26 minute 5k Training Plan

Target Race Pace:  8:20 per mile / 5:12 per km for a 26 minute 5k

To consider following this 26 minute 5k plan you should already be able to run at a target race pace of 08:20 minute for at least a mile (5:12p/km) and/or have a PB under 28 minutes.

If you are not quite there yet then take a look at the 28 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: 26 minute 5k

Pace per Mile/KmTreadmill Pace400m / 800m Splits5km Race Pace
08:20 / 05:127.2 mph / 11.5 km.h2:04 / 4:0926min 00s
*for speed/distance conversation allow for a small amount of rounding up/ down.

Your 26 minute 5k training plan

DayWeek 1Week 2Week 3Rec. Week
Monday30min easyRest/ cross-train30min easyRest/ cross-train
Reps@5:12 per km/ 8:20p/m (90s rec.)
Reps@2:02 per 400m / 8:10p/m (60s rec.)
Reps@5:12 per km/ 8:20p/m (90s rec.)
Rest/ cross-train
Wednesday30min easy30min easy30min easy30min easy
Thursday4x800m Reps@4:09 per 800m/ 8:20 p/m
(200m rec jog)
Tempo Run
inc 3 miles at circa 08:35 per mile pace
Rest/ cross-train
FridayRest/ cross-trainRestRest/ cross-train30min easy
Saturday30min easyRest/ cross-trainFatlek
Rest/ cross-train
SundayLong runRest/ cross-trainLong runRest/ cross-train

26 minute 5k Training Plan Components

Breakeven Sessions – 26 minute 5k

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

  • Steady Run – this should be no quicker than 10:20 p/m. Aim for somewhere between 10:20-10:50 per/mile.
  • Long Run – slow and steady pace, this should be less than 1 hour.
  • Fartlek – unstructured training. Example Fartlek sessions.

Breakthrough Sessions – 26 minute 5k

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

  • 400m Reps – these need to be at 8:10 p/m pace (2:02 per lap) with a 60sec standing recovery.
  • 800m Reps – should be reps at 8:20p/m pace (4:09 per 800m) with a 200m jogged recovery.
  • 1km Intervals – hit 8:20p/m pace (5:12 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 even consider following this 26 minute 5k plan you should already be able to run at a target race pace of 08:20 minute for at least a mile (5:12p/km) and/or have a PB under 28 minutes.

The core work for the 26 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 2/3 months of using the training plan that you take a break and treat yourself to a couple of weeks of low-key training. This should start with 2-3 day's off from running completely and continue with a nice short easy run every other day.

54 Responses

  1. Andrea says:

    I did the 3 x1 km speed workout today. Trying to get back down to a 22 minute 5k after a herniated disc and rotator cuff tear, I ran the intervals in around 5.16 per KM and my garmin says that’s equivalent to 8.08 minute mile pace, not 8.20.?

  2. Jess Williams says:

    Hi, I am able to complete all of the speed work in the 28min km but I am really struggling with the speed for this plan. I would like to aim for a medium of 27 min 5k. Would you advise finding a mid way time for the speed work? What sort of time should I am for? Is it better to do as fast as I can manage but have to walk between the intervals to start with or slightly slower but jog in between? I have found your plans very useful so far, thankyou.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Jess, my recommendation would depend on how many cycles of the plan you have tried already. I found I had to persevere with some of them even when I wasn’t making the speed session target times at first, after a few cycles I eventually got there. I would keep going rather than trying to find a medium as this might just overcomplicate things a bit.
      With regards to intervals both methods have their benefits in my view so neither is better than the other; key is to be hitting the target race pace so if you walk between intervals and this leads to a quicker recovery then this option is probably one to go for given a choice. Good luck and hope that helps.

  3. Rico says:

    Adding my thanks and a little success story, from a middle-aged guy. Started this 26-min program when my PB was around 27:20. Went through one 4-week cycle which dropped the PB (at the start of week 4) to just under 27:00. Started a second cycle, and yesterday (Tues of Week 3) achieved 25:28. Satisfying! During that run, felt fatigued for about 500m between the 3km and 4km points, but pushed through. The 3x 1km reps in the program had taught me that even when I am feeling tired and slow, if I just keep moving my 1km time would vary by only a few seconds — very helpful.

  4. Kevin says:

    Thanks so much for this program, today just achieved 25:46 and shaved off 2:10 from my time. great program.

  5. Belinda says:

    Hello! Great plans, thank you for providing them. I would really appreciate your advice on timing. I have about 5 weeks until a planned race, and I just did a race about a week ago with a time of 27:22. I have done no running since then. I would like to get a little faster for the next race, but I am sure 26 is not realistic for me in this short time, so I have adjusted the training paces accordingly. Do you have a suggestion for how I could train the first week of the second cycle if I were to do this race on the Sunday of that week (i.e., at 5 weeks)? Thanks!

    • Matt says:

      Hi Belinda,
      If I have got the dates/info correct then it seems like your race is around the 13th/14th November. So as you say you could complete one full cycle of the training plan and then your race would be at the end of week one of cycle two. My approach would be to make the recovery week slightly shorter in that you would do your week 1 speed sessions a day or two earlier (Sunday and Tuesday or Monday and Wednesday for example). Then the days leading up to your race you can do easy runs or a bit of cross training in preparation. Hope I’ve understood and that makes sense. Good luck and let us know how it goes! Cheers.

      • Belinda says:

        Yes it does make sense, thank you! And yes, the race is on the 14th. I’m looking forward to doing this one and then completing a couple cycles of your 26 min plan for real before doing another race. Thanks again!!

  6. Chandler says:

    Do you have thoughts on replacing the 30 minute run days w bike rides? I feel that it saved pounding on my 50+ year old knees and ankles.
    Do you see any downside?

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