Want a Sub-22 min for 5K

by Gabrielle
(Portsmouth, UK)

Hi. I'd like to get a sub 22 min for 5km. I'm a 33 year old female, pretty active, I've been a runner for about 10 years as a way to keep fit. I run 25-30 miles on and off road. Plus I cycle 50 miles every week.

My best 5km is 22:13 but can't seem to better it at the moment. I do a mixture of distances, from 800m reps (I do between 3-6 at the moment) to 10 miles steady runs.

Currently training for a half marathon in 3 months. But I really would like a sub-22 minutes for a 5km, if not sub-21.

Answer by Dominique:
Hi there,
Thanks for your question about getting to sub-22 on the 5k.

My thoughts on this are:

1. The difficulty of chasing two goals at once
2. Half marathon training
3. 5k training

want to run a sub22 min 5k

The Difficulty of Chasing Two Goals at Once

You note you are training for a half marathon at the moment.

It will be a bit hard chasing two goals at once.

The focus in half marathon running training is more on long runs, easy runs, steady state runs and tempo runs.

For 5k running training all of those are important too, but the focus shifts towards speedwork way more.

So, first of all, it is probably good to make a decision: will you start chasing your 5k goal now, or do you train for your half marathon?

My suggestion would be that you continue training for the half marathon at the moment. The half marathon training will help build your endurance. And there is nothing wrong with building a bigger engine. You might find your 5k time dropping already, just off the back of solid half marathon training.

Half Marathon Training

want to run a sub22 min 5k
Your running training sounds reasonably varied. I'd make sure that you get plenty of tempo running and long runs in over the next three months.

The half marathon is a great distance as you can make sure that you cover the distance and more in your long runs, an excellent confidence-booster.

In the last two months of your half marathon preparation, I'd reduce the amount of pure interval running you do in favour of goal pace workouts. The closer you get to your half marathon, the more specific you want your running training to be.

Also check out the Half Marathon Training Section.

5k Training

When training for your 5k, the basics remain mostly the same. Easy runs, long runs, steady state runs, tempo runs. They all remain important. But interval pace is pretty close to 5k pace, so intervals become much more important. Restrict them to once per week; I would not go doing intervals more than that.

Your workout of 6 x 800m is a good workout. Try to vary with different distances. A nice progression ahead of a 5k race in the last 4-5 weeks for a race is to slowly go from 12 x 400m to 5 x 1k. E.g. start with 12 x 400m. Next week do 10 x 500m, etc.

I would hope that the more specific training for the 5k, supported by that big engine you are building with your half marathon training will help get you there.

Check out the 5k Running Tips Section for further advice and Q&A about the 5k.

Hope this helps.
Kind regards,

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