16 minute 5k Training Plan

Target Race Pace: 5:10 per mile/ 3:13 p/km for a 16 Minute 5k

Successfully running a 16 minute 5k means you will need to be able to run slightly faster than a target race pace of 5:10 minute per mile pace for the full 3.1 mile distance.

Your Speed/Distance Training Zones: 16 minute 5k

Pace per Mile / KmTreadmill Pace400m / 800m Splits5km Race Pace
05:10 / 03:1311.6 mph / 18.5 km/h77 / 2:3416min 00s
*for speed/distance conversation allow for a small amount of rounding up/ down.

Like all of our training plans, this plan will require you to run slightly faster than the required race pace for short durations, so before starting any of our plans ensure that you are able to run at your target race pace for at least 1km or preferably a mile.

If you are not quite there yet then take a look at the 18 minute 5k training plan instead and then come back to this one once you are in a position to run at this pace for a km.

Other 5k training plans: 16 minute 5k || 18 minute 5k || Sub 20 5k || 22 minute 5k || 24 minute 5k || 26 minute 5k || 28 minute 5k || Sub 30 minute 5k || Couch to 5k Training Plan

Your 16 minute 5k Training Plan

Please read before starting a training plan:
Frequently Asked Questions
Signs of Overtraining
DayWeek 1Week 2Week 3Rec. Week
Monday30mins easy30mins easyTempo Run
inc. 3m @5:30 p/m
[email protected]:13 per km/ 5:10p/m (90s rec.)
[email protected] per 400m / 5:00p/m (60s rec.)
[email protected]:13 per km/ 5:10p/m (90s rec.)
Wednesday30mins easy30mins easy30mins easyTempo Run
inc. 3m @5:30 p/m
ThursdayHill Sprints
Kenyan Hills
FridayRest/Cross-trainRestRest/Cross-train30mins easy
Saturday30mins easyTempo Run
inc. 3m @5:30 p/m
30mins easyRest/Cross-train
SundayLong RunLong RunLong RunRest/ Cross-train

Time commitment: circa 3-4 hours of work a week over the course of the sub 16 minute 5k training plan in addition to any time spent cross training.

Breakeven Sessions – 16 minute 5k training plan

These sessions are used for maintaining fitness & recovery. Preparing you for breakthrough sessions:

  • Steady Run – this should be no quicker than 06:00 p/m, ideally aim for something in region of 06:15-06:45 p/m.
  • Long Run – slow & steady run, this should be less than 1 hour.
  • Fartlek – unstructured training. Example Fartlek sessions.

Breakthrough Sessions – 16 minute 5k training plan

These sessions are meant to be challenging intense efforts, treat them as mini-milestones towards your target:

  • 400m Reps – these need to be at 5:00 p/m pace (74s per lap) with a 60sec standing recovery.
  • 800m Reps – should be reps at 5:10p/m pace (2:34 per 800m) with a 200m jogged recovery
  • 1km Intervals – hit 5:10p/m pace (3:13 per km) with a 90sec jogged recovery.
  • Hills: Kenyans/ Hill Sprints – alternate between Kenyans and Hill Sprints to get a balance of power and endurance training. Example Hill Training Sessions.

The core work for the 16 minute 5k training plan is set over a 3-week period with the addition of 1 week’s recovery. At the end of the first 4-week cycle you can repeat and/or tailor the plan to your individual needs to focus on your particular 5k event.

It is recommended that after three months following the 16 minute 5k plan that you reduce your training for a period of one to two weeks to allow your body time to recover from the impact of running. This should mean more time cross-training with a couple of nice easy runs every few days to keep the legs ticking over.

29 Responses

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  1. Raymond says:

    I just don’t understand it. I can run backwards on a very hilly course, with only 1 mile a week and can do a 13:59 5k, I have just tuned 83 and have always had a lot of natural talent. I have hopped a sub 16:00 5k in snow up hill with a gale force wind. Come on guys it’s very easy to achieve.

  2. Opiwan says:

    This plan looks like it is more targeted at HS or College, i.e. younger runners Who may have more natural fitness and quicker recovery and who won’t have had much of a gap in running from school / college but there are several things in this plan that most coaches wouldn’t recommend for most runners.

    First week is generally fine, but only 4 x 1km? Realistically this plan is aimed at people around the 17min and under mark, probably closer to 16min. 95% of those, at the very least, will already be doing 4 x 1km or likely more in a speed session e.g. 4 x 5min, 6 x 4min, 8 x 3 min @ 5km pace or close to it.
    Week 2/3: Not enough rest here between sessions, there is a block of 10 days with 6 hard sessions. Most with just one day of rest or easy running in between. That’s not enough to be sharp for the next session. Some people may argue about running hard on tired legs being good, but seriously if you want to do a speed session properly you need to be able to do it at your best in order to get the most benefit out of it. Running a new session hard on tired legs is a very easy way to get injured.
    Individual sessions:
    1: there should be at least one double run day a week.
    2: easy runs need to be very slow and for at least 40min for full benefit (certain bodily exercise byproducts peak around this point).
    3: a 3 mile tempo is too short, the tempo can be at 5.30 (looks to be about 10sec less than 10k pace of a 16min 5ker) but 4 or 4.5 mile would give more benefit. 2 x 2mi or 2.5mi tempo would also work.
    4: double some of the harder sessions up, a 3 mile tempo would be fine if followed by 6 or 8 x200m at 5k pace or similar. This is the working hard on tired legs but on tired legs that have been well stretched already and not going into an exercise cold, so to speak.
    5: the hill sessions are great to improve form, and you are unlikely to break 16min without at least semi decent form. But again most runners close to 16min will have this form already. So there is no real need for for a hill session in both week 1 and 2, every two weeks is fine especially if the fartlek (and to some extent the long run) has some hills in it.
    6: The long run can be more varied, one week flatish, one week hilly. Take both slow but the hill week will be harder and the hills will help with the form.
    Distance is nowhere near enough for most runners trying to get under 16min. Might be a perfectly fine plan for those under 25. But for those in mid 30’s or beyond this just is nowhere near enough (everyone is of course different) and it needs to be 45/50miles a week if not closer to 60.
    I’m a believer in variety and similar speed sessions shouldn’t be repeated for at least 6 weeks as the body can adapt and certain sessions can become easier if done regularly which will give false confidence.

  3. Sarah says:

    Hi Matt, I’ve been working my way through your training programmes and foudn them really helpful – thank you. Just wondering how the tempo run here should look in terms of miles total and is it best to have the 3 miles on at 5:30 pace alltogether in the middle of the run or could you break it up and do a warm up, 2 on, 1 off, 1 on, cool down kinda thing? Thanks v much for your time.

  4. Neil Danby says:

    Hi, I am 54 years old and turn 55 in August this year I’ve been running for 4 years now after having a 18 year break. My goal is a sub 16min 5km at 55 years old and I’m currently just ticking over on 6 to 7 hrs a week running building and stabilising my aerobic engine. My plan was (before the covid outbreak) to really kick in the hard training from June with a aim to go sub 16 in August & September when I move up to the next age group.

    My 5km PB this year is 16:26 and was in February in cold conditions and with very little track work however I did do some weeks of road intervals of 5 x 1km undulating.

    I am from an Olympic Cross Country Skiing background which gives me a mental barrier that I have to train long hours, I know I can run much quicker if I tried a lower milage program and focused on the speed & tempo.

    I am contemplating trying your 5km sub 16 program from June, hoping that the Covid lockdowns have slackened and allowing some racing to commence.

    On your program you have quite a lot of “30mins easy” runs I never run this short except for a buss ! However I am willing to try! also you state “30mins easy” on your program and in your steady state sessions you state “Steady Run – this should be no quicker than 06:00 p/m, ideally aim for something in region of 06:15-06:45 p/m” Are you meaning the steady run is the 30mins easy run in your program ???

    Best Regards

    Neil Danby
    South London Harriers (UK)

    • David says:

      Hi Neil, thanks for your supplemental insight on this training program. I’m interested to know your thoughts on when during this or any training program you think it’s best to run a race and how frequently. Being an independent runner is interesting in that you have to set your on season and race schedule so to speak.

  5. Chris says:

    Crickey 120km per week, tell me about your injuries!! My 5km PB at aged 49 is 16:55, I run 10-20 miles a week (when I can manage it ), including one speed session. I’ve never been in a running club or had a running coach. I did 1:18 half marathon last week on a rolling course, prior to that my longest run in 2019 was10 miles (7 days prior). I’ve never run more than 40 miles in a week (I did that once 5 years ago and it included a 21 mile trail race) leading up to a 2:42 marathon. Junk miles are pointless and don’t get you faster, just more tired. I do cycle quite a bit for CV base so don’t load the running muscles and swim every week for recovery. Train clever not long!!

    • Anonymous says:

      first person in history to run a 2:42 marathon without running more than 40 miles in a week

    • Chris says:

      imagine you actually think anyone can believe this nonsense you wrote above

  6. Girish says:

    As of today, I can’t believe that 5K distance is completed by folks in 15-16minutes. Amazing and hats off !!

    I guess, I’m the tortoise in the 5k running community, completing the distance in 26-27 minutes :).

    • Paul says:

      Ever heard the story of the tortoise and the hare? – You’re a runner and that is what counts! Be proud of any improvements you achieve!

  7. Jay says:

    My 5K PR is 16:10 and like others have stated, before you even think about speed work you need to have a solid base to work off of. A solid 9-12 weeks of building a solid base is typically what my coaches have taught me. This gives you time to build up the miles and begin to get comfortable with doing high mile weeks. This should be done gradually. Start the 1st week around 20-25 miles and by week 12, you should be at 65+ miles with the middle of that time you consistently running 45-55 miles. This will help build the strength and endurance that you need. Now you may want to throw in tempo runs/fartleks from the 7th-12th week but don’t overdo it. Just see where your body is. Perhaps a 5K time trial in the 10th week can benefit you to see how in shape you are and give you something to work off of. Post 10 weeks, the hard workouts can begin (10x400s, 5x1600s, and 6x800s etc). Even when you start doing those 400, 800, 1600 repeats, you gradually have to get into running faster. The first few workouts you’ll need to run slower than goal pace to adjust your fast twitch muscles. Once your body feels comfortable, those quicker times can be ran (5:04 or faster for the mile repeats, 2:25 or faster for the 800s and 1:12 or faster for the 400s).

    • Jay says:

      ***Also, I was always more of a 800 meter/1600 meter guy but ran XC and never would run over 50 miles. Getting into the 60-70 mile range could’ve benefited me and helped me break 15:30.

  8. Kevin says:

    To run a 16:00 5k you need months of doing aerobic long distance base work work before you can even think about the speed / endurance workouts necessary in the above training plan or any other training plan that is trying to bring you down to that time. 16:00 5k races are usually run by elite high school cross country runners at the end of the season or your area’s finest 5k road racers. My best 5k in high school was a 16:35 on a hilly cross country course. That was after running 400 miles of distance work in the summer. Going to XC camp for a week in the mountains the last week of summer and racing myself in to shape during the season along with track workouts. You have to be in the best running shape of your life and have the power to weight ratio to even train that fast. Nobody should even be thinking about 16:00 unless they have already broken 17:00. It’s hard enough to go from 18:00 to 17:30. Sometimes that takes an entire school year to do.

    • Damian says:

      I ended up not till 2 weeks before the start of cross season for total of 70 miles and ended running 16:30 on the toughest course in the state junior year you really ran 400 miles shit gains

    • Damian Albisu says:

      Last cross season I started training 2 weeks before the season started totaling 75 miles for the summer and ended up running 16:30 on one of the toughest courses in the state of Indiana you ran 400 miles and went to cc camp to run a fucking 16:35 that’s a shame

  9. Draven says:

    @Tewis: You should never set limits or mental roadblocks for other people. To tell someone they are too slow when you don’t have a clue about their physiology is pretty ignorant. On my highschool track team I ran my first Mile race above 6 minutes. Then I trained really hard for two years and I dropped my time to 4:25. If I can drop a minute and a half on a Mile race then anyone can train hard enought to drop a minute or two on their 5k given they train their heart out and have a healthy diet. I think my first 5k was around 19 minutes. In two years I ran 6:19 on a very hilly 5k course. If you have never puked after a 5k or super intense training then it mean you have not trained or raced to your maximum potential. Ive puked a few times. If you are serious.. break down those marriers. My fried finished the last mile of a spartan Super (5-6 mile obstacle course race) with a grade 3 Ankle sprain. Every step his tendons were literally making a gross squishing sound. Im not saying I recommend doing that… but anything is possible.

    • charlie says:

      Not everyone who runs is a young kid. The training threshold before injuries gets smaller as you age. For instance, I’m more likely to pass out and break my head open before I’d ever puke

    • Paul says:

      No one should be encouraging people to train until they are vomiting during or after a workout! If you’re vomiting after a hard workout then you have either eaten too recently or have pushed your body too far!
      Agreed, to achieve any PB in any distance you need to train hard and push your limits (within reason) to adapt and improve, but you’re doing your body more harm than good by pushing it to vomit.

  10. Nameless says:

    Does the inc. 3m mean like incline at 3% ? And why is tempo run pace 15 seconds slower than race pace? Shouldn’t it be 25-30 seconds slower ?

  11. Kanishak says:

    Sir my pb 5k is 17.06 and i ran 120km per weak how can get in sub 16 in 6 months or 8months

  12. NP says:

    i think you should remove discouraging comments like that made by Tewis. Completely unnecessary, and also not true (how can s/he comment on what is possible?).

    • Some Dude says:

      I think Tewis is correct though. To drop 7 minutes in just 6 months would be unprecedented. I ran an 18:30 5k in 8th grade. I only got to 16:30 last weekend, which is almost 2 years later. The training plans I’ve seen on this website are not nearly intense enough, nor do they have enough mileage. I just don’t think to drop that far in 6 months is realistic.

  13. Aditya gupta says:

    my time for 5k is 23min and i am having intercollege race in october and to qualify that i need to run 5k in 16 or maybe in 15:45min plz make a routine so i can follow that plzz…

  14. Dokare says:

    Sir i need your help.