Run Your Best 5-K or 10-K In 6 Weeks!

It’s no gimmick! There’s plenty to gain from racing shorter distances: improved fitness, more speed, newfound time for the rest of your life.

Bob Cooper |

It’s no gimmick! There’s plenty to gain from racing shorter distances: improved fitness, more speed, newfound time for the rest of your life. – By Bob Cooper

Ewald Sadie
Ewald Sadie

The Drama of the marathon intoxicates many a runner, from starry-eyed newbies to PB-chasing veterans. But training for 42.2km isn’t the only path to glory. In fact, training for other distances – like the 5-K or 10-K – can be more challenging, and get you in better shape.

With the following six-week training plans, you can adopt a new target distance, ramp up your fitness, and simply enjoy the pleasures of running.

The 5-K: Fast Fun!

While it’s true that 5km is a race for the masses, experienced runners can treat it as a serious test of speed. “The 5-K requires a different mind-set to a longer race,” says Carol Rewick, a coach with No Boundaries, a 5-K training programme for beginners. “The effort involved is much more intense – but it’s also more temporary, because it’s over too soon for fatigue to creep in.”

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Weekly mileage in the 30s is adequate, with a long run of six to 12km.

Speedwork is more critical for 5-Ks than for longer races, because you have to get used to running with a quick stride while slightly out of breath. The emphasis should be on 400- to 800-metre intervals and short tempo-type runs at close to goal race pace. “You need to be physically and mentally prepared for the intensity of the 5-K, by expanding the threshold of what your legs and lungs can handle,” says Rewick.

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You can’t use the first kilometre or two of a 5-K to warm up, because that’s half the race. “Get your heart rate up and your muscles loose before the start with some jogging and 20-second strides, so that you’re perspiring,” says Rewick. Wear lighter racing shoes if possible, since cushioning isn’t as crucial for shorter distances. Break them in during speed workouts.

Download your 5-K training programme here.

Next Page: The 10-K Speed Test! >>

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