The Cutting-Edge Runner 5K Training Plan, Level 4, is recommended for runners who want to complete a successful 5K race in 9 to 12 weeks and whose current fitness level allows them to run about 4 times per week, 30 to 35 minutes per run.
The first 3 weeks of the plan are optional, making it adjustable from 9 to 12 weeks. If you choose to do fewer than 12 weeks of the plan, it is hoped that your recent training has been similar to the first 1-3 weeks of this plan.
The workout schedule includes 4 runs per week, plus 2 optional strength workouts per week. It begins with a weekly total of 1 hour and 45 minutes of running and builds up to 3 hours and 13 minutes.
All of the running workouts are based on the Cutting-Edge Runner Pace Zone Index (PZI), which allows you to do every step of every workout at precisely the right effort level for you. Learn more about the PZI system here: https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/using-pace-zone-index-pzi/ The PZI table that you will use to determine your zones based on a race race or time-trial performance is attached to the first workout in the plan itself.
Key workouts in this plan include the following:
Foundation Runs: Steady, 30-55-minute runs mainly at Moderate Aerobic pace (Pace Zone 3)
Foundation Runs + Strides: Foundation Runs followed by 4-6 30-second bursts at Speed pace (Pace Zone 10)
Long Runs: Steady runs of 1:00 to 1:05 done mainly at Moderate Aerobic pace
Fartlek Runs: Foundation-type runs including 30-second bursts at VO2max pace (Pace Zone 8)
Short Intervals (1): Runs featuring 30- to 60-second intervals at VO2max pace separated by jogging recoveries at Low Aerobic pace (Pace Zone 2)
Weeks 4, 7, and 10 of the plan are recovery weeks. Training is slightly reduced in these weeks to afford an opportunity to absorb recent training and prepare for more challenging training to follow. Week 12 – race week – is a taper week, meaning training tapers down during the week to ensure you’re rested and ready to perform on race day.