You don’t need to sign up for a half marathon or marathon to have a worthy target for your running. Sometimes the bigger achievement is trimming some time off a PB, and if you opt for a 5K or 10K race you don’t have to take on the hefty workload that training for three or four months for a marathon involves. If a 5K is your aim, you also have the benefit of being able to do one every week for free by attending your local parkrun.

If you’re looking for a running challenge in 2018, try this: run your local parkrun, then follow this ten-week training plan, created by Saucony UK athlete Ieuan Thomas and his coach James Thie, then tackle that same parkrun again to see how much you’ve improved.

How To Follow This Training Plan

“This plan has been designed without any specific time in mind, so it can be adapted to anyone looking to break their PB, whether that’s 45 minutes or 20 minutes,” says Thomas. “All of these sessions are either exact copies or modifications of ones we will run ourselves during the winter/spring period, so they are tried and tested!

“The plan involves five runs per week, but this can be modified based on your current ability level. If you’re only running twice a week now, think about building in the different types of sessions in the plan alongside your current runs and just go for three times a week – you’ll still see a big benefit. For anyone already running five times a week, add in more easy or steady running between sessions to boost your weekly mileage.”

Types Of Pace Explained

Easy running: Used in long runs, warm-ups, warm-downs and active recovery between higher-intensity reps. Easy running enables you to run more distance without lots of stress on your body. Usually this means “conversational” pace – ie you could still easily maintain a conversation with a running partner.

Steady running: A step up from easy running. Steady runs accumulate distance without placing large stress on your body. Many runs will start at a very easy pace and work towards a steady pace at the end. The duration rather than the intensity of steady running should cause you to feel tired.

Tempo running: Tempo or threshold pace is a harder, prolonged effort. Quite a lot of 5K-specific sessions will be run at threshold tempo, designed to boost your aerobic capacity and lactate threshold, which allows you to run faster for longer.

Race pace: To be able to run a personal best you need to get used to what that pace feels like. Lots of sessions will be around the 5K distance, broken down into smaller chunks that you run at around race pace. This helps the body to make the necessary adaptations to run at this pace for a prolonged period.

10 Week 5K Training Plan For A PB

There are five sessions listed for each week without assigned days, so you can fit them into your weekly schedule, but try to tackle them in the order listed and avoid doing two tough sessions on consecutive days.

Week 1

1. Easy run 30min, plus strength and conditioning.

2. Interval session: 4min, 3min, 2min, 1min, 1min, 2min, 3min, 4min. Jog easy between each rep for the same amount of time that you just ran for, so 4min rep, then 4min jog and so on. Aim to run each rep at hard tempo pace, getting a little faster on the shorter reps.

3. Recovery run 40min, plus strength and conditioning Take your recovery runs very easy if you need to, or pick a pace between easy and steady if you’re feeling fine.

4. Hill session: 4 x 1min, 4 x 30sec uphill sprints with walk down recovery in between reps. The aim here is to build power and maintain high cadence [stride rate].

5. Steady run 50-60min.

Week 2

1. Easy to steady progression run 30-40min. Start at an easy pace and make each mile a little faster, finishing at a steady pace – working hard, but not hitting threshold pace. Plus strength and conditioning.

2. Interval session: 3 x 2 miles with 3min recovery between efforts. Aim to run the efforts at around 5K-10K race pace with each one a little faster. Don’t blow the doors off on the first rep!

3. Recovery run 40min, plus strength and conditioning.

4. Tempo run 20min. Warm up well, then get into a good hard rhythm at just below 5K pace. Work at controlled discomfort.

5. Steady run 50-60min.

Week 3

1. Easy run 30min, plus strength and conditioning.

2. Interval session: 6-8 x 3min 30sec with 90sec recovery jog in between. Run at, or even slightly quicker than, 5K target pace. Then slow to a steady pace for the jog – it shouldn’t be a really easy recovery, you need to keep moving at a decent pace.

3. Recovery run 40min, plus strength and conditioning.

4. Track interval session: 8-10 x 400m with 90sec recovery. Aim to run these quicker than race pace. This is all about leg turnover and sticking to your target speed throughout – you’ll need it to run that PB!

5. Steady run 55-65min.

Week 4

1. Easy run 35min, plus strength and conditioning.

2. Interval session: 5-6 x 1 mile with 2min recovery. This is a perfect race pace session. Make sure the first couple of reps aren’t crazy – it doesn’t matter if they’re just slower than race pace, you’ll make it up at the end.

3. Recovery run 40min, plus strength and conditioning.

4. Hill session: 10 x 75sec uphill efforts with jog back down recovery. Don’t make these flat-out efforts but you should be in a tough tempo zone. Don’t expect to be fully recovered at the bottom – you should aim to run back down in 1min 45sec and then go again.

5. Steady run 55-65min.

Week 5

1. Easy to steady progression run 40-45min. Start at an easy pace and make each mile a little faster, finishing at a steady pace – working hard, but not hitting threshold pace. Plus strength and conditioning.

2. Rest.

3. Recovery run 40min, plus strength and conditioning.

4. Interval session: 5-6 x 800m, with 90sec recovery. Work hard in your threshold zone and finish strong, but don’t bury yourself.

5. Steady run 60-70min.

Week 6

1. Easy run 45min, plus strength and conditioning.

2. Interval session: 2 x 3km with 3min rest in between. Aim to hit your expected race pace.

3. Recovery run 45min, plus strength and conditioning.

4. Interval session: 3 x 3min, 4 x 2min, 5 x 1min. Recovery is the same as the last rep, so 3min rep, 3min recovery and so on. Start at race pace and try and get a little faster as the reps go on. Keep the recoveries steady. The 3min reps will feel easy, but don’t underestimate how the session will bite at the end.

5. Steady run 60-70min.

Week 7

1. Easy run 50min, plus strength and conditioning.

2. Interval session: 3 x 2 miles with 2min recovery. Back to the same session from week two. Can you run the reps a little quicker with 1min less recovery?

3. Recovery run 50min, plus strength and conditioning.

4. Tempo run 30min. Warm up well, then work at controlled discomfort at just below 5K pace.

5. Steady run 60-75min.

Week 8

1. Easy to steady progression run 50min. Start at an easy pace and make each mile a little faster, finishing at a steady pace – working hard, but not hitting threshold pace. Plus strength and conditioning.

2. Rest.

3. Recovery run 50min, plus strength and conditioning.

4. Interval session: 5-6 x 800m with 1min recovery.

5. Steady run 60-75min.

Week 9

1. Easy run 45min.

2. Interval session: 6-8 x 1km, with 1min recovery. Hit your race pace and see if you can make the last few reps a little quicker.

3. Recovery run 45min, plus strength and conditioning.

4. Rest.

5. Steady run 50-60min.

Week 10

By now you should know what works for you – don’t change it this week! If you’re not used to running two days in a row, this week is not the week to start, no matter what anybody else is doing.

1. Easy run 45min, plus strength and conditioning.

2. Race prep interval session: 3 x 1km at race pace with 1 minute recovery, followed by 3 x 100m strides – accelerate up to 80-90% of your top speed over the first quarter of the 100m sprint, hold that pace for the next two quarters, then decelerate over the final quarter. Walk back to the start between each stride for recovery.

3. Rest.

4. Easy run 30min.

5. Race day: go get that PB!

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