Hal Higdon: 5-K: Intermediate: This Intermediate 5-K Training Plan is designed for experienced runners, who have run 5-K races before and want to improve their time by adding more mileage and introducing some speedwork into their training mix. If you are a beginning runner, who has only started to run recently, you might want to consider using my Novice 5-K program instead. If you are a seasoned runner who is used to running a lot of miles at fast speeds, take a look at the Advanced 5-K program before clicking on the Purchase button. When you do, you will begin to receive daily email messages from me telling you what to run and also offering training tips. For more information and directions, visit: halhigdon.com.
In deciding which of my training programs to use, consider the season. 5-K Intermediate would particularly be effective in the spring or summer as a prelude to an 12-week or 18-week endurance-based program leading to a fall full or half marathon. Speedwork can most be accomplished when the weather is warm or mild. Whatever program you choose, I can help you run faster. Consider also purchasing a copy of my book, Run Fast, available online or in most major book stores.
Run 3 miles today. This will be your standard workout for all but the final week of your 8-week 5-K training program. Although this seems like a throwaway workout, one that seemingly will do little to condition yourself, take it seriously. Generally, I recommend that runners do these midweek, easy runs at a conversational pace, meaning you should be able to conduct a conversation with a training partner without getting unduly out of breath.
Today is your day for interval training, as you prepare for the 5-K. (In interval training, you first run a set distance hard, then jog or walk at an easy pace for another set distance to recover. (The workout gets its name because you control the interval between each hard run.) Interval training is best done on a track. Run 5 x 400 meters at about the pace you would run 1500 meters, or a mile. (If you run a mile in 8 minutes your 400 time would be 2 minutes. Jog or walk 400 meters between each fast repeat to recover.
As on Tuesdays, you will do a 3-mile run on Thursdays for all but the final week of your training program. Use this second 3-miler as a balance to the rest of your week's training. If you still feel strong after yesterday's speed workout, you can run at a somewhat faster pace than you may have run on Tuesday. Please note that in suggesting the time it takes you to run 3 miles, I assumed you average 9:00 pace per mile. If you run faster or than that, please adjust your training plan accordingly.
This is the third day of the week that you are being asked to do a 3-mile run. If that seems repetitious, look at the full schedule and you'll realize that during the following weeks you will run increasingly harder workouts on this day, increasing alternately the length of your Saturday runs and the speed at which you run them.
Today you run long. While 5 miles may not seem long by marathon standards, you are training for a 5-K race, not a 42.2-K race. Don't worry about how fast you run. Simply pick a scenic course and enjoy the workout.
The Tuesday workouts will not change. Run 3 miles. This is one of the bookends around your speed workouts on Wednesday. When the schedule says run, that suggests that you run at an easy pace. How fast is easy? You need to define your own comfort level. Don't worry about how fast you run; just cover the distance suggested--or approximately the distance suggested.
Every other week on even-numbered weeks, you will do a tempo run. We start today with 30 minutes. In subsequent weeks, you will increase the time (and length) of your tempo run from 35 to 40 minutes, before dropping back to 30 minutes in the final week while tapering for the race. Here's how to do a tempo run. Run for a half hour, building up to near 10-K pace near the middle of your workout. You won't be able to hold this pace long, so think of this workout as a gradual acceleration to a peak followed by a gradual deceleration.