5k Training Plan | Sub 19, 20, 21, 24 | running parkrun

Couch to 5k5k Training Plan – Running Plans for all levels


When training for a 5k run, complete beginners will find that the best couch to 5k plan is the free app from NHS England.

If you are a beginner, don’t waste your time buying any other app or plan, it’s proven, it’s free and I recommend it. Download the Apple version here or the Android version here.

For those of you who want to move to the next stage in your running then…read on.




5k Training Plan – Running a PB/PR

My personalised 5K training plan for running races is for improver-to-good 5k runners, tailored to your precise ability level to give you the best guidance on achieving optimal results over a 6-week or 12-week timeframe.

This PRECISE plan comes DETAILED NOTES & INSIGHTS and is perfect for 5k runners currently between 26:00/5k and 18:00/5k. Awesome for parkruns too.
5k training plan running

Signup for a 6-week rapid-improver plan for a 5k PR/PB

New 12-week option – Special Offers Below

This is a paid-for 5k training plan which is precisely personalised to your current ability level using several proven running algorithms. The resulting 5k training plan gives optimal training for 6-12 weeks with everything directed towards a maximum PB / PR performance on your RACE day.

Your 5k training plan provides detailed, daily instructions for effective training. Further, extensive, guidance & notes enable you to adapt your training to work even harder on key days when you feel good OR what to do when you feel the need to back off.

From a recognised Age-Group triathlon/run coach who has guided numerous athletes into international competition, highly placed finishers and a European medallist.

For those in the UK: If your target race is a parkrun then this plan is parkrun-friendly ie most Saturdays have 5k runs in the schedule.

What you need to send me (use the form below):

  1. A recent 5k PB / PR. ‘Recent’ means within the last 2-3 months. Alternatively, an estimate of what you could achieve NOW but please DO NOT SEND your target time.
  2. Your email address
  3. Payment for your selected option by PayPal to in**@th*********.com – you submit your answers AND then click the Paypal button

(Plan details, below)


All the optional information is useful for the personalisation of the plan and enables me to give you extra feedback.


Paypal checkout(required)

Plan Duration(required)

Can I store your details?(required)

Are you in the UK?(required)

You must click the SUBMIT BUTTON as well as complete PAYPAL checkout

The personalised 6-week 5k plan rapid improver plan is GBP£7.00. Clicking/acceptance means you are medically fit for strenuous exercise. Thank you!



The personalised 12-week 5k plan is GBP£10.00. Clicking/acceptance means you are medically fit for strenuous exercise. Thank you!



You must hit the SUBMIT BUTTON as well as complete PAYPAL checkout

ESSENTIAL READING: Personalised 10K Training Plan – Sub 40, Sub 45, Sub 50


5k training plan runningOptionally please provide the following which further refines and improves the personalised plan you get.

  1. OPTIONAL: A race date (day & month). (Default: day 1 starts on the first Sunday after payment is received)
  2. OPTIONAL: The format in which you want speed/pace presented ie pace or speed, metric or imperial (Default: metric pace)
  3. OPTIONAL: Additionally send me a RECENT STANDARD RACE DISTANCE long-distance PB/PR. So that could be a marathon, half marathon or 10 miles or 10k (optional). This is because generic race prediction tools are usually inaccurate. Such tools state trained- long-term potential against a standardised distance/pace curve. The reality is that YOUR distance/pace curve has different abilities depending on how well-trained you are over various distances. Providing a long-distance time enables better long-term training targets to be set for you
  4. OPTIONAL/IMPORTANT: Your current number of RUNNING hours per week.
  5. OPTIONAL: Your name
  6. OPTIONAL: Gender Male/Female
  7. OPTIONAL: Date of birth or age (your age and gender are required to produce age-graded info)
  8. OPTIONAL: Your parkrun ID number (I will look at your performances)
  9. OPTIONAL: The maximum number of hours you want to build up to train to (12-week plan, enter it anyway)

Do you want this 5K Running Plan For FREE?

I will give this plan free to everyone who signs up as a supporter/subscriber (sign up here). That costs money so it’s not free, but if you want to support the other work here then it’s a good option where you also get something tangible in return. (Hurry, I might withdraw this offer if too many supporters request it as it takes a little while to produce each plan and my time is limited).


The 12-week plan is provided in two 6-week parts with the second being adapted to your actual progress over the first 6 weeks. The two plans are different in structure and with different training intentions. The first 6 weeks deliver modest performance improvements BUT better prepare you for the rigours of the second 6 weeks.

What you will get from your personalised 5k training plan

  1. A customised/personalised day-by-day training plan for 6 weeks in PDF/Text format, sent by email, finishing on your race day is sent within 24 hours. IF YOU HAVE NOT RECEIVED IT PLEASE CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDER – I ALMOST ALWAYS SEND IT WITHIN 24 HOURS. If your PayPal address is different check the inbox for that too. (Your PayPal address should be verified but the email address you typed in might be miss-typed)
  2. The plan will be specified with the speed/pace provided in the format you requested with an additional indication of your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)
  3. Correct intensity workouts that are correctly structured and spaced throughout the plan.
  4. Proper amounts of recovery time to adapt to your workouts
  5. Increased intensities over the weeks before peaking and tapering to your race.
  6. Notes to tell you how to over-achieve in selected sessions if you feel particularly good on those days
  7. Notes to give you alternative workouts on selected days.
  8. A projected race-day target time/pace
  9. Race-day nutrition/supplementation guidance
  10. Race-day warmup guidance.
  11. Optional: A longer-term generic target (based on the optional provision by you of your parkrun ID and long-distance performances) along with a general guide on weaknesses to address in your long-term training.
  12. Day 1 of the week is assumed to be Sunday with the last day/RACE DAY on Day 7, Saturday.
    • If your race is on a Sunday then the plan WILL AUTOMATICALLY have your CORRECT dates and days of the week. HOWEVER, Monday will then default to your long run day (on the occasions when a long run is specified)
  13. New Feature: With gender, age, time and current 5k PB info I will also send an analysis of the difficulty/ease for you to achieve 30-second improvements from where you are now. Not available anywhere else AFAIK!

5k training plan runningWhat you will not get from the personalised 5k training plan

  1. Please comment, below, for support. Please note that your plan may be very differently structured to someone else who gets a plan from here.
  2. HR Zones: See the FAQ below
  3. There is no opportunity to exchange emails to discuss the plan BUT I will address any errors in the plan for whatever reasons and will enter into a discussion to resolve any errors.
  4. Rest days will be set. You will not have the ability to specify the day of the week for ‘rest days’ or ‘long run’ days. (When set, the long run is on the first day of the week, usually Sunday). If you want this level of adaptability or to know what to do in the event of missed training sessions; mis-performed training sessions; or illness, then you need to get a coach! I’m happy to train you one-on-one, explained (here).


5k training plan running

For an additional GBP 25.00, you get the same plan and I’m happy to exchange 2 or 3 emails and give a reasonably considered response to answer questions about the plan or to point your training in a good direction. I’m making this option as I sometimes get into detailed email conversations for the basic option. I have to eat and my time is limited! You can pay the GBP 25.00 also by PayPal. Included in this option is the estimation of your Heart Rate training zones if you send a TCX, FIT or HRM file that includes a flat-out 20-minute effort with elevated heart rate ie just running 20 minutes is not enough as your heart will take 5-10 minutes to ‘get up to a proper level’. A 10k PB/PR EFFORT IS PERFECT or a 5k PB might be OK if you are finishing in over 25 minutes. It doesn’t matter too much if this is from performances 6-9 months ago as your HR zones will be similar now.

Caveats: (This) page lists many of the caveats and indicates how honest you need to be to yourself about what you can achieve. The main caveat is that you need to ensure you are fit to undertake strenuous exercise.

Thank you for supporting this site: Please recommend this plan to others if you like it and/or comment below. You can always pay more through PayPal if you like 😉 Instead, you could click on one of the Amazon links on the right-hand side of the desktop version of this site and the next thing you buy there I get a small commission. Thank you!

FAQ – Personalised 5k Training Plan

  1. What if my race is 9 weeks away?
    • A: Sign up for the 12-week plan and start 3 weeks into it…or wait 3 weeks and sign up for the 6-week plan (I schedule for your race date in either case)
  2. What if I want to achieve a sub20 5k? Which plan should I choose
    • It’s great to have goals but you can only improve by so much in a given period. I could send you a sub-15 minute 5k plan but you would not be able to execute it (neither could I !!). Your plan is targeted to your CURRENT ability and to your target race date and available time to train.
    • As a guide, if you can run at 4:00/km for 6 (six) minutes tomorrow then this plan should get you to sub20 on race day.
  3. I want to be trained by HR. Does your plan support this?
    • Strictly ‘no’ it does not but it, sort of, does. RPE zones are provided for each workout and, for longer runs, these should match your HR zones. In any case, for shorter intervals, you should be training by running power, RPE or PACE/SPEED and NOT BY HR as it takes 30 seconds, or so, for your heart to respond to your actual effort.
  4. I’ve paid, where is my plan?
    • Most likely you haven’t completed the PayPal checkout, this happens a LOT.
    • Also please ensure you press the submit button to submit your info.
    • If payment was sent in the wrong currency I simply refund it.
    • Please allow 24 hours. Rarely, I do not respond much quicker than 24 hours. Something is wrong if you have not received it after 12 hours.
    • Have you included your CORRECT email address? this happens **a LOT**. I tried the one you supplied AND the one linked to your PayPal account.  Sometimes I put a message below in the comments to try to find you!
    • Check your junk email folder.
  5. Is the plan fixed?
    • There are some elements of the plan that are fixed in terms of the scheduling but, no, it is not a ‘fixed’ plan.
    • Some sessions are removed for some abilities
    • All speeds/paces are personalised
    • The 5k running plan is regularly updated with a version number. Usually, a new version is just clarifying some of the wording used. There has only been one bug found so far in the running times/paces…which I’m relatively proud of (not the bug…the LACK of bugs 😉 )
    • You will most likely be supplied with MORE sessions each week than you would like to follow. Optional ones are indicated
  6. How is the 5k training plan provided and created?
    • The 5k training plan is provided in a PDF format, by email.
    • The 5k running plan is created on a complicated spreadsheet.
  7. What is the typical ability level?
    • For the 6-week plan, it’s 24 minutes/5k as your current time. The training pace/speeds supplied will be correct.
    • For the 12-week plan, it’s 26 minutes/5k
    • About 80% of athletes requesting a plan are men, typically between 21 and 23 minutes, 10% are faster than that, and 10% are slower.
    • For athletes already under 20 minutes, there was roughly an equal split between men and women in 2019-20.
  8. Will the plan work for any ability level?
    • Probably for those of you wanting to get below 18:00, then this plan is NOT for you.
    • If your current 5k time is over 30:00 then be cautious. Follow the NHS plan linked above.
  9. Can I delay the start date so that the plan coincides with my race
    • Yes
    • I also suggest a couple of generic workouts that lead you up to the start of the plan (12 or 6 weeks). So, if there are 14/15 weeks to go the plan will help you from NOW.
  10. GDPR – Opt-in/Opt-out – I have no desire to hold your data and later use it. However, you MUST consent to give me the info above otherwise I simply can’t produce the plan. Email me when you want the info deleted.
  11. The more info you provide on the form the more insights I might be able to return to you. For unusually interesting people I sometimes spend a considerable amount of time giving a personal response…no charge 😉

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68 thoughts on “5k Training Plan | Sub 19, 20, 21, 24 | running parkrun

  1. One of my freinds recently got your plan and I noticed you are now on version3. The one i had was version 2. what is the difference please

    1. hi Joan. yes I remember your name. hope it worked out well for you. There is a little bit more tailoring to age and sex to refine the model further. it’s just a bit better than the one you have but I don’t think there is any particular need for you to get the new version. the main variable is your current ability level. if that has notably improved…say by more than 30 secs, then it could be worth a new version. your call.

  2. thanks t5k. i got down to 19-25 from 19-45 byt mostly following yoru plan. i may have done that with my current regime in any case. not sure. although i turned to you as my progress was def stalling. so maybe you did help. i was probably training harder before and got injured a couple of times a few years back. you seem to have a bit more time to recover than i had previously. maybe that’s why i’m still fighting for 19-00 (well!!!! 18-59)

    1. Hi bobby. give me the nod again when you get to 19:15 and we’ll crack some more numbers through. I seem to remember you were undertrainined aerobically. I think I gave you a steer that you should do more longer stuff for a while. do that too for a month, maybe then get back.

  3. there is a lot of info in the plan and the instructions are clear. just wanted to say thank you for all the effort that seems to have gone into it. all i have to do now is the training. it looks like i can do those speeds. thanks again.

  4. I’ve sent my info and paid with my wifes name. Can you confirm you received details? Thank you Andrew Jones.

      1. I still haven’t received anything 24 hours plus. Can you help. Thank you

  5. BUG: All versions of the plan prior to v3.750 have a pacing bug. Phase 2, build 2.5/week 2, on day 4 has a pace that is too fast. Either ask for the correct pace or do the stated pace for 40 minutes and not 60 minutes. It is the correct pace for 40 minutes. Thank you Neil for spotting that one.

  6. Thanks as well t5k. My 5k PB had hovered at 19:20 for 2-3 years then managed a 18:40 PB after the custom 6 week plan. Very pleased to recommend it

  7. Brilliant plan thank you, been following it for the past week and I can see what I was doing wrong. I always thought I had to go out fast every session, but now with the slower sessions I feel more fresh for the hard sessions. Thank you looking forward to the test for the 5k.


  8. Hi. Two questions before I buy: How many runs per week does your plan have? And roughly what improvement will it target for a recent 22:00 time?

    1. it’s fairly dynamic and there are IIRC up to 6 personalised runs/week BUT I recommend the ones YOU should do based on several factors. you can ignore my advice and do all of them. but the idea with structured training is to progressively increase the stmulus week on week. indeed doing a variety of activities (eg plyo, weights and run drills) would probably give more of an improvement than just simply ‘running more’

      depending on your age/sex and many other factors, a rule of thumb would be that you could knock of 30 seconds in 6 weeks and a minute over 12 weeks.

      1. Thanks. I typically want to take an off day after any running day, resulting in no more than 4 days a week. Can you do that? Oh and one more thing, are there power targets in the plan too or is it purely pace based? I run with Stryd..

      2. i can provide a personal and fully tailored coaching but that is more expensive.
        as i said above there is at least one day off every week.
        i think i say in the text further above that this is based on pace (as you supply a pace figure) there are also indication of ZONE (fromwhich you can infer RPE or HR or power zones should you have them accurately),. the plan is NOTspecifically targetted towards runnign power.

  9. Wanted to say a big thank you for your 5k plan which worked way better than I could have imagined at getting me 3 PBs in the weeks after my recent 50th birthday. I had reached a plateau with my running after having to take 7 months off for injury so to come back and be better than before was great. The plan was clear and easy to follow and although I am older and less fitter than your likely customers, your plan got me results that I couldn’t get on my own. Thank you so much!!!

  10. I have no idea what your background is in running/racing, but your assessment of me is spot on. You’re VERY right, “my 10k time sucks,” and it’s do to lack of endurance training. My early years were as a middle distance runner (3:49 1500m and 1:49 800m), I never ran under 14:45 in the 5k do to lack of endurance training, but during XC, I had no choice, but to train accordingly, so I was a 2 time All-American at that sport. Mentioning all this because I’m of the opinion, that I can run low 17:00 for 5k and 35:00 for 10k, but really shooting in the dark as far as how to train for it. Hence my search for some training plan to get me there. So if you have something that can help me do that, shoot that to me. Finally, I had taken 18 years off from running, so I’m fairly raw right now, even though I began running 4 years ago, but not really training serious.

    (Edit: Manually added, with permission)

    1. If requesters of a 5k plan **answer all the questions** I can sometimes provide additional feedback along with the plan, especially if you are an unusual case is some way. That’s what I did for Jorge (and hence his comment)

  11. Hi…my time of 5k is 20:00…with your 12 weeks plan Which would be my goal of 5k…I run with a Garmin forerunner 935…your plan is based on HR or with distances?

    1. depends on age and aerobic fitness levels
      lets say 19:25
      based on pace with indication of zones, so you can use hr. i currently have a runnign power version but it is only beta

      1. I made the PayPal payment yesterday but you didnt send me any programm

  12. Hi. Just paid twice on Paypal in error (Sorry)… but instead of refunding that, could I just pay a little more (the extra £4) for the VIP service?



  13. Hi
    I am 1/2 way through my 12 week 5k plan and emailed through my time this morning to the info@ address. I am 10 second behind target, but it’s going very well.
    I wondered if I could upgrade to the VIP package as I had a few questions that I feel will be helpful for me if I could run them past someone? Thank you

    1. sure.
      i’ve given you some reasonably detailed feedback in any case plus likely HR zones. if you want more just whap the vip through paypal.

    1. no, sorry. I can’t quite get the %CP power figures right for the durations I have in the plans. I can do it but it will just take to much time to get exactly right so it’s on a back burner. busy busy.
      the plans do show zones so you could swap hr zones for your power zones.

      1. Yes that should work and I think there’s some rough conversions out there to check if the values are more or less ok. Thanks, after this marathon cycle I’ll look into it.

  14. Are you still making these plans?
    Today I ran a 19:56 5k on GPS (official timing was not available / Park Run cancelled) after 6 weeks of more or less following the default/free sub-20 plan.
    I’m nearly 43, got worried about getting fat/lazy in 2016, age 35, started cycling fairly seriously, quickly progressed and got to British Cycling Cat 2 in 2018. Did a sub-20 10 mile TT on the bike in 2021 and today matched it with a sub-20 5k run.
    Was part of the front group at Ride London last Sunday until I wasn’t (puncture in Wapping within sniffing distance of the finish line).
    Dabbled with running during lockdowns in 2020, did 21 min 5k and 1:43 HM, then let it go as group cycling resumed.
    Took up running again a few weeks ago with the specific aim of doing a sub-20 5k – mostly out of curiosity.
    Basically, can I go sub-19 and still carry on cycling fairly hard/regularly? Or best to focus on one or the other?

  15. Sorry obviously been training a bit too hard to be able to do basic maths. I turned 37 in 2016…

  16. It?¦s actually a cool and useful piece of information. I?¦m glad that you simply shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Thanks for the 12 week plan, just came through overnight.

    All makes sense and I only have one question, which is whether you have a recommended warm-up for 5k attempts / time trials?

    I often don’t give warm ups much thought and am sure this is hurting my time trials/attempts (in addition to weak aerobic base, of course). I couldn’t see comments about this in the program, so any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    1. that should be in the notes?
      but yes. including finishing 10 minutes prior to starting the race.
      it’s not necessarily warming up our muscles but also getting your energy systems cranked up and running

  18. I know the Plan is for sub 21, 20, 19.
    Let’s say I ran sub 18 back in high school and it’s only been like 2 years, and I could probably get back there again.

    Would this plan be for me, or is there a better plan?

    is this a case of “Dude, you know what you’re doing, just do Polar’s 5k plan”?

    Thanks for advice 🙂

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