RW Intermediate 5K Plan (8 weeks)

Training Load By Week
Training Load By Week

This plan is geared for someone who regularly runs four to five times per week; who runs total weekly mileage of at least 13 miles and a long run of at least four miles; and who has finished a 5K race and wants to finish faster. Unless otherwise noted, all runs should be done at an easy pace. This plan was developed by the experts at Runner's World.

Sample Day 1
2mi
2 Miles Easy

Welcome to the Runner's World 5K plan for intermediate runners. This plan is geared for someone who regularly runs four to five times per week; who runs total weekly mileage of at least 13 miles and a long run of at least 4 miles; and who has finished a 5K race and wants to finish faster. Unless otherwise noted, all runs should be done at an easy pace. This plan was designed by coach and exercise physiologist Janet Hamilton, owner of Running Strong (runningstrong.com), in conjunction with the experts at Runner's World. Each week you'll have four days of running, two days of optional cross-training, and one day reserved for rest. Your weekly schedule will include a long run that starts at five miles and peaks at eight miles in the sixth week of training. The program also includes hill workouts to build leg and lung strength, and loosely structured fartlek workouts to build speed. Your training plan starts today with 2 miles of easy running.

Sample Day 2
3.5mi
3.5 Miles Hills

Run 3.5 miles today, and try to incorporate as many hills as you can. Don't worry too much about the length or grade of the hills. Just get a variety of inclines and descents. Hills help you boost your leg and lung power. Run the hills with a steady level of effort. On the way up, focus on trying to maintain the same level of effort--the same rate of breathing and rate of leg turnover--as you do on level ground. On the downhills, think 'light, quick steps.' Don't let your feet slap the pavement, and don't brake with your legs.

Sample Day 4
3.5mi
3.5 Miles Easy

Run 3.5 miles at your easy pace today. Many people make the mistake of going out too fast and running out of energy--or getting hurt--before they go the distance for the day. To avoid that, try to get into the habit of starting slowly, with the idea that you'll finish feeling strong and energetic enough to go longer.

Sample Day 6
5mi
5 Miles Easy

Run 5 miles today at your easy pace. Since you're spending more time on your feet than you typically do, be sure to start slowly, with the idea that you're going to finish the distance for the day feeling strong.

Sample Day 8
2mi
2 Miles Easy

Welcome to week 2 of training. Your runs will follow a similar pattern to last week, but you'll extend your hill and long runs. You'll also have your first fast workout--loosely structured speedwork called fartlek, which is Swedish for speedplay. (The concept originated in Sweden.) You can do this workout on a road, a treadmill, or any flat, traffic-free stretch of road. Today, run 2 miles easy.

Sample Day 9
4mi
4 Miles Hills

Run 4 miles and incorporate as many hills as you can. Don't worry too much about the length or grade of the hills. Just get a variety of inclines and descents. Hills help boost your leg and lung power. On the way up, focus on trying to maintain the same level of effort--the same rate of breathing and rate of leg turnover--as you do on level ground. On the downhills, think 'light, quick feet.' Don't let your feet slap the pavement, and don't brake with your legs.

Sample Day 11
4mi
4 Miles Fartlek

Today is your first speed session. You'll cover 4 miles total. That includes: 1-mile warmup 2 miles (alternate between 1 minute at race pace and 3 minutes of easy running) 1-mile cooldown Warm up with 1 mile of easy running. Then alternate between 1 minute of running at a pace that feels like your 5K pace, and recovering with 3 minutes of easy running. Repeat this cycle until you cover 2 miles. Cool down with 1 mile of easy running. You want to fully recover after the 1-minute bout of hard running before you start the next hard effort. At the end of the workout, you should feel invigorated, not demolished. As you get fitter and feel more ambitious, you might increase the bouts of hard work to 2 minutes at race pace, and reduce the recovery segments to 2 minutes.