This eight-week plan is designed for runners who want to finish a 5K in 20 minutes, or an average pace of 6:26 per mile. It features five days of running per week, including easy runs, tempo runs, intervals, plus long runs of 10 to 12 miles. Weekly mileage starts at 30 miles per week and peaks at 40 miles per week a few weeks before the race. Paces for each workout are prescribed.
When you head out today, focus on maintaining a comfortable, conversational rhythm. These easy days are meant to strengthen muscles, build endurance, and burn fat, but the key is to keep the effort conservative so you're not worn out for the hard workouts ahead. You want to finish each run feeling like you have the energy to run longer. (Pace: 8:15/mile)
2-mile warmup 3 miles at tempo pace (6:53/mile) 1-mile cooldown Today you'll do a tempo run. After a one-mile warmup, run two miles at your tempo pace (6:53/mile), then cool down with one mile of easy running. Your tempo pace should feel hard but controlled. You won't be able to talk comfortably at your tempo pace, but it should not feel as if you're racing.
On easy days, cross-training should involve a sustained aerobic effort with an activity like cycling or using an elliptical trainer, for the same amount of time you'd spend on the day's mileage. If you plan to incorporate cross-training into your preparation and want to try a new activity, be sure to do it in this early base-building stage of training. In the weeks before the race, you'll want to avoid trying new activities because of the risk of injury so close to your goal event. Run 3 miles easy today. (Pace: 8:15/mile)
As your training gets under way, invest in shirts, shorts, pants, underwear, jog bras, and socks that are made of technical, lightweight fabrics that wick away moisture. These fabrics, which go by names like Dri-Fit and CoolMax, help prevent blisters and chafing. (Pace: 8:15/mile)
Sundays will be reserved for long, slow distance (LSD) runs to build your endurance. Long runs improve aerobic capacity, develop your strength, and get you accustomed to spending a longer time on your feet. Don't worry too much about your pace on long runs; just focus on the distance you want to cover for the day. (Pace: 8:15/mile)
If you're an early morning runner, be sure to prep for your run the night before. Set your automatic coffeemaker to brew before you wake. Turn off the computer and TV at least 30 minutes before you hit the sack. And be sure to eat well: Have slow-digesting carbs like broccoli, beans, and lentils. If you skip dinner or eat fast-digesting carbs like rice, bread, or sugary desserts, your glycogen levels will be depleted, making it even harder to muster the energy to get up in the morning. (Pace: 8:15/mile)
1-mile warmup 4 miles at tempo pace (6:53/mile) 1-mile cooldown Warm up with one mile of easy running, then run at your tempo pace for four miles. Cool down with one mile of easy running.