Intermediate 5K Training Plan

You are here:

Intermediate 5K Training Plan

“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

Welcome to the Intermediate 5K Running Plan, a strategic roadmap designed to elevate your running capabilities and optimize your performance in the ever-thrilling 5K race. As you venture into this intermediate training journey, you’re stepping into a realm that bridges the gap between novice and advanced running. The 5K, a classic and approachable distance, is the perfect arena to hone your skills and push your boundaries. This plan is crafted for those who have already tasted the joy of completing a 5K and are now seeking a more refined approach to enhance both speed and endurance. With a balance of structured workouts, tempo runs, and targeted training, this program is your guide to unlocking the next level of running achievement. Lace up your shoes, embrace the challenge, and prepare to surpass your personal best in the dynamic world of 5K racing. Your journey to becoming a stronger, more confident runner begins here.

Individuals will want to choose this plan if they have been running regularly at least 3 to 4 times per week for 40 to 45-minutes. If you are currently running less, that is okay! You may want to consider starting or repeating the Beginner 5K training plan and building your fitness up to this Intermediate 5K plan.

5K Intermediate Running Plan at a glance:

The intermediate 5K running plan follows the following structure and is available for purchase through Coach Andrew Taylor's Final Surge coaching page.

What to Expect:

The 5K Intermediate training plan is designed with similar mileage to the beginner 5K running plan. This plan is perfect for those who have completed a 5K race and want to improve their time. The plan includes running six days weekly with easy runs, long-distance runs, speed workouts, tempo runs, rest days, and optional cross-training days.

This plan is 10 weeks in length and will have you running faster and more efficiently in your next 5K race! Most running sessions are based on time instead of distance, leading to a reduced risk of injury and a more enjoyable experience!

The speed workouts and tempo runs are meant to improve performance by focusing on a faster pace and efficiency. In addition, the gradual increase in long-distance runs will have you running farther and feeling more comfortable while covering the distance.  As the plan progresses, each session’s total running time and intensity will increase.

I include optional but highly recommended strength training workouts in the Intermediate 5K plan. These strength training workouts allow you to incorporate mobility work, core strength, and upper or lower body strength. To improve your 5K time, strength training workouts can make a remarkable difference in building strength and efficiency.

How to Get Started?

Purchase this Intermediate 5K Running Plan on Final Surge for a one-time fee of $19.99 here. Digitally track your progress from start to finish of the training program.

Intermediate 5K Running Plan Preview:

The following is a snapshot of what to expect in your purchased Intermediate 5K Training Plan.

The above training plan preview is designed for educational purposes and is not prescribed for any particular individual. The preview presented does not include complete details of what should be done on each training day. Consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs or if there are any individual health concerns to be aware of.

5K Running Plan Terminology:

The Intermediate 5K training plan terms are defined inside the purchased plan, but let me explain them for you here as well.

Warm-Up: Run/Walk for 5 to 10 minutes at an easy effort before every workout (run 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 a workout.

Cool-Down: Run/Walk for 5 to 10 minutes at an easy effort after every workout (run days and cross-training days). A proper cool-down will help gradually bring your heart rate and breathing back down to normal levels after the days workout.

Perceived Effort: A way to rate your effort level based on your feelings about the level of intensity on a scale of 1 to 10. A 1 is considered ‘At Rest’ and a 10 is considered “An All Out Effort.” Use this scale in combination with Pace and Heart Rate to stay in the correct intensity level shown in the training schedule for a given day.

Heart Rate: If you have access to a heart rate monitor then use this device to stay in the correct range and intensity level shown in the training schedule for a given day.

Cross-Training: 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 cross-training workouts. If you are already active 3 to 4 days per week, then start the cross-training as scheduled in the plan. Examples of activities for cross-training may include cycling, elliptical, rowing, strength training, swimming, or yoga. Cross-training will help to reduce the impact on your body and reduce the risk of injury from running. Cross-training can also speed up recovery time between running workouts. If you are ever feeling too fatigued or sore from running, then you may want to consider taking an occasional cross-training day as an extra day of rest.

Strength Training: 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 body weight, free weights, resistance bands, weight machines, or classes such as Pilates, Yoga, or CrossFit. Include exercises for the upper body, core, back, and lower body. Warm up with a run/walk for 5 to 10 minutes. 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 3, then progress gradually over a few weeks to 2-4 sets of each exercise for 8-15 repetitions.

Flexibility: Stretch lightly after every warm-up and cool-down period. Stretching will help improve flexibility, increase circulation, speed up recovery, and reduce the risk of injury.

Training Paces: We summarize the common training paces below. However, this article on training paces gives an easy-to-understand overview of all the different training paces that can be added to a runner’s routine to improve speed, endurance, and recovery.

Easy Run: Easy pace/effort is considered at or slightly above what you can maintain a conversation, 65-75% of maximum heart rate, and 6-7 on the Perceived Effort scale.

Long Run Effort: The key to developing endurance is the long run, progressively increasing in distance each weekend. The long run should be done at a pace/effort so that you can easily maintain a conversation throughout the run. Work on running with an even pace/effort from start to finish of the long run. Be sure to recover properly after a long run as well so that you can get right back to training in the next day or week.

Speed Work or Track Workouts: Warm up with 10-15 minutes of running at an easy pace. Then, complete the appropriate speed workout for the day. These speed workouts should be at a hard effort, 80-95% of maximum heart rate, 8+ Perceived Effort. You should be able to hear yourself breathing hard. It is very important to make sure your easy recovery effort between repeats is truly easy. Running too fast during the recovery can have a negative impact on your performance during these workouts. Walk for recovery if you need to.

Tempo Run: A tempo run is a sustained effort run that increases your body’s ability to run faster for longer periods of time. Whether you are training for a 5k, marathon, ultramarathon, or anything in between, this is a useful training session. Beyond improving your ability to run fast and long, tempo runs have many other benefits. Tempo runs should always include a warm-up period of easy running before moving on to the harder-paced portion of the workout.

Racing: Consider adding test races throughout your training plan, especially if your goals are time-oriented. This race will allow you to familiarize yourself more with running in a structured event. If you can’t find a race during this week, feel free to modify the schedule around what races are available.

Adaptability: Don’t be afraid to move the workouts from day to day and week to week. This training plan is merely a guide to help you complete your desired race distance. Be consistent with your training, and the overall details won’t matter. Listen to your body and progress as your fitness allows you to progress.