I was pretty exhausted but felt I could have probably done a couple more if I had too. Not that I wanted to of course…! Used to doing 24 X 200m on the treadmill so I guess mentally doing 20 seemed easier although of course they were longer reps.
Anyway did a 20:59 at parkrun today in cold and windy conditions. Am planning an attack on my pb next Saturday though it wont be a sub 20 attempt yet.

Wendy
Guest

I did session 2 today. It looked a bit of a beast on paper but it wasn’t that bad really. I did it on the treadmill so the pace was precise. I think I will slightly increase the pace next time.

the5krunner
Admin

🙂 treadmills are not always that precise. Make sure you have an incline to simulate, for example, wind resistance. I think from memory you need a 3-5% gradient. Session 2 SHOULD be quite hard. Maybe you are better than you think and haven’t set your next race target pace high enough 😉

Wendy
Guest

Sorry I phrased that all wrong. What I was trying to say was that the pace for each section was exact in that it was consistent, as it was fixed at whatever I speed I needed to do. We’ll see on Saturday if my target pace is realistic or not 🙂

Wendy
Guest

I managed to whack 13 seconds off my pb today so am now down to 20:22. Looks like I will have to increase the pace of those intervals now ! 😮

Wendy
Guest

Still plugging away at the plan. The speed of the reps is faster now and hence feels harder but I’m getthing through the sessions. Planning to re-test my pb again in a few weeks.

Ellen
Guest

Go Wendy go!

Evie
Guest

🙁 I’m down to 2 seconds over 20 minutes. I found it hard and only just doable. i think i could do sub20 now but my parkruns are too muddy. A word of warning would be to make sure you warm up properly and recover as the session really took it out of me. I had been doing lots of long runs which were great to a point and the point was 21 minutes. This short term speedwork idea knocked a minute off pretty quickly but i think only because i already had my base sorted out over the earlier part of the year
ty all….I need some encouragement to get going again thou..IT WAS HARD

Ian St.
Guest

I followed this a while back (early 2012) and yes it worked for me from 21-30 to 19-45 in 10 weeks and I’m the wrong side of 40. I’m currently 19:30 with 19 in sight. I never thought that would be possible. I think 5k’s plan is a good one to kick start you into a bit of quick improvement BUT (and i think she or he would agree) i think you need to introduce longer stuff after a couple of months at hitting this 20 minute barrier hard.

the5krunner
Admin

yes ian, i would say to have the longer stuff under your belt first though! but if things aren’t working out after a couple of months then i thnk you are right get back to the longer stuff that you have probably been neglecting for the previous 2 months. I’m going to write a post soon on longer runs and their benefits/best distances/HRs tht kind of stuff and maybe also a sub19 plan for you (well not just for you!)

Wendy
Guest

Cheers Ellen 🙂
Are you following this plan ? Or anyone else out there ? It would be good to hear how people are getting on

Wendy
Guest

Looks like it’s just me then, oh well ! Anyway, am planning another pb attempt at parkrun tomorrow but the weather doesn’t look favourable. Very cold and quite windy so not sure how it will go but will give it my best shot anyway.

Ellen
Guest

Well, I usually do the same 400m, 800m, or 1600m repeats and some hill sprints during the week. I’m at 20:38 for the 5k, so I started thinking it was maybe possible to go sub 20. I’m not following this plan exactly, but plan on incorporating one of these different workouts into my routine every once in awhile. How did the race go today??

Wendy
Guest

Hi Ellen, it was bitterley cold and a bit windy yesterday so I sort of knew the odds weren’t in my favour. I ran 20:35 so no pb but will continue with the training and try again in a few weeks. I’m not following the plan exactly as I feel the first 3 sessions are all hard workouts and I would struggle to fit the 4th one in aswell as there aren’t enough days in the week to rest/recover !
Good luck with your training, have you any 5k races coming up ?

Ellen
Guest

I think you’re super close! That’s a solid time in those kinds of conditions. I don’t have any races planned at the moment until December, but I might try to find some small 5k’s along the way to see how I’m progressing. When is the next one for you?

Wendy
Guest

Thanks. I’ll probably have another go at the end of November. Mind you, with the winter closing in it’s not really the best time of year for fast times but you never know. I’ve also got a 5 mile race this weekend so it will be interesting to see if my 5k training will have any impact over that distance. Do you have a parkrun anywhere near you ?

Ellen
Guest

Nope, I had to google parkrun to see what it was 🙂 We do have QUITE a few races though, it doesn’t seem too tough to find a 5k any given weekend. Good luck in the 5 miler!

Wendy
Guest

Thanks Ellen. I had a good run today despite the very wet and cold conditions. I ran 34:12 which is a pb by 34 seconds. I last raced 5 miles in June so I think this plan is helping my speed. Now back to the main goal of that sub 20 5k !

Evie
Guest

yes me too 🙂 i have a nagging feeling that it is the 1km repeates that do the most benefit and I HATE THOSE THE MOST

Wendy
Guest

Evie, I actually hate session 2 the most. I really dread it ! Has session 3 changed ? I thought it was 20 X 1 min and now it’s 12 X 1 min ? At least that’s what I’ve been doing anyway…

maggie
Guest

This seems do-able. Has anyone achieved close to 20 yet?

Wendy
Guest

Hi Maggie, we are currently at :
Ellen 20:38
Wendy 20:22
Evie 20:02
How is everyone doing with the training ?

the5krunner
Admin

awesome! not sure how long you’ve been doing it for now. Remember that if you keep doing the same thing your body does not adapt as well as it might…so mix it up. reduce the recovery period, add extra intervals, go just a little bit faster, do the exercises in reverse..something like that. a nice december saturday morn with a slight ground frost and no wind would be perfect conditions if your course is on grass.

Ellen
Guest

Evie is SO CLOSE!

Wendy
Guest

Yes, I’m sure if she gets the right conditions and a fast course she will do it !
I’m going to have another shot at it next weekend ( weather permitting !)

Wendy
Guest

I’ve been doing it since ariound mid September and while I have seen improvements in my speed, I did not break the 20 minute barrier which I had hoped to do before the end of this year. I do feel however that when the weather warms up a bit I will achieve my goal as I find it harder to run fast when it’s very cold. I’ll be having a break from the speed sessions over Christmas and will start again in January.
Re mixing it up, yes I do that, I never rigidly do the same sessions on the same days, and I have started to reduce the recoveries on the km reps to see if this will help.

the5krunner
Admin

hey it’s warm now!!! get going 🙂

John
Guest

Thanks for the training schedule GMSP. I was on a forced break as we had twins in Sept and there was NO time for training. Got back on the horse with a 27min run in December and followed (more or less over christmas) the schedule. Happily just posted 23m09s today ! Turning 45 this year so I know I´m running out of time to do this. But I have hit 20m19s in 2011 so with a little luck and a lot of effort I hope to get there in 2013…Best of luck to all of you out there.

the5krunner
Admin

@John, 45 is DEFINITELY not an obstacle to going sub 19 or even sub 18! There are still 40+ year old olympians. Perhaps belief is more of an obstacle 😉 OK it is more difficult of course. Just go for it AND RECOVER. Exercise is bad for you in itself…it’s just the stimulus that your body needs to improve. As you get older you need more recovery and that means perhaps less time to train…

the5krunner
Admin

hmmm those babies will soon be ideal for being pushed around in one of those running buggies. “I’m just taking the kids out for a walk darling”…”but why are you wearing your running shoes?”

John
Guest

Thanks for the pep talk! I do a lot of walking with the babies as an active recovery and really lucky to get 4 sessions of hard training I each week, so it will be slow but it feels wonderful to have a target to aim for. Happy new year all.

Ellen
Guest

This is our year guys, I can feel it 🙂 Go get after it and good luck!

Wendy
Guest

I didn’t do much running over Christmas and then I was ill for a few days so I’m just getting back into it now. Hopefully I will get back up to speed soon and be ready for another pb attempt in a month or so. Good luck everyone, lets smash that sub 20 !

the5krunner
Admin

you’ve been going since september on this…hopefully you have taken a break from the hard stuff in the plan and got some longer runs with more miles under your belt too. good luck for 2013

the5krunner
Admin

PPS please remember that this plan (nor any other probably) will not work if you keep doing it forever. There is a point where you have to change the stimulus your body receives. If you have been doing it for 3 months I would say that is CERTAINLY time to change what you do.

Eric Smith
Guest

GMSP,
I just found this blog. I am Male 51 yo. I did 20.08 last summer (July) and want to target sub 20 for this July. What is the %performance for my category for 20 minute pace (VM50-54?)? Is sub-20 achievable for me? What does J,S and V stand for in Male categories?
Finally, should I do some other type of training regimen now if I want to build stamina but want to peak in July? Thanks!

the5krunner
Admin

junior, senior and vet. not sure of the % performance. Do a parkrun and knock those 8 seconds off then you will know! You can DEFINATELY do it.

for peaking in july then yes build lots of stamina now and throw in the occasional temp run. 10-12 weeks before the big race crank up the speed work

Wendy
Guest

I still think it’s a good plan and I did improve but it was the wrong time of year for me. My last attempt at the start of December saw me just 3 seconds away from my pb in sub zero temperatures and I believe I would have done better in milder conditions.
I’m still going to follow some of the sessions but I have a few other races coming up that I need to train for so I won’t be focussing solely on 5k. It still is my main long term goal however and I wont rest til I do it !

Hoady
Guest

Just found this plan, and it looks great. I’m doing 23:30 parkruns at the moment as a male 45 yo, and just want to improve as best I can. I have some kind of base, and do regular 90min weekend long runs in Zone 2. What are realistic weekly incremental improvements to my parkrun I could expect from sticking to this plan?

the5krunner
Admin

Hi, I guess it depends on how often you want to train. Is your zone 2 correct? IF you are running on the zone2/3 boundary and your PACE/SPEED is fairly constant then you need to up your speed and/or re-do your zones. also make those runs harder by having 5 out of every 15 minutes in zone 3. at the end of 90 mins it should have felt like you were trying.
having said that this plan is one that assumes you have a good base and you want to do the best you can in 2-4 months times. so I guess you could knock a couple of minutes off 23:30. above the 2-4 month time horizon then you need to focus on doing what you are doing with the longer runs and the tempo runs.

Hoady
Guest

Thanks 5krunner, I think I can manage that. I like the idea of varying pace on the long run.

John
Guest

Ok, been following this plan as best I can for two months now, and have made great improvements to my 5km time. Now I feel my legs / hips asking for a rest. While my physio says everything is fine (apart from my core strength) I need to pause the improvement and go cycling or swimming for a week or so. The thing is that I LOVE this training plan and find it hard to stop….anyone else in this boat ?

the5krunner
Admin

Thank you very much for the feedback. you;ve done a good job. have a rest now and recover. cross train. enjoy. hten come back and do it again in a few more months time

Owen
Guest

Did a half marathon on Saturday 16th March in 1hr58mins and this has spurred me on to improve my 5k and 10k with a view to building more on half and eventually full marathons. Bought a Garmin Forerunner 310XT GPS watch so was looking for a detailed 5k plan to set up on the watch and put it and me through our paces! Instead of setting my plan to sub 20 min I set it to achieve 22.5 mins instead for the moment. To set a baseline for myself I ran a 5k this evening and did it in 24:46 mins. Was very tired afterwards. With the last 2k spent in heart rate zone 5. I’m wondering should I stick with 22.5 mins as a target for 5k or should I just go all out and go for the 20 mins?

the5krunner
Admin

I reckon always have your next goal no more than 60 seconds away. Get your HR zones updated to your current form (I prefer Friel based on measurable LTHR) and then do lots of Z2/Z3 borderline base work for 4 weeks 3-4 times a week then really have a crack at some speedwork and watch those PBs fly in.

Anonymous
Guest

I agree- it’s good to set the bar high for yourself, but going sub 23, and then sub 22, etc., can do a lot for your motivation and feeling of accomplishment before you reach sub 20

the5krunner
Admin

yep

Owen
Guest

Thanks for the advice. I’ll stick with 22.5 and have it (hopefully) thatI can do that comfortably with lower HR rates before I go for the big one (sub 20).

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Wendy
Guest

I’ve had a 3 month break from the plan as I’ve been doing longer stuff. I’m now ready to start dedicated 5k training again so it’s back to the plan and hopefully I’ll nail that sub 20 to the floor !

the5krunner
Admin

Perfect! a bit of long stuff and then a bit of variety. You’ll do it.

Martijn
Guest

Thanks for this straightforward training plan. I’ve read through it and most of the comments. Started on the first sessions this week. I’ve took a minute off my last 5k and started calculating the sessions.

Could you explain what is meant by “rest”. Does it mean you have slow down, start walking or even stop for some stretching?

If you would plan 4 sessions a week, between which sessions you would advice to skip the day of rest?

the5krunner
Admin

well done with the improved time

rest normally means walking. i wouldn’t stretch.

the faster the session the more rest you need afterwards to reciver as there is more damage to your body. so after the fastest session you def need rest after the longest session maybe not.

Martijn
Guest

Thanks for your reply. I geussed ‘walking’ was meant but I wasn’t sure. I’m trying to stick to the training plan but it’s not that easy if you’re too enthousiastic. I also found that sticking to a certain training pace is rather difficult with a simple stopwatch, especially during session 2.

After 2 weeks of training I ‘accidentily’ re-tested my PB and it seemed I was able to walk the 5k at 22:30 (1 minute faster than my PB of 3 weeks ago). Should I lower my target race pace with 30 or 60 seconds already?

the5krunner
Admin

it’s a sub-20 minute plan. so it is not a trivial thing to do. you should really get a hrm/GPS if you can.

not sure about the re-test comment. PB=personal Best (taken to mean relatively recent PB in the context of this plan). So the figure won’t go down.

If you’re finding it too easy you can always speed up sessions 1, 2 or 3. Or you can reduce the walking rest in between or jog in between, That’ll curb any excess energy soon enough! But seriously it must be good to have that keenness to improve and work hard next time, you can overtrain and lose that keenness..def a bad thing.

Don’t forget to read all the caveats at the end of the plan.

Jonathan
Guest

This is just what I’ve been looking for, thank you! Am currently at a 20:48 pb, having done a lot of long distance work for a marathon last year. Keen to see if I can break the 20min barrier by June!

Wendy, have enjoyed reading your training odyssey on here – it sounds like you’re _really_ close to achieving your goal. And now the VLM has happened, we all know the weather will be more amenable 🙂

Cheers,
Jonathan

the5krunner
Admin

Jonathan I would REALLY go for it ASAP if you have the marathon base. train VERY hard and then set your sights on a PB day and taper properly for it along with my home page of PB tips of course.

Jonathan
Guest

Thanks for that – VERY hard training commencing today (in the sunshine!), so let’s see how it goes.
Being the uber-geek that I am, I’ve created a little training log spreadsheet based on your training plan:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0MtAdxrD-cGX3pKN3BnTEpYTEE/edit?usp=sharing

13th July is my target PB day 🙂

Wendy
Guest

Thanks Jonathan. I really hope I achieve it as it’s the one distance that I want to crack more than anything else and I could retire happy once I’ve done it ! At the moment I’m having a lot of tightness in my legs which is holding me back a bit and making training quite difficult. Cracking the sub 20 by June would be fantastic, best of luck to you !

Jonathan
Guest

Let’s do it!

Wendy
Guest

Thanks both for those tips. Have to confess I hardly ever stretch as I’ve got away with it up til now (been running about 6 years). Since this tightness has started to hinder me though, I have started stretching and will try the deep heat too. Lots of summer races coming up and I don’t want to miss out !

Wendy
Guest

I was doing 3:54 per km with 4 mins rest then I reduced the recoveries and I found this extremely hard, I was almost dead by the end of it. So I reduced the speed and the recoveries and now I’m doing 3:58 per rep with 2:30 recovery which is still hard but a bit more manageable. I will drop to 2 mins recovery on the next session and eventually 90 secs. My training has been stunted a bit lately due to very tight hamstrings and calves. Any tips for sorting this out apart from endless stretching ?

John
Guest

Wendy, I’ve suffered with the same tight calf muscle issues. If i’m going on a hard run I pre-massage it with DeepHeat cream, and sometimes afterwards too. It keeps things in check. Plus all the stretching.

PS. Might be worthwhile getting someone to check the way you stretch as not all method are equal…

the5krunner
Admin

I think the massage and stretch should be sufficient to avoid injury. I had the same problem years back and it was basically due, in my case, to slightly weak calf muscles.
So: One straight leg on the ball of your foot on the edge of a step. Fully stand then fully drop bending at the ankle. Whilst fully dropped bend at the knee, unbend. then repeat N times then do other leg.
Then: Two straight legs against a wall. Up onto the balls of your feet QUICKLY. Roll down on the outside of your feet SLOWLY. Repeat N times.

the5krunner
Admin

go, go, go guys.

Wendy
Guest

Jonathan are you planning to test your speed before the big day (13th July) or just go out all guns blazing on that day ? I like your training spreadsheet. Just a thought re the 5 X 1k reps, I think the rests are a bit too long so I have shortened mine to 2:30 and plan to reduce them further. This is purely my opinion and is of course up to the individual

the5krunner
Admin

yes you could even go lower than 2:30 with the rests. maybe 90 seconds. Makes it harder of course. If you are finding it too easy then maybe as well as the recovery being too long your 5 min pace is too slow.??? Maybe do a parkrun with a mini taper to re-evluate where you are and hence your training speeds?

the5krunner
Admin

my frequent endeavours at just heading for it all out on PB day often led to under achievement. Wendy’s advice re trying it out couple or 3 weeks before is a good idea. Just do it as another training session but try to go as fast as you can. You probably won’t get within 30 secs of your desired time as you will be fatigued from training however that is GOOD as you know then that proper tapering and race prep will ‘easily’ knock those 30 seconds off.

Ken
Guest

Hmmm Im a 38 y/o male who has weight lifted for years but Ive only been running for 6 months. In 6 months i went from not being able to run 1 mile to running 8 @ 7:56 pace and I timed a 5k today on a kinda hilly course in 22:15. I only run between 15-20 miles a week to boot. Think I may have the genetics to break the 20K? I think my times are exceptional for only 6 months of running and being almost 39 with only 15-20 mpw. Any input?

the5krunner
Admin

Hi Ken, that is great progress. You can even achieve sub-20 from focussed intervals with that amount of mileage, that would not be exceptional. However 5k is much more than a strength event. you would obviously have the strength from your weight training but you have certainly done very well in getting the endurance element of your fitness to where it is in such a short period of time. Keep up the good work 😉

Ellen
Guest

Alright, I’m back! I just finished my 52 mile trail race, so now it’s time to recover from that and start working on the fast 5k again. I’ve really found that hard cycling helps improve my Vo2 max much like a track workout, so since I’m prone to injuries, I’ll probably do a crit race one a week instead of one of these track workouts. Now that the snow is gone it’s oooonnnn!

Wendy
Guest

Welcome back Ellen, let’s do this !

Paul Cooney
Guest

Hi
Goal of going under 20 minutes for 1st time in about 7 weeks..
Question…is there any correlation between what time you will do based on times you can run the 5×1 km in point 1
For example if I can run them in 3:50 should I be able to go 4:00 per km for the 5km race?
Love the plan and all the comments here

the5krunner
Admin

If you can do 5x1km with 3 min RI @ 3:50 then you can certainly do a sub20 5k. Whether or not you WILL do it is another matter. Look at another of my posts for tips on performing well on the day http://the5krunner.com/2011/06/18/5k-pb-how-can-i-get-a-parkrun-5k-pb-this-saturday/ . tapering is VERY important. You will be doing the 3:50s whilst fatigued to some degree. Aim for 19:30……you always go faster when racing. Good luck and tell us how you did.

the5krunner
Admin

yes garmin can do these sessions. not sure about that specific watch. garmin training centre should be the (rubbish) software that can do it. or use sporttracks aor use the watches high-tech menu to set up the workout!! good luck

Paul Cooney
Guest

Hi
Bought a Garnim 410 to assist with training.
Is it possible to set up all 4 training sessions using the Garnim, not great with technology …any tips would be appreciated thanks!

Paul Cooney
Guest

Thanks for tips and I agree from past experience I tend to run faster on race day (so 19:30 it is)…a combination of adrenalin and competitive streak.
I have been loosely following your program, doing 6×1 km intervals with 2 minute rest, doing short and sharp hill sprints and a longer run with varying tempos.
I will modify program to be more align with yours and will check out your taper tips. Will keep you posted on my training and race result

jb82
Guest

Just started your training plan yesterday. I’m 30 and currently running around the 23:15 mark. I’ll keep you posted on how this works for me. I like how you stick to 3-4 days of less than 1 hour workouts. Makes it easier to stick to when you have a demanding toddler in the house!

the5krunner
Admin

pesky kids don’t go with training!! yes I guess that is part of the reason for the popularity of this sort of thing. Watch the recovery.

jb82
Guest

Just 3 weeks on and I’m down to a pb of 22.24 and the course was pretty similar to the one i got my last pb on. I put half of the improvement down to the intensity of this plan and 1/2 down to working on raising my cadence this week. I felt I could go even faster or for longer at the pace I was going at. So looking good. Thanks! Oh and the lbs have been falling off. I must have lost 6lbs of excess weight since starting this plan.

eric smith
Guest

the5krunner: I am back on track now after 3 weeks rest. The important race for me got postponed from July end to mid Sept, so no problems with my goals for this year. I guess I misunderstood the plan. I thought you said that what one did after the 4th day was optional. So that I am clear, should I run only 4 days per week and start the cycle again the next week? Or do I rest one day or two days? Please clarify how many days I should wait between cycles and what I should do for running between cycles. Thanks.

the5krunner
Admin

yes 4 days a week. you can only add in RECOVERY (Zone 1) runs if you want but they will make little difference to anything much. so each week you can only fit in 3 or 4 of the sessions…start again next week from the first one. the fourth one is the easier of the 4 so if you do that on sunday and then want to start again on number 1 on Monday I guess that’s ok. but again, you need to recover. the benefit comes from the repairs to your body during recovery (adaptation).

Bill
Guest

I’ve been enjoying this plan; and, for me, it seems to self adjust the goal pace as I start feeling a little better (I shot for a 21:30 for my first race in the plan and got a 20:52).

So, on to my real question. From this reply I gather that the in-between days are supposed to be complete rest days. I have been doing some light biking and a core workout on those days, but I wanted to see if anyone had any ideas for structuring those days.

Thanks!

the5krunner
Admin

Yes complete rest but weights or Z1-Z2 cycling would be fine. There’s more than just core: plyo, weights and flexibility in general are important

the5krunner
Admin

good job! keep the improvement coming.

Paul Cooney
Guest

I cracked it…my race is on in 2 weeks, thought I would do a trial this morning and ran 19:48
Splits were
3:53 4:01 4:01 3:57 3:56
I am 47 this year and suffer shin splints so have been doing just 3 runs a week, stretching and icing and listening to my body when it needs a rest
My training times were good so I was confident having stuck to the program would beat 20 minutes
Target for race is at least 19:30 now…thanks again for the program and tips
Would love to hear how others are going

eric smith
Guest

I am 51 and would caution older runners against using this program to aggressively. I was seeing good progress (best time was 20:10) but last month I doubled up on the program a couple of times (8 days straight of running) and I pulled my groin muscle a couple of hours after doing the 12×1 min sprints. I am a fan of the regimen, but will not push that hard again in the future.

the5krunner
Admin

???Eric why would you double up on an aggressive plan? Training is BAD for you. you need TIME TO RECOVER – that’s the time when the body adapts to training. The plan specifically says you should always rest the day after a hard session. that’s REALLY important. Hope you weren’t too badly injured, remember the deep stretches post-exercise when you are nice and warm.

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tom
Guest

I only run 3 times a week because i have patella femoral syndrome, but managed to run 19:50 for a 5km. to get to sub 19, would i need to increase frequency or do you reckon i can still keep improving at 3 times per week?

the5krunner
Admin

depends on how old you are. 35+ and I would say that the next minute is much harder to knock off from 20 to 19. There’s another post on here where I say how long it will take to knock the various 30 seconds off your PB. I reckon you will need to increase your frequency and play the longer game, not risking injury.

tom
Guest

I’m only 19, so maybe there is more room for improvement. I want to increase frequency but to do this should I maybe cut mileage in my other three sessions? At the moment I do a 6-7km long interval type run, a 6-7km track session and a 8km long run. I would like to add another, in terms of a run off the bike (triathlete) but I’m not sure about it.

the5krunner
Admin

Tom, yes of course there is MUCH room for improvement. I don’t know about your condition. It’s not just frequency it’s also intensity. It’s the intensity that will most likely cause you problems. 6/7/8km is not a long run – a long run is >60 minutes even if you are training for a sprint tri. so keep your track session for speed + try to do a tempo run of 30 mins off a 30 min (or more, ideally 45-60 min) bike + try to do a 60min plus zone 2/3 threshold run going under/over your aerobic threshold.

tom
Guest

19:15 last week and 20:03 today in shocking conditions. Also what would a runner who normally splits their first km in 3:29 for a 5k end up running? I burned myself bad in the first km today and learnt a lesson

the5krunner
Admin

A: Depends on how flat out the 3:29 is and what you are capable of Nice even kms is prob the best bet for most of us give or take a tad.

5*3:30 as you know is 17:30 3:29 – that’s WAY to fast probably even for an 18:30 Maybe try to go sub19 first on even splits

KR
Guest

OK just turned 39 been running 8 months now. Ran 5k today first race in over 3 years @ 21:44 Am i close enough within striking distance for this program to work?

the5krunner
Admin

yes. over 10-12 weeks it will improve you as much as your current base/physiology allows in a straightforward way. Will that be 20 minutes…? could be. Is it the best possible way to improve you in 10-12 weeks? no! but it’s a straightforward way to improve quite a bit, quite quickly. And it is not easy. If you want to improve even more it will be very hard.

I am just about to upload a 10k serious training plan ie requiring much more commitment that will appear on a new ‘training program’ menu at the top of the pages today (25Jun 2013!) or you could try the 38min 10k program that’s already there (modifying the speeds)

Paul Cooney
Guest

Just completed the 5.7km (not 5km) in the Gold Coast Marathon in 21:56 which works out to be a 19:14 5km run so I am rapt. Even won my age group 45-49…put a lot of it down to this fantastic program and plenty of stretching and recovery
Next goal is to smash 40 minute 10 km…couldn’t locate the program for this?

the5krunner
Admin

hey well done! you’ve hit peak performance. My plan stops working now! get back an focus on a bit more of the longer stuff especially for a shot at a 40 min 10k (which you should be fairly easily able to do). there is a plan for a 38 min 10k on this site…just adapt the speeds a bit.