How to Train for a Faster 5k

Hey everyone,

Yesterday kicked off the 5 by the 5th series! Do you have a goal for your 5ks or 5 milers? I know there is a whole range of abilities joining the challenge… some of you are happy just to get out the door, while others have aggressive time goals.

I asked Tina from Fuel Your Future to share tips for 5k training.  If you don’t know her, Tina is a fantastic elite runner, super down to earth, friendly (and humble) running blogger, and writes all sorts of helpful posts for running as well as recipes including a meatless Monday link up.  Thanks, Tina… take it away!


I am so honored to be a guest writer for Laura’s blog. She is one super mom, who gives me hope that someday when I have kids, I can keep running, inspire others, and of course carve out lots of time with my little ones. People say they admire me because of my performances as a runner, but I admire those of you who are able to keep that passion for the sport stay alive, even off no sleep and your own personal well-being no longer being the priority in life!

Laura asked me to share a post on how to train for a 5k. At the time, I thought “easy, piece of cake”, but it was only when I actually sat down to write this, that I realized I had forgotten what 5k training involved. I am a marathoner now, and even though I spent most of my life training for the 5k distance, and I have only run 2 marathons, it took me a while to jog my memory as to what that involves!

If you have been reading Laura’s blog for any amount of time, you will know the basics about how to train; keeping your easy runs easy, running a few workouts a week, and some strength training to supplement, but how about I give you a peek into the world of my workouts when I was training for the 5k.5 Workouts for a Faster 5k


Here are 5 workouts I did in college. Some of them may seem intimidating, but they are not as scary as they seem!

25-30 minutes of hills

You may wonder why you would need to do hills, especially if the course you are racing on is flat, but hills build power, and you need a lot of that to get around a 5k course. This involves finding a run that is full of lots of ups and downs, or finding one hill, and varying the distance you run up and down. Make sure you take the downhills very easy though! I liked to do this on dirt roads to lessen the impact.

5 mile tempo run

This was always one of the first workouts I would do for 5k training. It may seem a bit too long, but it builds strength, and gets your body used to getting in a rhythm and holding it. If you go out too fast, you will pay for it, and the same can be said for the 5k.

4-5 x 1 mile with 2-3 minutes recovery

This was always one of the toughest workouts of the year for me, but it makes you incredibly strong. I would usually try to run my desired 5k pace for the last 2 repeats, meaning that you have to be smart about the first few repeats….or you will not make it to the last 2, let alone run them as your fastest repeats! This is also a great mental building workout. You feel so tough after completing this.

½ mile x 6 with 5 minutes recovery

I hated this one, but it was so important. These workouts are TOUGH as they are fast, but they really get the speed in your legs that allow you to finish the race strong. They are also good for learning to go hard, but then composing yourself and refocusing, which you will need to do in a 5k race.

¼ mile x 16 with 1.5 minutes recovery

This one is not as scary as it sounds. This was actually one of my favorite workouts as after a few, you just get in a rhythm and go. I would run these slightly faster than race pace, and maintain throughout. You will find that you feel tired after about 4-5, but you feel the same amount of tired after 14. Your body just adjusts to the effort.

Hopefully this gives you a little peak into the world of how I accomplished my 16:08, and these workouts can be adapted to any speed. These are not super workouts that only elites can handle, you can too, just make sure you have adjusted the pace to match you!

Thanks so much, Tina!

What are some of your favorite speed workouts?

Do you have a goal for your final 5k in this series?

39 thoughts on “How to Train for a Faster 5k

  1. I agree that I am so impressed by those who can juggle training and a family- so inspiring!
    Thanks for sharing, Tina! I have never trained specifically for a 5k, so this is really helpful. Those workouts sound tough but I would imagine they would be highly beneficial!
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted..A Look Back At January 2015My Profile

  2. Thanks for sharing your workouts. Are you walking for your recovery or doing an easy run? thanks!

  3. What exactly is a tempo run? I’ve seen my friend post his tempo and it looks like he keeps every mile the same pace yet when I google it I see a slow start with a build up in the middle and then a coast to the end. Any advice?

    • Hey Laura!
      The tempo portion of your run would be run at the same pace, usually it’s the pace you could hold for 60 minutes at hard effort (or between your 10k – half marathon pace) and you run anywhere from 2-6 miles at that pace (maybe more for marathon training. But yes, you would want to do a warm up and cool down of 10-15 minutes at an easy pace as well. Hope that helps!
      Laura recently posted..How to Train for a Faster 5kMy Profile

  4. THANK YOU SO MUCH for this post!! I am thrilled to see if b/c setting a PR in the 5K is my only goal of this year. So I am definitely looking for doable workouts to accomplish that. Tina sounds amazing – thanks for the tips!
    runner26 recently posted..Adding Some Speed and SpiceMy Profile

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