5k Run Training Program for Intermediate Runners

Prerequisite: The ability to run at least 3 miles, or about 30 minutes without stopping, four times per week. If you would like to run a 5k race, but are not yet at this level of running, try the 5k Run Training Program For Beginning Runners.

Training Program Goal

The goal of this training program is to incorporate speed training into your weekly running, as well as increase your long run to 6 miles. Increasing the long run to 6 miles will give the runner a higher level of cardiovascular fitness and make the race distance feel more comfortable. The speed work sessions are designed to increase the lactate threshold and help the runner become accustomed to running at a faster pace for an extended period of time. This is the training program for runners who have run a few local 5k races and would like to begin doing some basic speed work to improve race times.

Speed Training Sessions

All speed training sessions listed on the second training day of each week should begin and end with a 1/2 mile to a 1 mile jog. For example, if the training for today is a 3 mile fartlek run, start with a 1/2 mile warm-up, do the fartlek workout, and finish with a 1/2 mile cool down jog. The warm up jog will warm up your muscles and prepare you for the more difficult workout to come, while the cool down jog will lower your heart rate and get blood flowing out of your legs.

Fartlek Runs

Fartlek training is a great way for runners who have never done speed training to begin running for speed. Simply pick an object in the distance and run faster until you reach that object. Once you reach your chosen object, slow down for an easy jog. Repeat this as many times as you can during the prescribed distance, selecting objects of varying distances and running at a variety of paces. These workouts should fun, but not too taxing.

Additional fartlek training information:

Run Fast: Fartlek Training for Running Speed

Hill Repeats

Hill repeats are designed to increase leg strength. Simply select a hill that gradually climbs for the required distance of the repeat and run hard up the hill. Then turn around and jog slowly back down the hill for recovery. Repeat as required by the training schedule.

Additional hill repeat information:

Run Fast: Hill Repeats for Increased Leg Strength

Tempo Runs

Tempo training, or lactate threshold training, is designed to stress the body’s ability to clear lactate accumulation from the blood. If running all out is considered a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, a tempo run should be a comfortably hard run at about an 8. This hard pace should be maintained for 15 to 20 minutes.

Additional tempo running information:

Run Fast: Tempo Training for Increased Running Stamina

Long Runs

One day of the week is designated as the long run workout. There are no pace requirements for this workout, only that the mileage be completed. Increasing the maximum distance run begins a process of physiologic changes to muscles that help runners run faster. Muscle fibers grow more capillaries and the body increases and enlarges muscle mitochondria to more efficiently convert oxygen and glycogen to fuel.

Additional long run information:

Run Fast: Use Long Runs In Your Training Program For Faster Running

5k Run Training Program For Intermediate Runners

Day 1 Day 2                 Day 3 Day 4
Week 1 3 miles 3 mile Fartlek 3 miles 3 miles
Week 2 3 miles 2 x 1/4 Hills    3 miles 4 miles
Week 3 3 miles 3 mile Fartlek 3 miles 3 miles
Week 4 3 miles 4 x 1/4 Hills    3 miles 5 miles
Week 5 3 miles 3 mile Fartlek 3 miles 4 miles
Week 6 3 miles 2 mile Tempo 3 miles 6 miles
Week 7 3 miles 3 mile Fartlek 3 miles 4 miles
Week 8 2 miles 2 miles               0 miles Race
Disclaimer: Before beginning any new exercise program, check with your doctor.