Training and racing for 5k

Training and racing for 5k

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Training and Racing for 5K – The Basics


Running a 5k race is on everybody’s schedule now and then. Training in order to just finish the race without walking through parts of it, or preparing in order to beat your PB are two different worlds in terms of approach. There are some common ground rules, however. So, whether if you are a strong runner trying to develop on this distance, or someone who’s just entered the running world, here are some words of wisdom.

First some basics; these three workouts need to be done every week:

  1. Long Run – best done on the weekends – 45-90 min easy running
  2. Hard run – fartleks, tempo runs, hill runs, interval runs – during the week
  3. Easy run – easy, loose running, from 15-60 min, any day

Remember, be consistent and do NOT avoid these three types of workouts.

Now the details:

  1. The long run – any running plan depends on it. Without easily doing the long run you will not be prepared adequately. This is where your running and breathing muscles are developed. The capillarization process will make you stronger and more efficient.
  • The long run for a 5 km race is anywhere between 45 - 90 min very easy running. For beginners it can be a mixture between walking and running, lasting 45 min (3x10 min of easy running with 5 min of walking in between)
  • The long run should be relaxed and easy-going and can be done on any kind of surface


  1. The hard run – you do it this way:

Warm up – 10 -20 min of easy running, then do 4x100 m of accelerations (start slowly and finish with submaximal effort, walk back to starting position)


Main part of workout – 12- or 21-min fartlek run (1 min easy running, 1 min medium pace running and 1 min fast pace running) – if wonder about the speed, and what the medium and fast pace means, I will clarify that at the end of this blog entry.


Cool Down – 5 min easy running, 5 min walking


  1. Easy running – as I said above, easy and loose running, anywhere between 15 – 60 min, looking like this:

Warm up – 10 min of walking


Main part – 3 x 10 min of easy running with 1-2 min of walking in between


Cool down – 5-10 min of walking


Anybody can follow this kind of plan. For better results buy a training plan, or for much better results hire a coach, you can hire a coach online, or you can work with a coach one on one (personal training). You can also join a running club, of course.


In order to beet your PB, or if you are a stronger runner, I advise you to use the above mentioned program and then add some more to the weekly training. Here is an example:

  1. Long Run - 75-90 min
  2. Hard run – interval running like 10x400m (hard), with 400 m easy jogging in between.
  3. Easy short run – 40 min easy run
  4. Hard run – hill running like 12x200m hill repetitions, going back downhill you walk 50 m then you start easy running.
  5. Long run number two – 60-75 min easy running


Again, for best results you need to be consistent and and perhaps follow a good training plan or hire a coach.


Racing in a 5K race is very simple but one needs to be really disciplined in pacing. A lot of people (good and bad athletes) tend to start too fast in this race. I always advise my athletes to take their time and to start slowly. Naturally, there are differences between running a marathon and a 5K race, but always start calm, and then build up your pace slowly. In a 5K race, after 400 – 500 m you will be running your hard, but sustainable pace. Try to finish the last 400 – 500 m with all you’ve got. If you are a speedy runner and you know that you can outsprint someone, then wait for the last 200 – 100 m.

Clothing for such an event, regardless of the temperature, is always the same: short running pants and short or even sleeveless running jersey. If it is very cold, then use your ¾ running thighs, running gloves and a light head cover like Buff.


Before the race, eat light meals with carbohydrates, max. until two hours before the event. Drink some water occasionally, but don’t overdue with it.


Now I’m going to explain the three basic pacing speeds and how to know how fast you need to run. My advice is always very simple and low on details, as I think that you should develop a feeling for how to train and race. It is NOT necessary to do the pacing with watch or similar gadget.




Running load:

Easy pace: Easy, sustainable pace with NO heavy breathing, you need to have the feeling that you can run like this for a long period of time, like 2-3 hours.

Medium pace: You will know start to feel your breath, and you will definitely breath a bit harder. Harder breathing, sweating and a feeling that your legs are doing harder are the common sensations of this pace. This pace is harder, but you can sustain it, or you need to feel that you can sustain it, for longer periods, like 30 or 60min.

Hard pace: You are breathing heavily, sweating and your whole body is starting to hurt. You can sustain this tempo for a short period of time, like 5-15 min or less. Your effort level is pretty high and you are feeling very uncomfortable holding this pace.


For further explanations please contact me directly.




Vlad a.k.a. coachzic