Then this is for you.
Running a 5K within 25 minutes is a fantastic benchmark to hit in your running career. It’s also a common goal among beginner and recreational runners, especially those who have a few races under their belt.
All that said, I don’t think that anyone can just walk out of the door and run a 25-minute 5K. In fact, expect to invest some decent amount of training into to make this goal a reality.
In this article, I’m going to share with you exactly what you need to do, whether you’re a beginner or have been around the running block for a while.
The Pace Required
A 5K race is about 3.1 miles. So logging all these miles in 25 minutes (or faster) will mean running at a pace of roughly eight minutes per mile, or five minutes per kilometer (for those of you who use the metric system).
Well, if you run precisely 8:00 minutes per mile, you’ll be dead on that 25 minutes mark.
This may sound overwhelming to you right now, but with the right training approach and mindset, you’ll be on your way to making it a reality.
Before you set a goal of running a 25-minute 5K, there are a few things to consider.
Ask yourself the following questions.
- What’s your running background? The plan below is for runners who have been around the running block for at least six months and have logged in at least 15 to 25 miles a week over the last few weeks.
- Are your running shoes holding you back? All runners, whether a beginner or professional should seek advice and get properly fitted footwear based on their biomechanical needs. Assessments are usually free and discounts are offered to running club members.
- What’s your current 5k time? If your time is currently 33 minutes or above, then you should consider taking more weeks to train in order to get this down to 25 minutes or less.
- Do you have any injuries? Having an injury—or recovering from one—may put a dent in not only your training but also risk re-injury. And you don’t want that. Make sure to get a proper biomechanical assessment or gait analysis from a professional first.
- Are you motivated? If you don’t have the willingness and drive to head out the door regularly and do the work, then you’re better off not shooting for a 25-minute 5K.
The Strategies You Need
To run improve 5K time, you’ll need to include various types of sessions in your training program. Keep on reading to learn more.
Know Where You Are
The first step toward running a 25-min 5K—or any other race—is to start with a baseline. This way, you can figure how fast you’re right now, and much faster you’ll need to run to achieve this target.
That’s where the time trial comes into the picture.
Start by a thorough 10-minute warm-up. Jog for a few minutes to raise your heart rate and body temperature, then perform a series of dynamic movements to get your body ready for intense training.
Next, run a mile as fast as possible and record your time. Then multiply by 3.1 to estimate your ideal 5K time. Just remember that you might not be able to keep the fast pace over three miles. But this is a good starting point nonetheless.
What if you’re really lagging?
Then don’t lose hope. This doesn’t mean that it’s out of reach for you. Give yourself plenty of time toachieve this goal. I’d recommend that you go after smaller—less challenging—goals that help you increase your stamina and speed.
Have already a few 5K races under your best? Then you can simply estimate how much faster you’ll need to run in order to hit that 25 minutes mark.
Now let’s look at how you can actually bring your speed and endurance up to the challenge.
Do Interval Training
The best way to increase your running speed is to actually spend time doing some speedwork. That’s where interval training comes into the picture.
Basically, interval training consists of running fast for a short time then taking a break to recover before sprinting hard again.
When it comes to 5K training, the ideal interval routine consists of a burst of running at your goal 5K pace—or a little bit faster—with recovery bouts in between.
A classic 5K interval workout may consist of running four 400-meter laps with recovery jogs in between. As you get fitter, increase the number as well as the speed of the intervals.
- Week One – 4 X 400m at 5k pace.
- Week Two – 4 X 400m at 5k pace.
- Week Three – 5 X 400m at 5k pace.
- Week Four – 5 X 400m at 5k pace or slightly faster.
- Week Five – 6 X 400m at 5k pace.
The goal is to keep challenging yourself but without doing too much too soon.
Do A Tempo Run
Another way to improve your speed and endurance is to do tempo training.
Also known as threshold training, tempo runs consist of extended efforts of running at around 20 to 30 seconds per mile slower than your current 5K pace—about 80 to 85 percent of your max heart rate.
As a rule, the pace should feel comfortably hard but still purely aerobic. Your breathing should be slightly labored, but you shouldn’t be gasping for air on every step.
Here’s how to do them.
Start with a proper warm-up, then run at your tempo pace for 20 to 30 minutes. Aim to keep a steady pace the entire time with minimal changes in speed. Do not fluctuate.
Last up, cool down with an easy one mile jog.
Do Your Long Runs
A 5K isn’t just about speed—your endurance also matters, so improving your stamina is a must. That’s why a long run is a must in any 5K training plan—regardless of the goal time.
The long run is basically the longest session of the week. It’s key because it builds the aerobic capacity and stamina needed for covering the race distance.
Ideally, your long run should be around 5 to 8 miles. Remember to run according to your fitness ability and experience. Long runs should be easy and conversational. Don’t try to follow someone’s else training plan to the letter. Everyone is different.
I’d recommend a pace of roughly 10 to 12 minutes per mile
Again, the way to build your long runs is slow and steady. Start with a basic number on week one, then follow the 10 percent rule to gradually build your mileage over the upcoming weeks.
Most 5K races are roughly 8 to 12 weeks long—depending on your starting point and race goal. In other words, expect to invest a few weeks if you want to see any form of progress. Training for a couple of weeks won’t do the trick.
The ideal training plan should include three to four sessions per week: one interval workout, one tempo session, one long run, and one or two recovery workouts. Feel free to either cross-train or rest on your non-running days. Enough said.
Here’s how your weekly training plan should look like.
- Monday – Interval Session – 5 X 400-meter at goal 5K pace
- Tuesday – 30 minutes recovery run
- Wednesday – Cross train or rest
- Thursday – 20-minute tempo run
- Friday—Rest or 20-minute recovery run
- Saturday – Long run of five to eight miles
- Sunday – Rest
And that’s all. The rest is up to you.