Finishing a 5K in itself is a great achievement, but I know that for many running a 5K in 30 minutes or less is a big goal.
It’s a big like that Sub Two hour half marathon…this marker that we set for ourselves as a marker of progress and that moment of being a “real runner”.
Now, you know my stance that we are a runner the moment we decide to run for ourselves, but I love a good goal. Finding that place of being comfortable running a 5K without walking, improving your fitness and feeling strong at the finish.
This is a challenging yet doable goal. It’s an ideal goal for those who have been doing run/walk consistently and building their endurance for more than the last few weeks.
I want that “I did it” feeling for you, so here are some of my top tips and a training plan for a 30 minute 5K.
How To Run A 5K In 30 Minutes
The race pace you need to hit is 9:39 per mile.
Since we don’t want to just miss our goal by a few seconds, let’s say our goal is actually 9:30-9:35.
#1 Use a Plan
This sounds so basic, but it’s one of the most overlooked things! Stop jumping from idea to idea, instead pick a plan and stick to it.
Each plan is designed to build on previous weeks, which will help you to get stronger and to take recovery weeks as needed.
If you are brand new to running, checkout my Couch to 5K training plan or the specific plan listed below.
#2 Don’t Over Train
Now that you know your goal race pace is around 9:30 that does NOT mean you should start trying to run all of your workouts at that pace. It will 100% lead to injury.
- Keep 80% of your workouts at an easy pace – that could be 90 seconds to 2 minutes slower than race pace
- Do the speed workouts listed in your plan
- TAKE THE REST DAYS – truly this is when your body catches up to the work you’ve done and gets both stronger and faster
#3 Strength Train
5K’s are about power and not just endurance.
We need to strength train for any distance to prevent injuries, but you’ll find additional benefits at the 5K level from putting in time lifting heavy and doing some plyometric exercises.
- Checkout the 30 Day Core Program for an easy way to get started
- Try adding jump squats or speed skaters to your warm up on speed work days
- Lift heavy at least once a week with squats, deadlifts, etc — that’s maxing out at 5-8 reps
#4 Increase Your Mileage
One of the things that can help many runners hit a new PR is to increase weekly mileage.
Follow the 10% mileage increase rule and don’t simply jump up right away to avoid injury.
By slowly adding in a few more miles each week, you are teaching your body to become more efficient. This means that you’ll be able to run faster with less effort over time.
You’ll see in this plan that we are working to run farther than 3.1 miles consistently. If you’re not yet at that place, try slowly increasing your mileage before jumping in to this plan or adjust the mileage down some to meet you where you are.
5K In 30 Minutes Training Plan
Here is an 8 week training plan you can access and customize for yourself.
Use this as a starting point by creating a copy of the spreadsheet. Then you can make adjustments on your own sheet and most importantly TRACK your workouts!!
Important notes about this 5K plan. You’ll find comments in the final column of the spreadsheet, but a few more details.
- 4 runs – you can drop the Sunday run to a walk or a hike or a bike. Just good to move on tired legs that day.
- 2 full body strength sessions – if you are doing more, get after it!! Just make sure you can hit your speed and long runs.
- Yoga and mobility aren’t specifically listed for the most part, but always a great addition
- Rest days are on Monday as I’ve found this actually works great for many athletes, but if you need to shift the week for your life then do so. Just don’t put hard days close together.
As noted, this plan is only 8 weeks. This is the point where you are fine tuning your speed and endurance to hit that Sub 30 minute 5K.
Prior to starting the plan, you should be running at least 3 days per week, with 4-5 miles feeling like a doable distance.
We know that if you are able to run farther than the 5K it becomes much easier to start cutting down your time. Partially because mentally you start feeling like it’s such an easy distance for you.
One of the keys to great training is learning how to go easy and go hard.
If all of your runs are at the same pace, you’re likely training in a grey zone. Meaning you aren’t getting the aerobic benefit of an easy run or the power from a hard run, thus it’s just burning you out.
- Can you carry on a conversation while running?
- If solo could you sing a song?
- Read more about using RPE in running to better learn to run on effort
If you aren’t strength training, I can guarantee it will make you faster.
You may need to adjust the days and that’s ok. If you want to do both a run a strength on the same day, just try to space them out and fuel well in between. Ideally you will do the run workout first since that is your current training focus.
Not sure where to start? We have guided strength training programs for runners from bodyweight to at home with dumbbells.
Even a 5K training plan has long runs. Especially when you set a goal to knock down your time. The goal of the long run is to build the endurance in your legs, which will help you have that energy to maintain your new goal pace for 3.1 miles.
- Long runs should be done at a conversational pace.
- It’s great if you can mimic the route you’ll be racing on (i.e. super hilly or super flat)
- Definitely do NOT worry about pace on your long runs, the goal is easy effort
In this plan you won’t be focused on any kind of tempo run, but rather we are mixing up your speed to work on two things:
- Running faster than goal pace to increase cadence and make goal pace easier
- Running at 5K time goal pace to get used to how it feels
More speed is not better.
That being said, when running a 5K if your training week is only 3 days of running you may indeed be able to squeeze in a little be more speed work due to the amount of recovery between workouts.
Just be sure that it’s truly SPEED and not the grey zone discussed above.(throwing it back to a Miami 5K…HOT, HUMID, HARD… but Sub 30 done!)
A sub 30-minute 5K is a doable goal! It may not happen the first time you try and that’s ok because you’ve still built a stronger, fitter, faster body that will now be ready to try again.
Many of us (raises hand) have had to try multiple times for a goal from the 30 minute 5K to the Sub 4 Hour marathon.
Not achieving it the first time around could be due to crazy weather, life stress, a weird course or just that you weren’t quite ready. Again, that’s ok!! Don’t put all the pressure on this one race, that’s a great way to add a lot of tension to your body which will make it much harder to hit your goal.
Running goals are meant to excite us and to keep growing with us, so don’t stop here!
- How to run a mile without stopping
- First 5K Training Guide
- How to train for a 10K
- 13 Benefits of Running a Race
Other ways to connect with Amanda
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