Want to Run 5k in 26.5 Minutes

by Simone

I am starting back to running after about a decade-long break. I've never been particularly fast, but am building stamina. I'm up to 11 km long runs once a week (increasing 10%) each week.

5k in 26.5 minutes
My actual goal is to be able to get faster. I'm training for a potential job that requires that I run 5k in 26.5 min or less. I'm doing 5k in about 40 minutes right now, because I actually cannot run the whole distance yet.

Any advice or tips on how to get faster but still build stamina so I can run for 30+ minutes at a time? Thank you in advance.


Answer by Dominique:

Hi Simone,
Thanks for your 5k running question. Great to hear you are getting back into running after more than a decade off. And it's fantastic that you have built up your long run to 11k already. That's an awesome base to start from. My ideas on this are:

1. A structured run/walk program
2. Once a week - go faster

A Structured Run/Walk Program

5k in 26.5 minutes
Your long run is at a fantastic length already. 11k is a good distance. But you have recognised correctly that we need to get you running continuously. When you run continuously you can chip off a lot of that 5k time, currently at 40 minutes.

I'd like you to have a look at my Beginners Running Program 3. I am not asking you to do it from the start. You are further advanced than that. But consider using some of the principles from this program to get you running continuously:

  • Run slowly - at a conversational pace

  • Slow build-up of running time

  • Gradual, but consistent build-up

  • An hour's workout could be something like 10 x 5 min run w 1 min walk. You can play around with length of your workouts, how much running and how much walking. Just build it up slowly, increase the length of running a bit each and every week.

    When it comes to running, slow and steady always wins the race. I have had dozens and dozens, possibly hundreds of runners complete this running program successfully. Even those, especially those, who did not think they had it in them to run 30 minutes non-stop. But just chipping away at it, day after day, week after week, they achieved results.

    Once a Week - Go Faster

    5k in 26.5 minutes
    Aerobic endurance is super, super important for the 5k. So, building up your long runs, building up the time spent running in your run/walks is going to be key. Assuming you are running 3-4 times a week, it will be great to have one long run, one or two easy runs and one faster session.

    This can be a tempo running session or a faster interval session. The best place to start, if you are very new to faster workouts is the fartlek page.

    What I like about fartleks is that you can just incorporate bouts of faster running in your workout at will. You could decide to run faster to the next lamppost, or to the end of the street, or some other landmark. And you could just happily have a session like that in which you speed up 5-10 times. It is very unstructured, and that doesn't work for everybody, but it's a fun way to start with speedwork.

    You can make your workouts more structured, there are some ideas on the aforementioned pages of workouts you can do. The main idea is to run at different paces. Each type of workout stimulates your body in different ways. Having a mix of different types of running is what is going to help make you a faster, stronger runner.

    I hope these ideas get you on your way and help you achieve your goal of running the 5k in 26.5 minutes! If you are bound by a certain time limit and need more specific, targeted help, I do offer a running coaching service through which I'd be able to provide more support.

    All the best!
    Kind regards,

    5k running tips

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