“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” – Christopher McDougall
The Advanced 5K training plan follows a similar approach to the intermediate run training plan. However, with this plan there is a higher focus on more mileage and more speed workouts. An Advanced 5K plan is meant for the seasoned 5K runner who is looking to improve their finish times and performance.
This plan is 10-weeks in length and will have you running 4 days per week. Each week features a speed workout, tempo run, long run, rest days, and cross-training. Running sessions are based on time instead of distance, leading to a reduced risk of injury, faster recovery between workouts, and a more enjoyable experience!
The gradual increase in distance will have you running farther and feeling more comfortable while covering the distance. Speed workouts are meant to improve performance by focusing on a faster pace and efficiency. As the plan progresses, the total running time and intensity of each session will increase.
The Advanced 5K training plan includes optional, but highly recommended, cross-training workouts. These cross-training workouts allow you to incorporate other activities you enjoy with this training plan. Cross-training activities may include cycling, yoga, elliptical, swimming, or weight-lifting. With the goal on improving your 5K time, cross-training workouts can make a remarkable difference in building strength and efficiency.
Individuals will want to choose this plan if they have been running regularly at least 4 to 5 times per week for 45 to 60-minutes for at least one year. If you are currently running less, that is okay! You may want to consider starting with or repeating the Intermediate 5K plan and building your fitness up to this Advanced 5K plan.
5K Advanced Training Plan Terminology
The terms in the 5K Advanced training plan are defined inside the downloaded plan, but let me define them for you here as well.
Walk for 5 minutes at an easy effort before every workout (run-walk days and cross-training days). A proper warm-up will help to gradually increase heart rate, improve circulation, loosen up muscles, and prepare you for the days workout.
Walk for 5 minutes at an easy effort after every workout (run-walk days and cross-training days). A proper cool-down will help to gradually bring your heart rate and breathing rate back down to normal levels after the days workout.
A way to rate your effort level based on your feelings about the level of intensity on a scale from 1 to 10. 1 is considered ‘At Rest’ and 10 is considered ‘An All Out Level.’ Use this scale to stay in the correct range listed in the training schedule for a given day (i.e. 6-7).
If you have access to a heart rate monitor then use this device to stay in the correct range listed in the training schedule for a given day (i.e. 60-75% of maximum heart rate).
Include activities other than running and walking in your training plan. If you are completely new to exercise, then you may want to wait until weeks 4 or 5 to add in a cross-training workouts. If you are already active 3 to 4 days per week, then start the cross-training as scheduled in the plan. Activities for cross-training may include cycling, elliptical, rowing, strength training, swimming, and more. Cross-training allows you to rest your running muscles and work opposing muscle groups. These activities will help to reduce the impact on your body and the risk of injury. Cross-training can also speed up recovery time between run-walk workouts. Cross-training workouts should be done at a moderate level, Perceived Effort of at least 7, or a Heart Rate of 75-80%.
A form of cross-training, strength training can be a great way to increase lean muscle and boost metabolism while at rest. Strength training can be completed using free-weights, resistance bands, weight machines, or classes such as pilates, yoga or cross-fit. Include exercises for upper body, core, and lower body. Warm-up with a walk or another form of cardio. If you are new to strength training, then start with 1 set of each exercise for 12-15 repetitions. The goal is to work your muscles to fatigue or until you can no longer maintain proper form during the exercise. Continue with 1 set of each exercise for weeks 1 through 4, then progress to 2 to 3 sets of each exercise for 8-12 repetitions.
Stretch lightly after every warm-up period. Stretch again after every workout to improve flexibility, increase circulation, and reduce the risk of injury.
Easy pace/effort is considered slightly above what you can maintain a conversation, 70-75% of maximum heart rate, and 6 to 7 on the Perceived Effort scale.
Moderate pace/effort is where you can hear your breathing, but you are not breathing hard, 75-80% of maximum heart rate, and 7 to 8 on the Perceived Effort scale.
Warm-up with 10-15 minutes at an easy pace. Then complete the appropriate speed workout for the day. All hard efforts are considered 90-95% of heart rate, 9+ Perceived Effort. You should be able to hear yourself breathing hard. It is very important to make sure your easy recovery effort is truly easy. Running to fast during the recovery can have a negative impact on your performance during these workouts and throughout the other parts of the training plan.
Run the first 40-60% of the run at an easy pace. For the last 40-60% of the run, steadily increase your pace every 5 to 10 minutes. Finish the last 10 minutes of the run at a hard effort, 90-95% heart rate, 9+ on Perceived Effort. These runs teach you how to correctly pace yourself from the start of a race, to the fast and strong finish of a race.