Follow us on Twitter

Facebook Likes

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.



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.
RunnersConnect Master Extra

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

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:



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.