16 minute 5k Training Plan

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

To consider following this 16 minute 5k plan you should already be able to run at a target race pace of 5:10 minute for at least a mile and/or have a PB under 17 minutes

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.

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

Please read before starting a training plan:
Frequently Asked Questions | Signs of Overtraining

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.

Your 16 minute 5k Training Plan

DayWeek 1Week 2Week 3Rec. Week
Monday30mins easy30mins easyTempo Run
inc. 3m @5:30 p/m
Reps@3:13 per km/ 5:10p/m (90s rec.)
Reps@74s per 400m / 5:00p/m (60s rec.)
Reps@3:13 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

16 minute 5k Training Plan Components

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 07:10 p/m, ideally aim for something in region of 07:10-07:40 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.

About this Plan

Remember that to consider following this 16 minute 5k plan you should already be able to run at a target race pace of 5:10 minute for at least a mile and/or have a PB under 17 minutes.

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.

33 Responses

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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

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