This eight-week plan is designed for runners who want to finish a 5K in 30 minutes, or an average pace of 9:39 per mile. It features four days of running per week, including easy runs, interval runs, and tempo runs, plus long runs of four to seven miles. Weekly mileage starts at 13 miles per week and peaks at 20 miles per week two 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: 11:58/mile)
Run at your relaxed pace today, or cross-train on a bike or an elliptical trainer. You may feel like the prescribed pace is too easy. But the key is to take the easy runs easy so you can build your fitness without getting injured. (Pace: 11:58/mile)
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. (Pace: 11:58/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. If you feel like taking short walk breaks, that's okay. The goal is to stay on your feet for a given distance. (Pace: 11:58/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: 11:58/mile)
As much as possible, try to incorporate hills into the early stages of your training. Hills build leg and lung power. You won't feel fast going up hills, but you'll feel strong. Pick a variety of short and long hills to keep your mind and muscles engaged. Just focus on sustaining an even, steady effort. (Pace: 11:58/mile)
As your training gets underway, 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: 11:58/mile)