How to Train for a 15k Run

by Shannin
(Niagara Falls, NY)

I run 30 minutes 5 times a week that includes a 2min brisk walk warm up and a 2min brisk walk cool down. I also do weight training 3-4 times a week.

I want to run a 15k in four months' time and want to start serious training for it as soon as possible. what should I incorporate into my workout to better ready myself for this feat?

Answer by Dominique:

Hi there,
Thanks for your question about training for your 15k run.

I'll break my answer down as follows:

1. Increase your mileage
2. Add a long run in your schedule
3. Optional - add quality workouts
4. Strength training and running

Increase Your Mileage

how to train for a 15k run

You have a very solid base to start off from. It's fantastic you are doing your 30 minutes runs five times a week and you do your strength training 3-4 times per week. And with four months to train, you are well positioned to take on this 15k race.

I would recommend increasing your mileage, slowly but surely. I'd love to see some of those 30 minute runs getting longer over time. I would not recommend making all your runs longer. Increasing your mileage is part one of the answer, doing so safely is part two. It would be best if you try to stick to the hard/easy principle: that means that a harder day should be followed by an easier day.

Start by adding five minutes to every other run. Then build up from there. It would be fantastic if some of your regular weekly runs get to about 50-60 minutes. The other easier runs could stay around the 30 minute mark.

Also check out the Increasing Mileage Safely page for more guidance on increasing your mileage.

Add a Long Run to Your Schedule

how to train for a 15k run

Secondly, make sure one of your longer runs becomes extra long. A long easy run builds endurance like no other type of running training. How long should this long run be? A lot is dependent on your goals. Assuming you want to finish the 15k and don't have a specific time goal in mind, I'd be comfortable with your longest long run being 12-13k. On race day, you will be able to cover the final 2-3k.

The more serious your time goal would be, the more I would push up the long run. But given you are going to be increasing your training load already, I'd be hesitant to prescribe long runs that are going to push (well) past the 15k mark.

Optional - Add Quality Workouts

how to train for a 15k run
A well-rounded running training program should also include some quality workouts. Things like intervals, tempo workouts and fartleks.

Once again, you are going to be increasing your training load already. Which increases injury risk.

Adding faster workouts to the mix will increase the injury risk more.

So, I am not saying you should not add some quality workouts, but I would tell you to do it carefully. Do it once a week. Start off with a workout that includes shorter intervals and longer rest periods. E.g. Warm-up 10-15 minutes (easy running), Intervals of 6 x 30 seconds fast with 2 minutes recovery, 10-15 minutes cool-down (easy running). See how that impacts you. If all goes well, then build up the workload a little the next week.

Quality workouts will increase your fitness, but the increases in mileage will get you to the finish line. So, although I am a big fan of adding quality to any running program, I'd like to make sure you get to the starting line first and foremost, so be sensible about what you do.

Strength Training and Running

how to train for a 15k run
It's very encouraging to see that you are already doing strength training 3-4 times per week. That should be a massive help in running injury prevention.

I would definitely keep up doing strength training. But as you are increasing the mileage, just be mindful of the increases in training load overall. You don't want to max out in the weight room in every workout and at the same time push your running training to new levels. Over time, as your running training becomes more demanding, consider moving your strength training into maintenance mode. You can still get many of the benefits from your strength training from two strength workouts per week.

how to train for a 15k run
Just something to keep in mind given you will also simply need to find the time in your schedule to fit it all in.

Hope this has provided some perspective on how to train for your 15k run.

All the best.
Kind regards,

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