Sub 20 minute 5k - the straightforward way

12 messages
18/10/2012 at 20:42

Here's my straightforward plan to do a sub-20 minute 5k, not necessarily easy but certainly straightforward

any thoughts?


Running 5k Better


Goals:  /82% Age Graded 5k and an open water Triathlon.

18/10/2012 at 22:08
My thoughts are that you need to condense. You make sense but you waffle too much. make it shorter and more punchy. Try to be less boring. Hope this helps.
18/10/2012 at 23:20
I always remember my English teacher telling me that using p.s. was bad form; indicating that you hadn't planned properly what you had written.
19/10/2012 at 00:03

ps you're right

19/10/2012 at 14:09

a lot of that link reminds me of one of those generic RW training articles.

By that I mean that the overall logic is sound in places, but the overall premise isn't narrowed down enough.

You actually mention yourself that sub 20 is a wildly different achievement dependent on age/gender, yet you make no distinction of what shape you have to be in before undertaking your little 2-3month plan.

A man 18-39 in the 22-23min range already, with 6months running experience who does 20-25miles a week it'd probably work for.

For a 57year old woman who's 5 years in, does 30miles a week and has a pb of 27 mins it has no chance

Edited: 19/10/2012 at 14:10
19/10/2012 at 18:11

@StevieG, yes that's true. Thank you for those comments. I was trying to help people who want direction and are competent runners. Few people have the benefit of personalised training plans or coaching, so i was trying to help there.

I do add caveats that you need to be able to run for an hour and another caveat that  if your current PB is 23-25 minutes then the plan is porobably too ambitious for you at present. So yes I agree it would not work for the 57 year old woman you mention who in reality will probably never get below 20 minutes...


Running 5k Better


Goals:  /82% Age Graded 5k and an open water Triathlon.

03/11/2012 at 22:47

I've been doing your 5k programme for the past 2 weeks and I'v found it to be very good, I wanted to change my usual routine up abit to avoid bordom, and also increase my speed abit so I googled for a sub 20 training plan and found your one, much fun so far. I wanna do a timed parkrun before the end of the year and see if I can get a sub 20.

04/11/2012 at 06:22

My guess is that you've improved the article since you received the comments above.... as it seems pretty clear.

But the actual 4 part programme is not so easy to instantly get my head round.  Partly because I cannot think in 'seconds per km'  -  as I'm a miles person.

If I decide to do it, then I could spend some times working it all out.-  but if you're good at spreadsheets, you could create a  nice little tool where people input their max & rest heart rates, and the target time for their next 5K race.   As an output, the spreadsheet could give an actual schedule of training paces/times for each individual.

It would take you a few hours to do it - so that all depends on your own motivation for writing your blog/website.. but would save at least 30 minutes for each user and remove a big barrier for the uptake of your proposal (for me, I think it would take more than 30 mins to sit down and sort it all out).

I'm just coming off the back of a marathon, and looking to do something different for a while, so might have a go - although I might look to 10K first. 



21/11/2012 at 16:54

Jon & RunWales

thanks for the feedback. Always appreciated.

I made a few changes but not many (I thought my PS and PPSs were funny (?) but hey ho they're now numbered corporate bullet points...a bit more boring). I guess it depends on how you start reading it. I could have really condensed to a few paragraphs but then would have been criticised for making MANY mistakes hence the caveats and setting the scene. We Brits are a critical lot you know (me too).

Jon: I think you hit the nail on the head there. ie "change your routine". I think that is one of the best generic ways to improve as your body willotherwise get used to the same stimulus each time.

RunWales: yes point taken I once was a miles person but saw the light. But I take your point re uptake as we are all different. I haven't got time right now to do that but i think i will at some point  


Edited: 21/11/2012 at 16:59
25/05/2013 at 18:13

Commenting on an old thread here.

I'm relatively new to running full stop and I liked the 5k article. I'm 47 and didn't start running regularly until Jan 2012. After several months my pace was 5 mins per km over 5k and 10k and while it was easy for me to run those distances I was frustrated at not being able to do them any quicker. My training wasn't structured, as a friend pointed out, so in Oct 2012 I adopted a 'proper' training plan running 4 times per week. This was a half marathon plan in preparation for a 10 mile race in Feb 2013 which I completed and managed an average 4:36 per km so something was working.

After that race I swapped to a 5k finish faster plan reducing runs to 3 times per week so that I could fit in some swimming and cycling. I ran a 22:55 5k race recently and that felt like maximum effort. I was disappointed that after a further 3 months on a 5k specific plan (not yours by the way) I could run no faster per km over 5k than I could over 16k in Feb. I was searching for the reasons for this failure to improve when I read your article which has some resonance for me.

  • I think with just 3 runs per week I can maintain performance but not improve.   4 runs per week is probably the minimum. 
  • The long runs are as important for me as the speedwork. I don't know if this is an age thing or not but I'll go back on the half marathon plan and see what happens.
  • At 47 and after 10 years on doing next to nothing I need to be realistic.

I want to be able to race 5k, 10k and Half Marathon over the coming 6 months and I'd love to be able to do 20 mins, 45 mins and 1:45 respectively.


25/05/2013 at 20:15

Hi, Just one observation on your last point, your times for the respective distances dont really marry up, unless you are far better at the higher threshold pace pace stuff. Its more likely however that at 47, your endurance will be stronger. a 20 min 5k would put you at 41 min for 10k and 1hr 32 for half. Likewise a 45min 10k would put you at 22 for 5k. Have you looked at mcmillan race paces?

10/07/2013 at 11:43

@DT19 +1, you'd also need to adjust the paces for your level of fatigue.

hi Sketty - I think your 5k specific plan probably wasn't at fault. I suspect mine would have made only some difference at the margins (other things being equal).

But on to the meat of what you say: with 3 runs per week you CAN CERTAINLY improve quite a lot. It sounds like you are following a sprint triathlon plan of some sorts if all your sessions (presumably 9-12 per week) involve at least 30 mins of 'trying' then you simply must be getting better/'fitter' IF your plan allows sufficient recovery and speed (diet etc). If you did your 22:55 'flat out' BUT fatigued then simply by tapering properly you could knock more than 1 minute off. 

IMHO it's not all about miles or even speedy miles. There's a lot more to getting the benefit from the miles or miles per hour than just what you do on the ground.

so start off by looking at your taper, hydration shoes, caffeine, sleep, warm up and my article on "how to get a 5k PB this weekend' that'll at least give you a few more things to think about and you certainly also need to consider AS WELL how you training is structured.


Edited: 14/05/2014 at 20:25

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