Sub 20 5k Training Plan

Target Race Pace: 6:25 per mile / 3:59 per km for a sub 20 5k

In order to achieve a sub 20 5k you will need to be able to run just under a target race pace of 6:25 minutes per mile pace for the full 3.1 mile distance. That’s 4 minutes per kilometer in new money.

Your Speed/Distance Training Zones: 20 minute 5k

Pace per Mile / KmTreadmill Pace400m / 800m Splits5km Race Pace
06:25 / 04:009.3 mph / 15.0 km/h96s / 3:1220min 00s
*for speed/distance conversation allow for a small amount of rounding up/ down.
sub 20 5k

Follow our 5k training plan to have you running a sub 20 5k

To start this training plan it is recommended that your 5k PB should be below the 22 minute 5k mark already and you are able to run at a pace of 6:25 per mile for at least 1km.

This is because during the course of this sub 20 5k training plan you will be running at a slightly faster pace than this for short durations so you need to ensure that you can hit the 6:25 for at least 1km.

If you are not quite there yet have a look at one of our other 5k training plans before building up to this one:

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 sub 20 5k training plan

Please read before starting a training plan:
Frequently Asked Questions
Signs of Overtraining
DayWeek 1Week 2Week 3Rec. Week
Monday30min easy30min easyHill Sprints
[email protected]:00 per km/ 6:25p/m (90s rec.)
[email protected] per 400m/ 6:15p/m (60s rec.)
[email protected]:00 per km/ 6:25p/m (90s rec.)
Wednesday30min easy30min easy30min easyTempo Run
inc. 3m @6:40 p/m
[email protected]:12 per 800 / 6:25p/m
(200m rec.)
FridayRest/Cross-trainRestRest/Cross-train30min easy
Saturday30min easy6x800m
[email protected]:12 per 800 / 6:25p/m
(200m rec.)
30min easyRest/Cross-train
SundayLong runLong runLong runRest/Cross-train

Time commitment: You should be looking to commit roughly 3-6 hours of work a week over the course of the sub 20 5k training plan depending on the number of cross training sessions you get through.

Breakeven Sessions – Sub 20 5k training plan

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

  • Easy/ Steady Run – this run should be according to how you feel, don’t worry about the time, make sure it’s no quicker than 08:00 p/m. Concentrate on recovery and form.
  • Long Run – slow & steady run, this should be less than 1 hour.
  • Fartlek – unstructured training. Example Fartlek sessions.

Breakthrough Sessions – Sub 20 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 6:15 p/m pace (93s per lap) with a 60sec standing recovery.
  • 800m Reps – should be reps at 6:25p/m pace (3:12 per 800m) with a 200m jogged recovery.
  • 1km Intervals – hit 6:25p/m pace (4:00 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 sub 20 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 sub 20 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.

344 Responses

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  1. Martin says:

    Great plan. In 6weeks I went from 21.30 to 19.54.
    Chuffed. Thanks.

  2. Lawrence says:

    Thanks for the training plan. Was running around 21/22 and after six weeks enjoyed a relaxed 19.55. At 45 was pleased with progress and as a 400m runner at heart running a strong 5k was great. Thanks again

  3. Simon says:

    Would it be possible to write paces in min/km? It’s trying that all distances are in meters, but paces in miles :'(

  4. Richard says:

    I can’t seem to sustain the 1km workouts .. I’m OK hitting my race pace for the first couple of K’s but always drop off in the middle.. same when I do my 5k parkrun.. is this normal and does this plan improve your mid race pace? I’m into week 3 and not much improvement as yet?

  5. Richard says:

    I can’t seem to sustain the 1km workouts .. I’m OK hitting my health pace for the first couple of K’s but always drop off in the middle.. same when I do my 5k parkrun.. is this normal and does this plan improve your mid race pace? I’m into week 3 and not much improvement as yet?

  6. Anonymous says:

    My 10k pr is 45 minutes and 5k 21:30 do you think i am able in 4-5 weeks to do the 5k sub 20minutes?

  7. Jack says:

    Omg, the 800m 3.12 is too difficult. I failed all the timing.. The recovery is too short.. My pb is 20:50. Am I doing something wrong?

  8. Mu says:

    Is it ok to do 40-45 min easy instead of 30mins??

    • Toon says:

      If I were to swap out the hill training sessions for a different type of run, any suggestions on what the best substitutions would be? Would one of the interval sessions of the training plan be a good swap? I live in about the flattest part of the world, and additionally I’m a bit worried about my achilles injury flaring up with uphill intense efforts. Would love your feedback. Thanks for the work put into this!

  9. Theo says:

    I tried this in the first lockdown got me so close to sub 20! Going to try another couple of cycles to get me over the line. Really enjoyed the sessions!

  10. Anonymous says:

    The 5k workout is indeed a great benchmark workout. But is it just me or if you can do that 5k workout the 400 intervals should be like sleep walking. Right?

  11. John says:

    The only sub 20 running plan you will ever need! Absolutely superb. I used the sub 20 for a few cycles and got 19:51. Thank you Matt for the assistance with an amazing free resource. Really appreciate it!

  12. Rob says:

    Hi, thanks for the plan, just ran 21.09 after 8 years of not running so going to give this a go now. Can I check the tempo run, it looks very short and faster than I’d be used to for tempos, I’d be thinking more 6.50-7.10 for 6.25 race pace? Thanks

    • Anonymous says:

      HI Rob,. At 43 y/o I started in Sept 2021 with parkrun time of 27h30. Two weeks ago I had pb of 21:05. This year my aim is sub 20 with my boys as my motivation 🙂

  13. John says:

    Thanks matt. 20:34 was my PB. I followed your program for 3 months and I ran 19:58 in a parkrun last week

  14. A says:

    This plan took me from 20:10 to 19:43 in just 5 weeks. Huge thank you to Matt for putting this together.

  15. Gastón says:

    I did it! 19:58 all time PR today doing this plan for 3 months. My prior PR was 21:45 so this is a great improvement. Thank you @matt for putting this plan out. Now on to the sub 19.. woohoo

  16. juan Nomura says:

    Excellent , I will use this program to trading x my next 5 k

  17. Peter says:

    Found this article after a quick search for a 5k training plan. I had been running just over 22 minute 5k’s before I had a back injury and had to take 2 months off for recovery/PT. Now I have an event in 3.5 weeks, and hoping to “fast track” my return to form – do you think I could pull off at least progress towards a <20' 5k within one cycle of this 4-week plan?

  18. Kieran Lineham says:

    Got my PB sub 20 today after 1 cycle. Thank you so much!! 19.12, knocking over a minute off my previous. Big ❤

  19. William says:

    This plan looks great. I have a question about the plan- I just ran a 5k yesterday in 21:58. The description says that the plan is good if you can run a 5k under 22min and run 1km in 6:25. I can do both of those but running 5x1km at 6:25 would be a big jump and I don’t think I could do the workout with only 90s rest. I’m wondering how I should modify the plan? Do the reps at a slower pace and work up to 6:25 pace?

    • James says:

      William regarding whether you could do the 5 x 1km you might surprise yourself! I thought exactly the same thing but actually was surprised when managed it! What I would maybe try is what I did and try the week with the 10 x 400m just for that week before starting the program proper and going into the 5x1km on week 1. This is what I did after finishing the 22 min plan and it worked for me. Cheers

    • Fred says:

      You don’t need to modify the plan, just give it a go and you should be able to improve as time goes by. It is ok to start a bit off and push yourself towards the right place.

  20. Matt says:

    Loving the plan so far – only comment Is that a 90s jogged recovery is kind of a pain —too long for a 200m jog, too short for 300. How are others handling this?

    • james says:

      Hey Matt again Matt who does the site would know best but I have never been too worried about what I do during the recovery period, more just that I get my heart rate down ready to hit the next interval. Tbh I completed the sub 20 plan after a couple of cycles mostly walking the 90 seconds between the intervals. I always have just concentrated on the quality of the interval itself and the timing of the recovery period.

      • Matt says:

        thanks – thats exactly what I ended up doing. I am at ~21:30 right now so 20:00 is definitely a stretch goal. I ended up doing a standing rest and its actually perfect for me to be challenging but possible to hit that 4:00 on most intervals

  21. Shoug says:

    Hi Matt!
    Just wanted you to clarify the tempo run? Did that mean 3 miles at pace: 6:40?

  22. Jordan says:

    Do you recommend attempting a race at the end of week 3? If so, how should I structure it. I assume not at end of week 4 since it would be 10 days since last interval session

    • james c says:

      Hi Jordan Matt will know much better than me but after 2 years of following these plans I have found best time to race is 5 or 6 days after the Temp run in week 4. This is when I feel at my strongest. Cheers James

  23. Michael Ward says:

    Thank you for the program. I am really enjoying it. I am in my second week and doing my first hill session this Thursday. At what pace should I do the Kenyan Hill training? 10min is a long time running hills without stopping, I have never done this type of hill training before. Would really appreciate some advice here.

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Michael, I’m actually writing a piece now for October’s newsletter about hill training so will include some advice on this in answer to your question. Please sign up here and you will receive newsletter to inbox at the beginning of each month. Cheers.

  24. James says:

    These programmes are just a joy. Started with the sub 30 5k plan 2 years ago and have just progressed to the 18 min plan. Thanks Matt for the superb work you have put into this. Having worked through the plans over the past couple of years I very much echo the comments of some others in that treat the recovery runs at a pace that is comfortable for you, don’t worry at all about pace on these days or the long run. Keep all the pace focus on those magic breakthrough sessions and amazing things happen!

    • Matt Matt says:

      Thanks for your comment, James. It’s always great to hear feedback from people who have had positive results with the training plans and you have done really well in knocking a big chunk off your PB. Congrats and thanks again. Cheers!

  25. TMS says:

    Thx Matt. Just did it (50 yo male)…19.54 on our 5km time trial route. It’s net slightly downhill for 3 km then goes into a steep up and down and finishes slight uphill for the final mile. Ending is soo tough. I did 1.5 cycles and ran a 20.02 but went <20min after 1 more cycle. Brilliant 5km program. Thanks again.

  26. Tom says:

    Thank you for this plan, followed it for 3 weeks and got a 19.36. I would say to people reading don’t be put off by the easy run pace, these are personal to you. Hit the speeds on the fast days then adjust your easy pace to a pace that suits you and your heart rate. I ran the easy runs around 8:30-9:00 which allowed me to recover well and hit all the speed runs.

  27. ES says:

    Hi Matt,

    Never been able to break under 20 till followed this plan. If I’m honest I was a bit sceptical but thought I’d give it a go. Was running about 22:30 after a period of unfitness and did sub-22 for two cycles and sub-20 for three and managed 19:26 yesterday.

    Thanks so much for these free plans! Moving on to the next level now.

  28. Gleb says:

    Can i run easy 10km instead of 30 min. easy to get to miles in?

  29. Joe Haughey says:

    i am 66 years old. Up until Covid i could run a sub 20 for 5k. My first 5k race in over a year was last week in a time of 22:15. My weight has done up since Covid from 12:00 to about 12st 9 lbs. I would love to be 11 stone. I love red wine, chocolate and cakes. Anyone help me? I have started the 1k reps and my best of 5 was the last one 4.20m per k.

  30. Jay says:

    Nice plan. However, the easy pace seems very intense. Surely that’s more of a tempo pace?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Thanks for the comment, Jay. Yes I have made a modification to the pacing for the easy run. You weren’t the only one to point this out so I have looked into it and made the changes necessary.

  31. Carl says:

    I did two cycles of the program and I manage to do my first under 20min 5k (19:49). I’m really happy about it ! Thank you for all thi

    s knowledge. I’m going to focus for sub 19 for my next goal !

  32. Carl says:

    I did two cycles of the program and I manage to my first under 20min 5k (19:49). I’m really happy about it ! Thank you for all thi

    s knowledge. I’m going to focus for sub 19 for my next goal !

  33. Jeff says:

    Sorry for this question but I still struggle with the abbreviations. On Wednesday during the recovery week, it says Tempo Run, inc. 3m @6:40. I’m confused on what “inc. 3m” means. Thanks

    • Julez says:

      For the tempo run it means 3 miles at 6:40minutes per mile. A tempo run is supposed to supposed to technically be just below your lactate threshold. This seems like a short run though. Usually the tempo runs I’ve seen are supposed to be longer. I would push this out to like 30 minutes.

  34. Kyle Munro says:

    It worked! Thank you Matt! Never broke 20 minutes until now, even in peak marathon training. Did about 2.75 cycles of this over the late winter and today ran 19:28 5k on a fairly ideal course. This is a great training plan.

  35. Nick Seger says:

    Checking back in after a long while. I followed this plan (loosely, as I was marathon and half marathon training) for the past year or so. I finally had the opportunity to run a really flat 5k time trial on a nice morning. I clocked in at 19:34 and feel like I have more to give on a day when I feel a little better and have real competition. It’s nice to be getting better at 35. Thanks for the plan, it works!

    Moving on to the sub 18:00 plan. Yikes!

  36. Jeff Stearns says:

    Matt, love all of these programs, extremely helpful! Started last spring with the 26 minute plan then the 24 minute and the 22 minute, good progress all the way! Lost a little over the winter so back to the 24 minute plan this spring, feeling good. The plans get me to run more often with more variety and more enjoyment also so they are great all around! Never run the intervals before and always avoided hills and sprinting but not anymore. Have a Garmin watch so that helps also, makes it easy to see the improvements in cadence and stride length when you incorporate the varied workouts. Would love to break 20 minutes one of these days for a 5K. At 55 years old not loving my chances of doing it but it’s fun to keep working at it.

  37. yannis says:

    Thank you mat… this was a quite well structured program…a little tough though…but it led to an almost 1 min improve from 20.34 to 19.35 for a 5k run, after a couple of weeks. Not bad i think for a 46 year old man…
    Once again thanks for the care to upload all this staff and make it publicly available…cheers from quarantined athens, greece….

    • Rebekah says:

      I hope it works for a 46 year old woman too! I have a 20.40 5K at the moment and would love to get sub 20

    • Rebekah says:

      I hope it works for a 46 year old woman too! I have a 20.40 5K at the moment and would love to get sub 20.

  38. james hall says:

    Hi matt do you offer any sort of online coaching? I just wondered if i can do 2 x 1km at 4m km but then i struggle afterwards is this ok or would you aim to keep all the splits the same? Also should the recovers be run or walk? also why is the long run sub 1 hour? Would it have a negative impact if i do 2 as i like the social with friends on a Sunday. Thanks for any help:)

  39. Vicky says:

    Hey Matt

    Wow looking at this, i love the structure! You really know your stuff! I am really keen to get a sub 20 5km.

    My question is what are your thoughts on doing additional swimming or strength training sessions and how often should you do them? I generally also swim 3-4 times a week (about 2km easy) and i like to do 2 strength sessions a week (arms and lower). I generally manage this all when running 3x 6km per week, but haven’t done the pushing.

    I am also trying to get my swimming speed up as i am looking to do some Biathol in September.

    Would love to hear your thoughts.

  40. Sam Marsh says:

    Hi Matt, wanted to just say a big thank you!! I have been stuck around the 21 to 22-minute mark for the past several months. However, since completing this plan over a 6 week period, I have managed to complete my first 5k at 19.47. I don’t think I have ever commented online, but wanted to just say a big thank you!

  41. Jake Cornito says:

    Today I broke the 20min 5km barrier, my garmin time is 19:31 and in the strava is 19:28.

  42. Ben says:

    This plan is quality. Started running again in Jan (last serious stuff was a slooow 4:30 marathon back in Nov 19, my only ever one) and I had a pb of 20:33 for 5k.that year. Took an easy week at start of Jan to build miles up then ran this program. Felt like I’d never break 20 as the 1km splits with 90s felt so hard, ran today and smashed it 19:15 after one cycle! Amazing program.

  43. Dan says:

    Hi Matt – I’m injury prone and only able to run every other day. I note some other comments you made about this but am I better sticking to 4 weeks and just making some of the easy runs extra rest days, or would I be better to do the whole programme but take 8 weeks? Thanks

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Dan, the key sessions are really the speed interval ones but all have their place in the plan. The danger of sticking to four weeks and changing easy runs to rest days would mean that you would spend a larger percentage of the week running high intensity in proportion to the rest of the sessions. Considering the issue potential my approach would probably be to stretch the plan our slightly to 6-8 weeks. That way you would fit in all the sessions and give yourself time to recover. Good luck and let us know how you get on. Cheers.

  44. Manuel Alejandro says:

    Hello there, i am in doubt, long run , how many km you refers to 10-15 , how many?
    I want to try your sub20 minutes plan

  45. Kyle M says:

    Just wanted to thank you for putting together a great program! I’m 41 and have always been in decent shape but NEVER considered myself to be a runner by any stretch of imagination. That is until COVID struck and running became an outlet to maintain my sanity. Between March and October, I got my legs underneath me and was able to put together a PB of 21:37. I began following your program before Halloween and just finished the Knoxville Turkey Trot in 19:17!

    I’m now looking at 18 minutes the same way I was looking at sub-20 when I initially found your website….possibly possible! It will take longer than 5 weeks, no doubt, but I’m excited to get after it! Thanks again!

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Kyle, thank you for your comment. It’s always nice to hear positive feedback on the plans. Really chuffed you have found them useful. We’re the same age and I can just about still manage the 18 one now so you should go for it! 🙂 Good luck and let us know how you get one. Cheers!

  46. David S says:

    Thanks for the great resource. Previous PB for the 5km was 21:47 but after a couple cycles I saw huge gains and ran a 19:48 yesterday. Another satisfied customer! 🙂

  47. Pedro Caraslindas says:

    Dear Matt,

    My name is Pedro and I’m a Tennis Coach and a Personal Trainer and by the end of the month of August, I’ve decided to participate in a 5K Charity Virtual Race with a personal goal of running it with a time below 20min.. The race date was anyday during the first week of October meaning that I had basically one month to get ready for it!

    With a basic training my PB was 20:46min.. but then I did some research and I found your website and your specific training sessions for the Sub 20 Minute 5k.

    I’ve started your Sub 20 Minute 5K training plan with three weeks to go.. I’ve managed to do 3 weeks of the training plan and with 2 days to go I’ve hit a 19:39min mark (PB). Two days later, on the race day, I did a time of 19:52min.

    I was so happy with my marks as this race meant a lot to me and to my cause and I end up winning the all thing with the fastest time!!

    So, I would like to send a BIG THANK YOU as I couldn’t do it without your knowledge and your specific training sessions.

    Congratulations on your website and thank you for putting all this together. I’m an athlete, I love training and I found this plan very enjoyable:)

    Thanks again and best wishes,

    Pedro Caraslindas

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Pedro, that is fantastic news, well done. I’m pleased the plans worked well for you and I hope you raised lots of money for a very worthy cause.
      Well done.

      • Pedro Caraslindas says:

        Thanks very much Matt! We end up raising the most funds with a total of £1,225!!

        Best regards,


  48. Dimitris says:


    I am a 40 year old male and in August I run my first 5k at 25m 56sec. I did some some more runs and I managed to improve my time up to 21m 53s. At that point I start the following the sub 20 training program and last Saturday, after the completion of one training cycle, I attempt a test run and my time improved by almost 50sec. So new PB now is 21m 04ssec. I am very happy with the result and I will do 1-2 more cycles and after that I will attempt to run again the distance.
    I believe that the program is really helpful so thank you very much. I think that I will be able to run the distance in under 20 minutes.
    What I understood from my running is that I have to improve my endurance in order to sustain the 4min/km pace.
    My times for each km were: 1. 3:52:5, 2. 3:59:4, 3. 4:19:1, 4. 4:28:6 and 5. 4:24:7

  49. Dimitris says:

    I am a 40 year old male and my first 5k run was at August and the time was 25m 56s. I managed to improve my time up to 21m 53s almost a month ago. At that point I understood that I have to follow a specific program in order to achieve my target (sub 20m 5k).
    I start working at this program and when I completed one cycle, I tried yesterday a test run and I managed to improve my time by 50 sec (new PB 21m 04s).
    I will continue with 1-2 more cycles and I will try again. It is getting a litttle harder now…Thanks

  50. Patrick says:

    I’m a 25 year old male – followed this plan with some minor adjustments for 2 months, (didn’t have a baseline 5k time but ran a 5 mile (~8km) race at the start of the cycle at 36:52 , so baseline 5k was probably around 22:30ish. I ran a little in school and have jogged to keep fit over the years but never really took it seriously until the pandemic gave me a lot more free time!
    Followed the plan with some adjustments. I ended up with a 20:45 in a time trial on the track (on my own – no other races going on where I live). I think in a race with some adrenaline And competition I could probably hit 20:35ish or maybe a bit faster.
    I can hit the speed sessions at a little faster than race pace (3:04 average time for 6X800), 3:55 average time for the km repeats with the rest intervals as prescribed by yourself. I’ve progressed to running about 30 miles a week (4-5 times, longest run being ~10 miles, but have had a few longer runs). I thought at this level I’d have been able to break 20 but I knew quite quickly in my time trial it wasn’t gonna happen. I came through 1km at 4:01 feeling fairly tired and then slowed quite significantly for km 2-4 before hitting a 3:55 in the final Km – certainly felt like a race effort by the end, I was totally gassed. so it seems I have the speed but not the stamina. I’ve incorporated some tempos into my workout but was just wondering what distance and pace I should be going at for those? I’ve tried all different types (3 miles at 7 min/mile, 5 miles at 7:30) 2 X 2 miles at 7min/mile. Just wondering what area of my training you think I can specifically target to try and break it within the next cycle or two?

    Thanks! Looking forward to trying a sub 40 10k plan once I finally get over this hump !

  51. Jack says:

    Just wanted to say thank you very much for this training plan! I am 37 and my PB was 20:20 couple of years ago. This year it was closer to 20:40. Decided to give this plan a go and after one full cycle boom 19:56!!!
    Will defo check out other plans now. Thanks again

  52. Jeremy says:


    What speed is defined for slow/steady?please assuming easy/steady is a bit quicker at 7:15p/m


  53. James says:

    So for a 30 minute run you just run for 30 minutes I am confused?

  54. Vítor Caldeira says:

    After 3 weeks of training and in my fourth week of training i was able to run the 5k distance in 19m35s
    Now i will try to run a sub 19 😀
    i was never able to crack the sub 20m during my previous trainings so iam very please with the result

  55. Olivier says:

    PB was 22:00 on the 5k. Did 2 months of this programm (about 5-6 weeks of the actual training, because 6x a week was too much for me) and I scored a 19:18 on my 5k race yesterday. Thanks !!

  56. Julez says:

    Thank you for putting together these plans. I’m sincere between the 22 and sub 20 plan right now so I’ve combined the two plans and averaged the set times to make the workouts challenging, but not kill me.

    The one thing you mention is the 1hr max distance runs. I’m a half marathon runner who is also trying to improve their 5k time since those are the most popular races. I generally run 13 miles every weekend (1hr:50min)ish and stick to 3 days a week of 5k training with two strength training days.

    Do you feel this could be overtraining since I’m throwing in the longer distance? How would you change the 5k training plan for someone who doesn’t want to give up a longer run each week?

    • Nathan says:

      I am in much the same training place as you are. I typically tend to be injury prone too. So what I’ve done is alternate, running a little over 1 hr, about 7-8 miles one week and then a longer 11-13 the alternate week for my long runs

  57. Stan says:

    Thank you for an excellent article! I am currently able to run 2 km under 4 min pace but can’t hold it further.
    What can I do to improve the speed endurance? Thank you.

  58. Roger says:

    This is fantastic and thank you for providing this resource for free!

    I’m quite injury prone and have learned that it’s best for me to run only every other day to avoid injury.

    I’d love to know the 2-3 intense sessions you think are most vital to the 20 minute goal. Sitting on 20.15 currently!

    Many thanks

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Roger, I too have recently arrived at the every-other day running due to injuries (and age) so I understand your question very well! In my view the key sessions are the 400/800/1km sessions; the fartlek and hills are important but probably not as important as the others.
      I’m glad you are finding the plans useful and good luck with your training. Cheers.

  59. Jack says:

    Hi Matt, how long do you recommend that I stick with this plan before doing a 5K pb attempt?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Jack, if you are hitting the times for the interval sessions and getting through them okay then I would give it a go after 2-3 cycles. If you don’t quite make it you can take have an easy week before repeating another 2-3 cycles and trying again. Cheers.

  60. Peter says:


  61. Flynn says:

    Hi Matt, I’ve been following your programs for quite some time now but is it just me or is the set pace for the “easy run” too hard? The easy runs have just been feeling hard when running 07:15 p/m.. When running my own easy pace I run at about 9:17 p/m, that’s what I consider easy and steady with my heart rate in the low part of zone 3.

    Also, when should I test myself to see if my times have improved? Currently I’m in week 3 of my 2nd cycle, should I test this week or next week? And what is a good replacement for hillsprints because we don’t have any hills in my area. Thanks alot in advance 🙂

    • Chris says:

      I had the exact same questions – he replied to my comment a few questions below.

    • Luke says:

      I’m in the same boat – hell the avg. pace for my 5k PB was 6:51 min/mile, I’d definitely consider 7:15-7:30 to be quite hard! An article from runners connect advocates for 55%-75% of your 5k pace as your easy run for optimal aerobic development – not that you can’t go higher, but it seems that aerobic development plateaus at 75%. However that does feel a bit slow. I don’t know! I can keep up (just about or maybe almost) with the speed workouts, but the easy run just does not feel easy for me.

  62. Axel says:

    Hi! I’ve been running for about 1.5 months. In comparison to how it is laid out on this plan, I would think I am overtraining, hahaha. I started at 5k in 30 mins, but to be fair, I do not count that. The next run I did a few days later was 27:17. Today, I was very happy to run a 22:32. Anyways, what I’ve been doing is this: 8×0.5km on Mondays and Thursdays, 5×0.8km on Tuesdays and Fridays, 3×1.6km on Wednesdays, rest on Saturdays, and a 5k run on Sundays. I do most of my runs on a treadmill, except for the 5k, and each session I increase the speed by 0.2 in km/hr. Is this too much? How can I know?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Axel, it sounds like your plan is working well for you as your times are coming down significantly. If you have found a plan that works for you and you are getting what you want out of it then that is great. There is a lot of interval work in your training plan, these are great for getting fitter and increasing speed but do have a big impact on the body (especially on a treadmill) so you should ensure that you allowing more recovery time. Also, speaking from my own experience, I would say that it’s important to keep the mind fresh just as much as it is the body; the benefit of following a plan that has variety over 3-4 weeks leaves less scope for the rot of over-training to set in. Good luck and let us know how you progress.

  63. John says:

    Started this plan plan 4 weeks ago went out today to run the 3 mile tempo and ended up doing 18.39 for 5K. Oh and Iam 59yrs young

  64. Sam says:

    Hi Matt, is it correct to do 5x1km runs? Just to double check as other plans have less reps. Thanks

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Sam, yes that is correct; I’ve found that replicating the target pace and target distance but with the recovery period included after each rep was a great session for making sure you are ready for the PB attempt. My philosophy is that ideally the race/PB attempt shouldn’t be ‘easy’ because you have trained yourself to such a level in preparation.

      • Sam says:

        Thanks Matt. I found them tough, as expected – managed to do 3x below target pace and one at 4:20, plus a couple minutes lying down!

        Great programme thanks – faster than I’ve ever been.

  65. Anonymous says:

    Hi, was just wondering whether we are supposed to run strides after the easy and long runs since I used to do a lot after every run
    Thank you

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi, running some strides is not something I’ve done after a run before. Sometime before a run as part of the warm up but if it helps with your warm down process and you feel it works for you then you should continue.

  66. Chris says:

    Hi, this plan is really helpful and I’m making great progress. I’m currently on cycle 2 of the plan and I’m struggling with a couple of things. After my first cycle, I failed to run a sub-20 and got to around the 2.5k mark before slowing down to around a 6.40 pace. During training, I’m struggling to maintain 7.30 pace on the easy runs without really upping the effort (and then it’s not so easy!) – I usually level out around 7.50. Does this mean I’m not ready for sub-20? I can struggle through the break-through sessions okay but my legs just feel heavy and tired after those sessions and I struggle to do the easy runs at 7.30.

    Last question, when should I schedule my sub-20 5k attempt? I’m not doing an official race. Would this be the final Saturday in week 4 or the Sunday of week 3? I want to make sure my legs are fresh but still have the optimal tension to run a fast 5k.

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Chris, it’s a tricky one because your first attempt suggests you are somewhere in between the sub 20 and the 22 minute plan. There are arguments for both staying with this one and dropping down to the 22 minute plan.
      You obviously have the speed in your legs as you can get through the speed interval sessions which are the real key ones for making the time and it sounds like it’s the speed endurance that you need. As long as you are not putting your body under too much stress and are recovering properly etc., my advice would be to stick with the sub 20 plan for another cycle or two. The speed endurance will come with time. You could perhaps add in one or two more rest days during the plan to aid recovery at the expense of the easy runs.
      If you are planning a 5k attempt within the plan I opt for the end of week 3, but drop the Hill session that week and replace with easy run or fartlek session, nothing too strenuous.

      Hope this helps,

      • Alex says:

        This is really interesting as it’s the situation I also find myself in! I have the speed to complete the intervals but am struggling with the endurance element over the 5km race. @Matt, would it make sense to incorporate some longer speed intervals to aid speed endurance? Ie 3 x 1.6km repeats at the sub20 speed? Or is this a bad idea?

        • Alex says:

          Forgot to say.. thank you Matt for the fantastic plan you’ve provided here. I’ve increased my v02 max on my Garmin by 4 points in just 4 weeks so the plan is definitely having a positive affect already.

        • Matt Matt says:

          Hi Alex, pleased you are finding the plans useful, good to hear. Re the speed endurance element I think to incorporate some longer speed endurance runs into the cyclical plan in these situations is a good idea. Check out the plans for the 10k training on the site and take a couple of sessions from there. The pace might need to be adjusted down very slightly but incorporating a few 1 mile or 2km speed interval sessions should have a real benefit on endurance. Let me know how it goes or if you have any further queries.
          Good luck with your training.

          • Chris says:

            Update: Just managed a 20.30 5k – I didn’t feel great today since my legs felt a bit heavy/sluggish and didn’t feel very light/springy. Last month, my PR was 21.30, so I’ve shaved a minute off within one cycle 🙂 What’s your thoughts on when to go for my next attempt? I don’t think I’ve got time to do a full cycle… (will be returning to training for my sport soon and can’t do both unfortunately.)

          • Matt Matt says:

            Hi Chris, if you’ve not time to complete another full cycle then I suggest you follow week 1 and 2 in full, take off a couple of days recovery/taper and then try again. Good luck.

  67. Sam says:

    Epic plan! I used to be fit a couple of years ago but haven’t trained much in past two years. Ran a 20.42 (on grass) 5 weeks ago as a test and today I ran 19.24 on grass again after doing this plan. Thanks !

  68. Daniel says:

    I found this training plan really good. In one cycle of this plan I improved my 5km time from 21:48 to 19:24. I struggled with the first few runs but started to manage things better after a few days. I’ll be starting the sub 18 plan soon. Thanks for the help Matt !

  69. Jay says:

    Why does the sub 20min plan do 5 x 1km, when the 22 does 3 x 1km and the 16 and 18 do 4 x 1km?
    The jump from the 22 to the 20 seems SIGNIFICANT. Was this a mistype?

  70. Rich says:

    I’ve just managed to take my 5km down from 22:20 to 21:30. My fastest ever km is 4:03. Would this program be too advanced for me as I’m not sure I could manage 5x 4:00/km?

  71. Lizzy says:

    Ever since schools been closed I have been lazy and not completing the workouts my coach is sending me. For one they are too hard and have very little recovery time. This plan for hitting a sub 5K is perfect! It’s not too hard to follow and I know for a fact that I can get my 5K time (20:16) under for the upcoming cross country season!!

  72. Nick says:

    I’m finally been able to consistently make it under time for all intervals with the prescribed rest times/intervals. I’m looking forward to running a 5K and seeing if I can break 20:00. I’ll probably do one on the track by the end of the month. It’ll also be the first time this year running in race flats, so hopefully that will help. Will report back with results.

    • Daniel J says:

      Hi. My 5k PB is 20.44. I’ve started the sub20k plan and I’m on week 4, but just completed my tempo run, in the pouring rain and my 3rd mile was 7:05, the previous two were 6:38 & 6:42, this has frustrated me. I suspect I put a lot into first mile, being an incline.
      Maybe I was expecting too much too soon. I really hope, if I continue this plan, this will improve my time.

  73. Ados says:

    Very glad to have found this site. I’ve managed to go from 23:36 in late Feb to 21:47 in early April following the advice of doing a combination of interval, tempo runs and longer easy runs.

    I’ll be trying out this plan, as well as some casual non-contact sport I play on the side, and I’ll see if I can get close to a sub 20mins. I struggle so much at the moment just to get 4:20min/km, so let’s see if I can make the movie to break another 20secs per km… That’s massive. I’ll report back later.

  74. Kjetil S. says:

    This program helped me improving from my PB of 21:33 to 19:30 after 2 1/2 cycles of the program.

    When I started the first cycle in October 2019 my weekly mileage had not been high enough, so I had to bail out a bit over half way through as doing speed work 3 days a week gave me the shin splints from hell. After slowly increasing my weekly mileage over a few months I restarted the program, put a few more easy runs in between the intervals and successfully completed 2 cycles. On March 21, 2020 I was supposed to race but it was cancelled due to COVID-19, so I ran a 5K course wearing my Garmin Forerunner and clocked 5k at 19:30 without pushing too hard. I was ecstatic when I crossed the finish line and saw the time. I had to turn 40 before I finally cracked the magical 20!

    Thank you very much, Matt!

    • James says:

      Hi – what sort of pace did you run your easy runs at, and how did you work the interval sessions prior to being ‘ready’ for a race at your target paces? ie. did you aim to complete the 5x1km at just short of your target pace, of did you complete what you could of each interval at the target pace and then stop? I can currently do a 21:06 5k, but know i won’t yet be able to run 5x1km at 4min KMs… how did you approach the ‘failed’ runs?

      • Nick says:

        I wouldn’t quit a workout because you didn’t hit your time on each interval. I would complete the whole workout as best as you can and then just keep track and try to do better the next time. I did this and failed many times, either because I didn’t run fast enough to make the time or rested too long in between intervals. Personally I think resting more in between so you can hit the times is better, then decrease the rest time each week. Over the course of a few months I’ve been able to get all the times under and not have the rest be over. Good luck.

  75. Chilli Anderson says:

    Feeling very inspired, helped me as a novice runner achieve personal bests. Most useful tool I’ve ever used. Googlemaps app is useful for recording.

  76. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I just wanted to say that my PB before was 20:25, and after 4 weeks, it was 19:22. Great training plan, at least from the perspective of an 18 yr old.

  77. Kristian Lees-Bell says:

    Hi Matt, great plans but can you explain why it’s only the 20 minute plan which requires a tempo run and 5 x 1 km? All the previous are just 3 x 1 km and have no tempo’s ?

    • Jules says:

      I have the same question, even more confusing is that the 18 and 16 training plans only have 4 x 1k.

  78. Roger Chen says:

    How long and far should the long runs be (how many km and time)?

  79. Ronan says:

    Hi Matt, thanks for this plan. Previous 5k best was 22:28. Did one cycle of your sub 22 to hit that and then 2 cycles of this before attempting my sub 20 and I ran 19.29. Delighted to hit this. Next up; 40 min 10k!

  80. Leoanrd says:

    Good Night Everyone,

    Ran my first 5k Sunday and clocked 20:36
    I also started the plan today. How long should I be on the plan before running a 5k competition again?

  81. Joshua Edwards says:

    My PB is 23:16, I hope to one day get sub 20 in the 5k.

  82. Andrey Benassi says:

    Hi, Matt!
    At which pace should I run 5km test? My PB is 21:54, but actually I don’t know if I can run the 5km sub20.
    I’m struggling to get sub 4/km pace at 400/800/1km, is the 5km run (to see where I’m at) necessary?
    There is any consideration of which pace should I run to test? I’m afraid to run at certain pace and then have to stop,


  83. Jon says:

    I finally got under 20!! 19:41!! I started my first cycle of your plan in July this year. Did one cycle, had a horrible and hot 5k attempt, then took a week to recoup, did another cycle, then recouped for four weeks only doing one speed session per week, then did one more cycle than ended yesterday with my last 5k sub 20 attempt of this year and I’m happy to say it went great. Your plan was instrumental. I started with a PR of 20:26 which was in February this year. I had two prs in the 20 teens in Sept and October. Best advice is to stick with it. Like everyone says the workouts do get easier. By my third cycle it wasn’t a question of whether or not I would get the necessary times in the workouts with jogs for rests, whereas when I started in July I had to modify the rests to be longer, and I wasn’t hitting all the times. Stick with it and keep plugging away. I also didn’t know how valuable fartleks were! I feel they really helped to increase speed. I tried to not miss any days but in each cycle I did have to miss 1-2 easy recovery days. Thanks again from this old 40 plus year old guy who has had a dream of breaking 20 minutes for over 20 years!

  84. Kevin says:

    I can do the 5 x 1km intervals at a 3:50km pace but for whatever reason can’t do the 800m workout.. I also obliterate the 400m in 72 seconds and feel like I can do more sets. I am assuming its all mental.. any advice or ideas on this? The 800m workout feels like the hardest and I always give up after the 3rd or 4th rep.

  85. lorrie says:

    Hi Matt – do you have feelings either way regarding indoor/outdoor running? I live in the mountains and we tend to lean towards treadmills in the winter months. And on that note, any thoughts on tweaks for elevation? My 5k PR is 22:12 at sea level…I’m training at 10k’ and intend to race at about 6k’. Any feedback would be appreciated!

    • Henry says:

      Hi Matt, I have just run my first 5k of 20.17 with no training apart from football on Wednesdays. I really want to take at least 1min of this time, if I don’t have access to an athletics track do you have any tips for the interval/ speed training? And how long do you reckon it will take to cut 1min off.
      Many thanks

      • Callum Timpson says:

        Hi Henry,
        I also don’t have access to an athletics track so I have had to improvise and find something locally, best bet is go out for a run and track it with Strava (or similar). This gives you an idea of distances of estate loops or landmarks near you which you can use as a reference point. For example a few weeks ago I realised a loop of part of the estate where I live is exactly half a mile, (800m) so I run this loop on my interval sessions. It’s obviously not as good as using a running track and there are variables to consider but I find it easier doing the sessions this way than on normal pavement/road runs. On Strava you can also create your own segments which can be really helpful.
        With reference to taking a minute off your time, if you haven’t consistently run before I would recommend doing 3 cycles of the sub 20 to get your body used to the mileage and consistency of running. It should take 2/3 cycles for it to get used to recovering in a short period of time rather than having a whole week (like you would when recovering from football). Don’t be afraid to utilise rest days instead of running the 30min easy if you feel you need it – running 5/6 times a week isn’t always easy. You will probably find the pacing quite easy come the end but it’s more getting used to the volume of training. After this have a week or two of just easy/recovery runs (easy meaning you could hold a conversation when running if you had to). Then run a test 5k to see what your best is and take it from there. If you are getting towards 19.00 then take a look at the sub 18 plan, if that looks too daunting find a happy medium between the sub 20 & sub 18 (this is what I will be doing after I finish this cycle).
        I hope this helps and if you have any questions then let me know!

  86. David Watling says:

    My PB is 21.15 – haven’t started this training plan, I attempted a fast 1 km to finish my latest slower 5km (23.59) and ran the last 1 km in 3.51. Seems like a huge difference between 21.15 and 19.59.

  87. KANHU says:


  88. Niall says:

    I don’t mean to be “that guy” but the very first session is 5x1km at 4mins/km with 90s jogging in between. Honestly, if you can do that you run a sub 20mins 5k already – your issue is psychological, not physical. I’m consistently running 21mins/5km and couldn’t achieve even 4x1km at 4mins each. Maybe this is the training program to progress from sub 20 to sub 18 mins?

    • sue says:

      I agree

    • Rodger Bandjermin says:

      disagree. Can do the 1km intervals but 5k pb is 20:50

    • Idomaths says:

      lol what? 5x4min=20min + 4x90sec = 26 min

      • yousuckatmaths says:

        That only applies if you stand still while resting; the plan says to jog between the intervals. If you jog 90 seconds at 6 mph, you end up doing about 240 metres. After doing the first four 1k intervals (4 min each) and their respective jogs (1.5 min each), you’d be at 4960 metres in 22 minutes. So this workout (done properly) involves running a nearly 22 minute 5k and then immediately running another 1k at 20 minute race pace.

    • Lorrie says:

      Disagree. I can do the intervals…easily. My PR is 22:10.

    • Andrey Benassi says:

      My PB is 21:54 and to me is so hard that I changed the order… I can’t run at 4:00 during 1km, I’m starting the 2nd week and my plan right know is to do the 10×400 at 6:15, and as I can see the progress, start doing the 800m and 1km.

    • Nick says:

      This is a good point. I started with the 10x400s, then did the 6x800s, then the 5x1km. I think easing into the longer distance is helpful. Also, for newbies who don’t do speed work regularly ,I’d recommend only doing one speed workout a week for the first couple of weeks. Otherwise, you might be increasing your risk of injury. Like with any running goal, the key is to consistently get the work in at paces faster than your goal pace, without overdoing it, and let the body adapt over time.

    • Simon says:

      What nonsense

  89. Rob P says:

    Hi Matt, going to give your plan ago looks great! Can you explain what a Tempo run is?

    • Niall says:

      It’s very similar to Fartlek – say a 30mins run at around 10k pace with faster intervals here and there. Could be running up a hill or just running faster for a couple of minutes and then back to 10k pace.

      • Marlon says:

        I honestly I include these into every “easy run.” Since I’m running “easy” if I see a hill, I just burst up it at tempo run pace, maybe even race pace, and return back to normal run pace. I don’t see why every run can’t be that way. Especially if you are running the same routes.

    • Pete says:

      A tempo run is not similar to a fartlek. A tempo run is running at just under your lactate threshold pace i.e. the pace at which lactate acid begins to accumulate quicker than your body can clear it. Once lactate builds up it stops your muscles working properly (legs will feel heavy) and you slow down or stop. (You can normally tell when you cross the threshold as your breathing changes from controlled to breathing quickly). By training at just under this level, you are aiming to moving the point at which lactate builds up so you will be able to sustain a faster speed.
      The threshold pace is around 20 secs slower than your 5k pace. So if your current 5k pace is 6.30/ mile your threshold or tempo pace will be around 6.40/6.45. To do a tempo run, warmup properly then run at this pace for 3-5 miles (build up over a few weeks). It’s important to keep a steady pace (so the opposite of a fartlek) so do it on a flat course – too fast and you’ll be working in the lactate zone (so watch that your breathing doesn’t suddenly change), too slow and you won’t be near enough to it – either of these will make it ineffective.

      This might not seem much slower than your 5k race pace. But as your 5k speed is generally over the threshold, when you race it builds up. By running those few seconds slower, you will avoid this so should be able to run for significantly (relatively speaking) longer. You should finish feeling like you’ve had a hard run but could do more. Hope that helps.

      • Robbie Lambie says:

        Yes a tempo run is running quite hard and just slightly slowly than your race pace. In other words not quite flat out but pretty brisk (95%). If your pb for 5km is 21 mins, then run around 22 – 23 mins and possibly for up to 5 miles or so.

  90. brij ravinder says:

    was here on 26th sept 2018. used the 20min plan, tweaked the long run and easy run duration. ran a little faster for the speed workout. exhilarating. ran yesterday at malaysian open masters athletics, timed 5000m, 18min10.2sec. just simply happy. next race, asian masters athletics at kuching,malaysia dec2 to dec7 2019. will post again end of the year. goal 17min 5000m. its all about patience and consistency.

  91. Jon says:

    Thanks for the plan. I had a couple of questions. Alot of things you read say to only do intervals once a week. Is this a safe plan to follow? Sounds like a lot of running at near max effort. Secondly, you mention to do your PB attempt at the end of the second or third week? Should that be the end of the fourth (recovery) week? Seems at the end of the second or third week you’ll just be too tired. Thanks again

    • Jon says:

      Answering my own questions :). I’m almost done with my third week of the plan. There has been a big difference between the interval attempts in the first week and the third week! For the 1000m workout, I wasn’t able to jog any of the rest intervals in the first week, and I had to lengthen two of the rest intervals to .25 mile rather than 90 seconds, and only 2 of the 5 1000m intervals were under 4min, the other 3 ranged from 4:02-4:09. But, on the third week, after the Hill Sprint session on Monday, on Tuesday I was able to do all 5 1000m under 4min with all 4 rests at 90 second jogs!!! I was happy with the improvement! So while the efforts are a little intense, they do seem to reap some good benefits, and they get easier in the second/third weeks. Regarding the timing of the PR attempt, I found the answer in one of your replies below where you said “The fourth week is largely how I would treat the race week, you don’t want to go too hard in that week but then again you want to do enough to keep things ticking over”. Thanks for the plan, I have a 5k scheduled for next Saturday, fingers crossed! 🙂

      • Marlon says:

        A couple things here.
        Honestly? You should already be able to consistently hit 21 minutes before attempting this plan. I know the plan says you should be able to hit 22. 5 x1km at 6:25 is already cruising for it to be your first thing, but if you area already at 21 minute fitness, it’s no problem then. But coming off of anything above that? It’s a challenge.

        The other thing? You’ll greatly benefit, as you have, in the first 4 weeks of speed work. That’s just how it works. If you are to gain any benefit from them, it’s going to be in just the first 2, or 3 sessions. Anything beyond 8 weeks, they say, is diminishing returns and can even drop your performance, as your body gets burned out. So only do these about 4-6 weeks out from your event. That’s why the plan only goes up to week 4.

  92. Rob says:

    I’ve been trying to get under 20 mins in parkrun for a while now regularly getting under 21 !! My best to date is 20.08 which isn’t to far away but I am a big guy weighing in at almost 16st so do you honestly think if I shed a bit of weight I’d be closer to 19 ??
    Thanks Rob

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Rob, I couldn’t say for sure obviously, but if you are able to run under 21 minutes at almost 16st then I don’t see why you couldn’t achieve your target after losing a little weight. Weight/fat loss and following these training plans were the two biggest factors in me taking my time from a 25 min 5k to a sub 16 min 5k when I started running a few years ago now. Cheers and good luck!

  93. Med says:

    So my PR was 20:39 on February. And ran two other 5K races after that at 21 sub. But I started following this plan two weeks ago. And by the end of second week. I had a 5k on Saturday. And I did my regular schedule the same week. I didn’t think I would do good but I ran at 19:36! I surprised myself. I did another race night time same day and ran 19:07 but the course was short , it was 3.0 miles. So since I didn’t finish one cycle. Do I start a new cycle with 18 sub? Or transition to 18 sub starting from 3rd week since Ive only done 2 weeks on sub 20?

  94. Kahn says:

    Hello Matt
    Thanks for posting this training plan. It give me the idea how to incorporate this plan to my running schedule to get the sub 20 5K. I’ve just passed the trial run 21 min 5K 2 days ago.

  95. Howard says:

    Thx for plan. Curious – I live in Florida. I calculated the nearest “hill” is highway overpass, which is probably 3-4% grade! Can still get 40sec uphill, but not same as steep hill.
    What are your thoughts of bleacher workout instead?

  96. Chris Simm says:

    Hi Matt,
    I ran a sub 20 minute 5k last September, but can’t seem to recapture that form (could be because I am 40). The easy runs at 7 mins per mile aren’t that easy. Running at that pace would give you a close to 21 minute 5k, which isn’t that far off the Holy grail of a 20 minute 5k. Surely running alternate days at that pace would just wear you out in a couple of weeks?

  97. Chris says:

    Thank you for the training plan. I am really enjoying it and have completed one full cycle plus a week. What pace do you suggest for the easy 30 minutes runs? More importantly, what is your recommendation for tapering before a Saturday 5k? I have a race in a couple weeks so won’t be able to finish another cycle. Is the fourth week how you would treat race week?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Chris, pleased you are enjoying the plan. The fourth week is largely how I would treat the race week, you don’t want to go too hard in that week but then again you want to do enough to keep things ticking over.I find that tapering is quite a personal thing so this is how I do it and it works for me but you might need to experiment a little. Good luck with your race, let us know how it goes.
      Re the pace, don’t worry too much about that just something around the 07:00 min mile mark.

    • steph says:

      I actually think you should run your slow/easy runs slower than suggested – like 8-9 minute pace or slower. I ran a lot of fast 5K’s in college and our easy days were about 8 minute per mile pace, speedwork was faster than this and my PR was just under 18 minutes, ran a lot of 18:0-somethings. Currently I’m just getting back into this, have been marathon training and now that the marathon is over a fast 5K is my goal, and I’m planning to keep my easy runs at 9 minute pace actually. Just another perspective if you feel around 7 seems too fast. Read Matt Fitzgerald’s book 80/20 running to understand why running a good amount of mileage slower while running 20% faster is the optimal mix of training to increase speed. otherwise I think the speedwork sessions in this plan are right-on to get you where you want to be.

    • Chris says:

      I have great news! I finally broke the 20 minutes barrier. My Garmin had me at 19:51. Course was a little longer but finished in 19:59:57 🙂 The training plan really helped a ton. For those flirting with the 20 minute mark, here’s a few things I’d like to share that helped me:
      – Don’t neglect the mental aspect. I wrote down 20 steps outlining the entire morning of race, starting from when I planned to wake up to how I’d run the race, and visualized myself at certain points in course. Breaking down the course into sections (i.e. miles), instead of focusing on the end result worked wonders.
      – I increased mileage to a max of 30 per week over the course of this training plan. Since January, I’ve average 20 miles per week, but only had ran 28 miles in all of February due to an injury. Soon after it healed (no running/hiking for 2 weeks) I started Matt’s plan in early March.
      – Diet and sleep was good. Eliminated all processed sugar for all of March.
      – My easy day pace was closer to 7:50-8:25 most weeks, but adjusted based on how I felt.
      – Race fell on a Saturday. I ran two days before including a day of slightly easier 4 x 400s, and long run afterward on Sunday. Legs felt great. Will kick a little earlier at next 5k in May.
      Good luck everyone! Train hard and you can do it! Thanks again Matt!

  98. Kitty says:

    Hi Matt, just about to get started on your sub 20 plan next week!
    I’ve been using your sub 22 plan since the end of February and have brought my parkrun down for 23.30 to 20.54, and managed to run a 5mile pb of 35.27 off the back of the plan, so a huge THANK YOU!❤️ Looking forward to what the next training cycle has in store . What’s your best recovery/ injury avoidance advice?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Kitty, well done on improving your times so much, that’s a great effort! My best advice for recovery/ injury avoidance is really boring and sensible and is just to make sure you factor in the breaks and recovery periods into your training. This is something I have struggled with in the past and subsequently learnt from experience that they really are crucial not just for your body to recover but also for the mind.
      Good luck with the next plan! Let us know how it goes.

  99. Kieran says:

    Matt i did it! I broke 20mins. Have to say it was bloody hard. My pbs have progressively gone down from 22mins at Christmas to 19.55 today, thanks again for the plans! Anyone reading the comments, dont give up this is one of the hardest things ive done, but just stay consistent to the training, be patient and you will get there (eventually!) on to the next plan! Cheers, kieran

  100. Graeme says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks very much for the plan. I’m really enjoying having some structure and variety to my training.

    At the end of last year i set myself the goal of running a sub 20 minute 5km by the end of 2019. I ran a PB of 21:04 at parkrun on New year’s day but my times have been getting progressively slower since then, which is why i sought out a program to follow.

    I’m approaching the end of week 2 and enjoyingthe different exercises. Having read your guide and some of the feedback i am now wondering if i had been over doing it with the hard fast miles and not allowing more than a day or so recovery. I’m looking forward to week 4 of the plan and seeing how i feel afterwards.

    At what stage in the plan would you recommend a push for a PB?

  101. G says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks very much for the plan. I’m really enjoying having some structure and variety to my training.

    At the end of last year i set myself the goal of running a sub 20 minute 5km by the end of 2019. I ran a PB of 21:04 at parkrun on New year’s day but my times have been getting progressively slower since then, which is why i sought out a program to follow.

    I’m approaching the end of week 2 and enjoyingthe different exercises. Having read your guide and some of the feedback i am now wondering if i had been over doing it with the hard fast miles and not allowing more than a day or so recovery. I’m looking forward to week 4 of the plan and seeing how i feel afterwards.

    At what stage in the plan would you recommend a push for a PB?

  102. Robi says:

    hi matt, starting this plan from a ~22min PB. Would you recommend incorporating strides – either at the end of some of the breakthrough sessions or as part of a fartlek day – or is this something you’d avoid. Found them useful (I think) in past when focussing on longer distances…

  103. Jt says:

    I’m a fifteen year old girl. I’m in good shape and my 5k time is 21:50. If I follow this plan about how many months will it take to achieve a sub 20 minute 5k?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi, obviously difficult to provide a 100% accurate timescale as there are many variables involved, but saying that, I have known runners to progress from the 22 minute mark to the sub 20 minute 5k in 2-3 cycles of the plan. There is no right or wrong number though and you should listen to your body and not over-do it. Good luck and let us know how you get on.

    • 3- 4 months of steady training and you will get a new PB, YOU MAY FIND that once you get close to 20 mins that you platow for a little while. This is normal and if you continue with the training your next PR could be closer to 19:30 than 20 mins in less than 6 months. Most important though is to enjoy your running and then the times will come.

  104. Kieran says:

    Hi Matt, thanks so much for your plans I appreciate them a lot.
    Was wondering could you please elaborate a bit more on the tempo run in week 4? Should there be rests? Or is it straight 3 mile at 6.40 pace.

    Thanks again for these plans your a legend

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Keiran, yes sure: it should be 3 miles straight @6:40 pace without any breaks. But the trick is to do it in the middle of your run, so run a mile or so at a slower pace such as 7:30 to warm up then 3 miles at 6:40 pace with a mile or so to finish at 7:30 again. I’ll add this info to the page as well soon as it could be a bit clearer.
      Pleased you’re finding the plans helpful mate. Cheers.

  105. Jay says:

    Can the 30 min easy training runs be done on a treadmill? If so, would you add a bit of incline?
    I am just about to give this a go and last week did a pb of 21.58 so just inside the 22min mark.
    Regarding the Cross Training could that be indoor rowing?
    Just trying to work out how this could work for me.

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Jay, you can certainly do the easy runs on the treadmill. You could set a gradient to 0.5-1% to account for the lack of wind resistance. I wouldn’t increase the gradient to more than this as it would turn into a hill session! And yes, rowing would be a great cross training session to do. Cheers.

  106. Hannes says:

    From octobre 2018 to january 2019 I made it from a 32min5k to a 21:15min5k thanks to your plans and two colds (and my wife) that prevented overtraining.
    Now I am completly resting for a week, only concentrating on core workouts.
    Yes your training works.
    What also helped me:
    -heavy legs/breathing during speed sessions is ok, puking is not
    -leightweight trainers/flats become important at about 4:15min/k
    -stretching is important see mo farah video on youtube
    -loosing weight helps a lot
    -loosing weight is easy if your main food is bananas and water (but cheat days are important, too)
    -caffein is great to push you, just do not overdo it
    -hard sessions make you faster, fun sessions keep you rolling
    -forefoot running is NOT toerunning

    • Matt Matt says:

      Great feedback, thanks Hannes! The plans worked really well for you as you have managed to improve your times significantly, a big well done to you.

  107. Daire says:

    How long should the ’30 min easy’ be

  108. Eoin O Shea says:

    If I can already run 20:36 , how long do you think it will take me to get under 20:00

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Eion, not long at all I don’t think. I’d recommend following the plan for a couple of cycles and you should be ready. Good luck.

  109. Brodie says:

    I managed to run 20:33 after a year of following your plan from 23:14. I was running 20 mile weeks in the run up to my last PB. Since then I’ve done a few 25+ weeks and 1 30 mile week based around your plan. Would you say I should be ready for a sub 20 attempt now?
    Thanks in advance

  110. Chloe Poulos says:

    Where is the actually training plan? I can only find the example one for week one but not the whole thing. Also I am at the end of my freshman cross country season right now and my pr is 21:01 and I was wondering if I could start this plan at the end of my cross country season and then continue it into my track season? Or do you believe it would be too much to do these workouts and my coaches workouts?

  111. WKR says:

    Is the 3m @ 6:40p/m for the tempo run in recovery week 3miles?

  112. Kristian463 says:

    Started this plan back in mid July after coming off the back of a 21:29PB. Done two cycles (8 weeks total) and managed to end up with a 20:03 for my efforts. Frustrating but pleasing none the less. Moving onto your sub 18 plan now which i’ll adapt for sub 19 and change the timings. Thanks again for the information which has no doubt helped me progress

  113. H says:

    Followed this training plan for 3 weeks and my time has gone down from 22 to 19:39! I may have gone a bit insane and bet 3 of my mates £100 each that I can get a sub 17:30 5k before new year. I’m training every day with gym sessions and cross training, this will actually be one hell of an achievement if I can complete this! I’m 16 wish me luck

  114. Dan says:

    My PB is 20:16 from a few years ago. I took a few years off but now back at it. I ran 21:45 last weekend now training hard for a race 6 weeks from now. I have two questions:

    In other forums I’ve seen it suggested that for sub-20 performance, mileage should really be increased to 40+. Your training plan gets you to about 30 if you add in some warm up/warm down miles. What say you? Would more miles be beneficial or is there too much risk of over training? I have several months of 25-30 mpw under my belt but haven’t exceeded that.

    Secondly, at this stage I can’t maintain the target pace on all reps. Would it be better to:
    1. Pick a slower pace that I can complete successfully then decrease incrementally.
    2. Hit the target on the first couple intervals then allow for slower times but still do all reps.
    3. Only do as many reps at goal pace as I can do (for example I could only do 3×800 at goal pace this week- I finished a fourth in 3:26 and then stopped because stopping felt really good)

    Thanks in advance for any guidance and for all of the great information here!

    • Dan says:

      Answering my own question: first off, I just ran a 19:49 today! I basically did 6 weeks of week 1-3 twice, then did a taper week leading to today. My question on interval pace went away because once I did a couple hill workouts and she’d a few pounds, I could hit the target pace, first with longer rest in between, then eventually with just the 90 seconds. For those interested, I read another blog that recommended just that: adhering to the target pace and increasing rest time as necessary to be able to complete the work out. As you progress, the rest time decreases but you’re always running at the target pace (for the 6×800 and 5x1k workouts).
      Thanks again for the resource you’ve provided here to us weekend warriors!


  115. brij ravinder says:

    Feeling exicted. lots of positive comments here. started running mid 2017 and ran a couple of ultra’s this year with 3 days/per week training. a couple days ago ran a 5k solo road test, 21m10s. will start 20min plan next week. will update and share my progress.

    • brij ravinder says:

      exhilarating. ran MALAYSIAN OPEN MASTERS ATHLETICS yesterday, 5000m result 18m10s. used 20min training plan but trained a little faster and tweaked the longs run and easy runs duration. its all about patience and consistency. it takes time to improve.

  116. ryan says:

    Hi Matt,
    So I have a 22-ish 5k right now, and would like to become sub 20 (hopefully around 18-19) in the next 10 months. If I follow your sub 20 program, do you think it would be a realistic goal for me to break 20 min by august?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Ryan,
      Yes I think that is highly achievable. Obviously you will also need to make sure you eat right and train smart but you definitely have time to get to that sort of time between now and August. Good luck and let us know how you get on. Cheers.

  117. Alan Hall says:

    Hi Matt, Loving the 20 and 18 plans thank you for sharing. I’ve only done 10 days but can already feel the difference my first time running repeats. Managed a sub 20 a few years ago at age 45 with Fartlek. Aiming for a sub 19 at the end of the month as my times are coming between the two plans.

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Alan, thanks for the feedback. It’s always good to hear when someone finds the plans useful. Good luck with your training and let us know how you get on. Cheers.

      • Alan Hall says:

        Hi Matt,

        Hit 19:04 on Friday which isn’t bad at 47. The plan was great for taking me out of my comfort zone and took away the daily decision making. Thanks for your help. I’m looking forward to your half marathon plans that you have coming soon.

        • Matt Matt says:

          Hi Alan,
          Thanks for the comment. Really chuffed the plan worked for you; 19:04 is awesome, well done. Yes I’ll be updating the site soon with some more half-marathon plans so please check the site again in a few weeks. Cheers.

    • Rob says:

      Hi, after following this routine pretty strictly for a few months, I’m doing fine with the pace of the intervals (doing the 400 meter intervals in an average of ~1:25; and also comfortable in-time for the 800m and 1km intervals) but I’m unable to keep up the stamina needed for a sub-20min 5km. In my most recent attempts, I’ve been on-pace at around the 2.5 KM mark, before slipping off-pace and finishing around ~20:30. Is there anything you’d advise ammending in this routine to build up stamina for the latter KMs?

  118. Laura says:

    Hi Matt,
    I keep hearing about the benefits of strength training. Do you have a suggested program to follow? Where would you slot this into the sub 20 program? Sorry if you have already been asked this before. I haven’t come across any info on the site so far.

  119. Austin says:

    I was wondering, towards the end of the 2nd week and the beginning of the 3rd week there are 4 hard workouts in a row. How detrimental would taking a day off in the middle of the 4 days (after the long run) be? I just can’t seem to do hard workouts 4 days in a row. This is my second cycle of the plan (much easier than the 1st) but still feel like I’m on the verge of a muscle strain or something with 4 hard days in a row.

  120. Elizabeth says:

    I am excited to try this plan. I am just getting back into running after having my last child. I have been running about 15miles per week for 2 months and easily ran a 21:04 5k last weekend. I have signed up to run a summer fun series (5k every Wednesday). How would you suggest modifying the plan to accommodate weekly races?

  121. Michael says:

    What speed would u recommend doing long run for sum 20 training plan

  122. Antony Phillips says:

    Hi, I came accross this site and enjoyed reading the comments for a sub 20 min 5k. My PB is 20:31 but that was in 2014. Today I ran 21:32 after struggling to break 22 min on four previous occasions recently so really pleased. I am going to give it my all to break 20 min but realise it is a tough target that will take a few months hard training I guess.
    Hopefully i will learn a few tips and post weekly on my update as I try and run a parkrun most weeks.

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Antony, thanks for your comment and good luck with the plan. Keep us updated as to how you are getting on.

      • Antony says:

        Hi Matt, I recently ran 21:15 and chuffed last week to run 21:09 on tired Legs. Looking forward to the challenge of sub 21 this Saturday at my hilly parkun. Feeling much fitter generally after focusing on speed,

  123. stefan says:

    Hello, today I ran 5km in 22minutes and 36 seconds, for 40 days I have a race I want to run under 20 minutes, will I succeed? and whether you can give me additional advice

  124. james says:

    Hi Matt my fastest 5km is 19.15 I’m still trying to better it any advice would be smashing

  125. Derek jones says:

    Hello Matt, been running for 2years this summer about 20 to 25 miles per week. I just came off a training plan ran a last week 5k 21:13. I can run a mile 5:40 maybe even faster but can’t seem to string all 3miles together. I also can run a 800m best 2:25… This plan might be the one.

  126. Emma Shilling says:

    This is a fab plan my current on is 20.52 and I am now on week 2 and beat g the average paces by about 10s per mile pace so looking forward to the next race in the 7th April.
    The plan is really tough but definately feeling the rewards.
    Thanks again

  127. Mathieu Portivent says:

    I’m working towards a 16 minute 5k. I am inexperienced but ran an 19 minutes without training 10 years ago. Right now I’m just trying to get below 20 minutes and eventually this year hopefully get to 16 minutes. Question is a two part question. This 1 month training plan do I go over and over or start a new program every month. Obviously I will drop down to the 18 minute plan when that time comes but until I reach that point will I continue this program over and over?

    • Mathieu Portivent says:

      Why didn’t you reply to me? Needing some advise here.

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Mathieu, apologies for the late reply; this one must of slipped through the net. My advice, and certainly what I have done in the past, is to complete 3-4 cycles of the plan continuously and then attempt a PB before taking a break for a couple of weeks to allow for proper recovery (week #4 of each cycle is a easier week to allow for recovery on the way). Good luck and apols again for the tardy reply.

  128. Rajkumar swami says:

    Very nice sir g

  129. Kev says:

    Hi, sorry if this is a really obvious question but I have no real knowledge on this and want to give the plan a proper go.
    1. How does one know they are running 4.00 per km or 3:12 per 800 when actually running?
    2. Is this something that can be done in real time with a GPS watch? If so, can anyone recommend a good watch that won’t break the bank?
    3 .Can the watch be setup to notify you when you’ve completed each km and do you then just use the timer for the easy 90 seconds?
    I am clueless so thanks in advance for any guidance provided.

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Kev, no worries. To know what pace you are running, ideally you would make use of some sort of GPS watch or have access to a running track. If you have neither you could always use to plot out a 400/800/1km route near your house that would enable you to do some interval training with a simple stop watch.
      There are some mega expensive GPS watches out there, but you can pick one up relatively cheaply if you are prepared to get a second hand one. I personally use an old Garmin 310xt which I got off eBay for about £70 and I’ve had it for years. With a GPS watch like this you can set it up to alert you when you have completed each km and then use the timer for the easy 90secs.
      Hope that helps and good luck with your training.

  130. For the sub 20 5k training plan, on the 4th week tempo run, should I run at a 6:40 pace for 3 miles?

  131. Dhairya says:

    Hello this seems to be an excellent plan .
    By 30 min easy ranning you mean 4.30 min / km pace? And that would be 7 km ?
    This what i understood after reading soma replys correct if wrong
    Excited to start this soon

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Dhairya, yes that is correct. Try and make sure it is no faster than this. Good luck with the plan and let us know how you get one.

  132. Magnus says:

    Hello Matt,
    I have another question. On the 4th. week in the cyckle, you have a lot of time reserved for rest or cross-training. How many days on this week you would consider cross-training and how many days resting? Because otherwise it would seem like too much resting.

    Thank you in advance!


    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Magnus, much of this would be down to personal choice, based upon how you are feeling and your familiarity with focused and high intensity training. The emphasis for this week is to allow your body to recover and ease any potential niggles that you may have. I don’t like too many idle days so I would probably only have two or three ‘off’ days in the week. I would always try to have a block of two days off completely though. Cheers.

  133. Zavia says:

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for the program, looking forward to seeing how I go. Current PB is 21:41. I’ve just completed the first week (with the exception of the long run tomorrow) and the intervals were a bit of a killer but feeling good so far. Maintained the pace for the first two 1k intervals then slowly regressed for the last 3 ;). Did a lot better on the 800m and maintained pace for 5/6. Will keep you posted on the results.

    • Zavia says:

      I had a very disrupted last two weeks of the program for a variety of reasons including a cold/flu in the last week which disrupted a lot of the training. Gave myself an extra couple of weeks off to ensure I was recovered and had a crack at a 5k last Saturday. Didn’t get sub 20 but did reduce my PB from 21:41 to 21:11. Keen to hit the program again in the new year.

  134. Andrew says:

    Hi Matt
    I don’t know if you have answered this already but is there a link to the full plan from week 1 to week 4 or do we just keep repeating the same thing over because I noticed on the top of the training program is says week 1

  135. Magnus says:

    Hello Matt,

    What do I do if I have skipped one run in a schedule? Dump it? Repeat the week? Or drop a rest day in the next week?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Magnus,
      It depends largely on which session it it. If it is a breakeven/ receovery type run then I wouldn’t worry too much about it; just carry on as normal or try to juggle the week around a bit to fit it in somewhere. If it is a breakthrough (intense) session then I would probably repeat that week. Those interval sessions are key and it’s important to get through them all in a cycle. Cheers.

      • Magnus says:

        In my case it was “Long Run”. Does the same rule as with “Easy/Steady Run” abide to this one?

        Cheers, and thanks for the great web-site you have doen with all these wonderful plans!

        • Matt Matt says:

          Hi Magnus, yes you’re correct, I would apply the same thinking here as to the steady run. I’ve found that for specific 5k training the long run is probably the one to miss if you have to miss any of the sessions during the week (slightly different if you are following a 10k plan).
          Thanks for your feedback, always nice to hear. Good luck with your training and let us know how you get on.

  136. Troy says:

    Hi Matt, just finished reading your training plan it looks hard and honest. I ran 21:30 about amonth ago with an Achilles problem. For the last month i have been cross training and slowly coming back. I ran the 1k test and was able to complete it in 3:57 but was running hard. I am a bit older at 51 so I am wondering if I could do this plan. I am thinking about building my miles the rest of this month with the 1km test once per week, and in Dec starting the plan and continuing it through the winter. Also I usually run my long run on Sun with a group where we mainly run about 10 miles but it’s at an easy pace. What do you think?

  137. Grammarsow says:

    Long run? how long and at what pace please

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi, the long run requirement can vary slightly depending on what other training you are doing which is why it’s a little vague in the plan. If you are focusing solely on 5k’s then I don’t think the long run needs to be any longer than an hour and a half max. Because the week’s sessions can be quite intense my focus is to just enjoy the slower steady pace of a long run and whether than is for 60 mins or 90 mins it’s not an exact science. Just run naturally and don’t worry about pace so much. Personally my long run is an hour, when I’m 10k training as well I’ll go a bit longer and it’s usually 20-30 seconds slower per mile than the speedy miles during the week.

  138. Harry says:

    Matt, I followed your sub 20min plan for one cycle. I went from 21mins 33secs to 20min 06 seconds. Annoyingly just missed out on sub 20. Would you suggest another cycle of this training before attempting sub 18min plan? The times for that I think would be a stretch right now or modify and aim for sub 19 min training?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Harry, that’s annoyingly close! Well done though. I would probably opt for another cycle of the sub 20 min plan if I were you; another go at that and considering your progress already, I’d be confident you’ll nail it in 3-4 weeks time and then you can move straight onto the 18 minute 5k plan. Let me know how you get on. Cheers.

  139. Antonio says:

    Giving this a try!

  140. Matteo says:

    hi Matt, i’m stuck at 21:50 since 1 month. I’m starting your Plan next week. After these 4 weeks i would like to try 5k race. What kind of warmup routine and pace from start to finish do You suggest?

    Cheers from italy

    • Matt Matt says:

      Bonjourno Matteo! I would suggest a warmup jog of at least 15-20 minutes that includes a mixture of sprints and strides. You want to prepare you body for running at your target race pace so ideally you want to include a short piece of running in your warm-up at that race pace; then it won’t be such a shock to the system when you start the race.
      You should aim to start the race at your target race pace of 06:25 and repeat until the end 🙂
      Good luck and let me know how you get on.

      • Matteo says:

        Hi matt, started today with 5×1. Im struggled to keep 4 min / km pace, these was my splits:
        AVG 4:12 min per km
        Hope to improve in these 4 weeks, thanks

        • Matteo says:

          today 6×800, splits:
          AVG 4:02
          i skipped the 30 min easy yesterday because im doing bike on indoor trainer.

  141. Aidan says:

    How do you run the actual 5k? Continuously? There aren’t any non-stop 5k runs in the training plan; will the program prepare me to run nonstop if that’s the case?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Aidan, ideally you run the 5km at the end of a 3 week training block/ cycle. There is enough long runs and 30 min easy runs to prepare you to run continuously for 5km.

      • Aidan says:

        Interesting, so you never run the full 5k for time during training to benchmark progress? I’d be uneasy with having to keep up that speed continuously when during training I’ve only run at race pace with breaks every 90s/200m, etc.

        • Matt Matt says:

          Hi Aidan, I wouldn’t worry about running the 5k within the training block to benchmark progress. The point of the plan is to train your body so you are in a position to get the target time at the end of the cycle. The fact that you are following a particular plan means you already have a baseline. I.e., if you are following the sub 20 min 5k plan, then your PB should already be below 22mins. The training blocks are short so by all means you could run 5k at the end of each cycle to check for progress but having a 5k attempt within the training block would potentially just impeded the plan itself.

  142. Gavin says:

    Hey man, I am currentky having a pretty tough time getting to my form from last season. My best time this season is 22:12, last season was 20:29, is it still possible for me to break 20 with 5 meet left? Any tips?

  143. Toby says:

    Very thrilled to have made it under 20mins after just the first cycle of 4 weeks. Didn’t intend to try, but the legs felt good after the first half lap of parkrun and I got in by 3 secs. I missed a couple of the sessions in weeks 2 and 3 because of other commitments, but to be honest, just having a plan and running regularly did the trick. Thanks!

  144. Stephen Goodier says:

    Hi, I just started you plan for sub 20 minutes. My current 5k time is about 21 minutes. I was wondering what pace you would recommend I should run my recovery run in. Also, how far the long run should be and what pace this should be at?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi, the easy run should be about 30mins at 07:00 pace or thereabouts. Cheers

      • Marcus says:

        07:00min/mi pace for easy/recovery is completely wrong. That would mean running at roughly 10K race pace.

        • Matt Matt says:

          At 10k pace? For what 10k time? Not sure I understand the statement. An easy run that is 35+ seconds slower per mile than target race pace is acceptable but of course, you are free to modify the plan as works best for you :-). Cheers,

          • Harry says:

            Re the easy / recovery run – for a recent half marathon training which I ran at 7:37p/m pace my recovery/easy runs were around a min/90 secs p/m slower. For this 5K attempt, on easy days still running at 7:00p/m still seems fast and not a recovery easy? Does this depend on overall fitness?

  145. James P says:

    Great plan. Been stuck between 21-22mins for over a year now. Adapted it for Sub 21 and this morning went 20.42 after only 4 weeks. Really chuffed. Only managed the two interval type runs, parkrun, slow 10k and a swim each week, (and worked on upping my cadence too). Good to read the comments and suggestions, although might not try Jude’s 50 days of consecutive running. Wow and Ouch! Hope to consolidate todays result and work towards that Sub 20 now! Thanks for all the help. J

    • Matt Matt says:

      Thanks for the comment, James. It’s always nice to hear success stories, keep up the good work and let me know if/ when you get under 20. Cheers.

  146. Audun says:

    Hello Matt,
    Your training plan is a jewel, thank you!
    I wondered, how should I proceed forward in case if I become sick, injured or traveling etc.? Should I just pick up, where I left or adjust it to the week day I’m in currently?

    Also, how do I proceed if I can’t, – let’s say, – break the time in 800m intervals and maintain demanded pace throughout all 6 sets? Do I just repeat the training plan so long until that starts happening or?


    • Matt Matt says:

      I would advise that you adjust the plan to suit your needs with regards to injury, sickness, etc. You know your body better than anyone so go with whatever feels right for you.
      If you are not quite making the time intervals for the full session then I would suggest you repeat the plan until you can do so. Training your body into a position where it can meet the demands of the intervals at race pace is imperative part of the plan. Cheers

      • Audun says:

        Thank for your responce, Matt!

        I’m a kickboxer, so I tend to have to a lot of cardio. I wonder, how well this training plans are suited to supplement my trainng considering I train 4-5 times a week my sport?

        Also, how would you recommend to get back on track after sickness exactly?

        • Matt Matt says:

          Hi Auden, I don’t know the first thing about kickboxer training I’m afraid. If it’s cardio you are after though, I think the training plans here will good you a good base to work from. After sickness, I suggest rather than starting at week 1, start at week 4 with the recovery week. Do this for a couple of weeks until you are ready to progress. I wouldn’t advise doing any of the speed interval sessions during or post-sickness. They will potentially degrade your immune system causing more illness or hampering recovery.

  147. Mike L. says:

    Hi, thanks for the plan! I don’t see Sunday on the chart here. Is there anything scheduled on Sunday? Also, is this plan for 4 weeks only, or is there something I’m missing.

  148. Olgierd says:

    Hello Matt,
    First of all, thanks for your great training programmes. Could you specify, what would be the pace for the “long runs”? Also, how to make a transition from sub 20min to let’s say sub 18, when sub 20 gets beaten? I mean, what’s the approach to start adjusting this sub 20 min training programme to start trying next step in beating 18 minutes. How would I do that?

    Thank you very much in advance!

  149. Ahmed says:

    Hi Matt I want to ask what pace should I make my long Run. What is the best Fartlek Training.

  150. Stu says:

    The older I get the better I was it seems. 🙂 5 years ago I squeezed a 20:12 5k out of my leg on a pancake flat course. I’m doing a weekly hilly Parkrun now in around 22 minutes so I still believe with a bit of focus I can scare the 20 minute barrier. I’m 47 now so I’m hoping to scare a few of the youngsters. One question I have is warmup and cooldown. There’s no mention of either (I don’t think) so generally in the past, when I’ve done intervals in particular, I’ve started with a very easy mile/10 minute jog and finished with the same. Is this too much/too little/too fast (surely not)/too slow?

  151. David says:

    Works for old gits too – I have been haphazardly trying unsuccessfully for sub 20 for several months. Needed the speed work and drop in training hours – in 3 weeks parkruns went 20:47 then 20:23 then 19:32 (fastest VET 50). Had it been 19:59 I might have stopped and concentrated on endurance, but now I want sub 19 !

  152. Hailey says:

    Hi Matt. Have a current pb of 21:30 from a while back but have been doing very well with these workouts sessions. The course I am going to run for my next 5K has an intense hill a little under a quarter mile in length at the 2.7 mile mark and I am afraid I won’t be able to break 20 because of it. Any suggestions on how to push through on the hill & recover after so that I can still achieve my goal? Thanks.

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Hailey,
      Certainly the hill makes things a little harder but all is not lost; one of my fastest 5k’s had a big hill in it. Mainly because what goes up, must come down. Do you know if there is equal distribution of downhill over the course?
      There’s a short section on hill technique and some example hill training sessions on this website in the Training Sessions section. As it’s a relatively short but intense hill, I recommend doing some hill sprints in preperation and really nailing the technique so you are as efficient as possible. When going downhill try lengthening your stride, breathing very deeply and really concentrate on getting your heartrate under control so you can recover ready to attack again.

  153. Matt says:

    Question: On the 6×800 day does the “200m rec.” mean 200 meter recovery? And is this walking?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Matt, that’s right it’s a 200m recovery and planned as a slow jog. If you are doing this on track/treadmill then I woudldn’t walk it as it would probably be too long a recovery. Obviously adapt the session to how you feel but for 800m I usually go for a slow jog or standing recovery of the same time (i.e., be stationary for however long it would take to jog 200m).
      If you are outside on the road then you coudl jog/walk/stand still for the same amount of time. Hope that makes sense.

    • Matt says:

      I ran a 5k today in 19:52 for my first ever sub 20! Thanks for the plan. I enjoyed the variety. Going on 40, I’m not sure I’m ready to push for sub 18 but we shall see…

      • Matt Matt says:

        Well done, Matt. I don’t think you need to be burdened by your age at this stage. If you train smart, look after yourself, and are determined you will be able to get the time down even further, perhaps even to the sub 18 :-). Good luck!

  154. Steven Birch says:

    what does rec week mean?

  155. Paul says:

    Great training plan. I have a PB of 19.50, but want to consolidate my sub 20 time on this program before moving onto sub 18. I find with this plan I am getting more targeted, quality sessions in rather than hours of mile crunching. It has been hard work, but my fitness has improved immensely in the past 2 weeks. I am going for a 5 k race in a few weeks, and pretty confident that PB will get smashed!

  156. Marty Mako says:

    Hello, I was wondering if there is a way to adapt this training program for a treadmill. My wife and I have a 4 month old baby at home, so we find it hard to run outside these days. But we can put the baby beside us and she actually falls asleep to the sound of the treadmill. I’ve run a few 5k races over the past month and I’m stuck around 20:30 right now (my pb is around 19:30). I can run much faster than this on the treadmill, but it seems when I run outside in a race the conditions (wind, hills, etc) really slow me down. I am willing to try the 5 x 1k, 6 x 800m and 10 x 400m distances on the treadmill, but I think the speeds should be faster to compensate for it being a treadmill. I was wondering if I could do the hill training on a treadmill as well. It’s a Life Fitness (commercial grade) treadmill so high quality. What do you think? I appreciate the help. My wife is equally interested in adapting the sub 24 min program for a treadmill.

    • Chris says:

      I have the same question as Marty. Any insights?

      • Matt Matt says:

        Hi Chris/ Marty, I’ve been giving this some thought and I’ll add a page to the site about following a training plan using just the treadmill. There’s a few things to consider so would like to do the topic justice. Will update the site and mail you both once it’s live. Cheers.

  157. Ali says:

    Dear Matt, thanks for the plan. Just to make sure I understood this correctly, it’s only a three-week plan if my time is already sub 22 min?
    If so, if my time is, say, 25 mins, then I do the number of weeks of the 25 min plan until I get it to sub 22 then do this 3-wk plan? Thanks for your help!

    • Ali says:

      Sorry I meant 4 wk

      • Matt Matt says:

        Hi Ali, all the training plans on the site follow a four-week cyclical method: 3 weeks hard training that is tailored to your target time followed by a week of reduced intensity training. If you can already run a 25min 5k my advice would be to follow the 24 minute 5k training plan first before attempting the 22 minute 5k plan.
        Hope that makes sense, and good luck.

  158. Uroš says:

    I was not able to do the workouts as prescribed, eg 1000m and 800m intervals were too hard (also mentally), yet I ran 19:03 in a 4.85 km race on Saturday :).
    Thank you for the plan.

  159. Mike R says:

    Just wanted to say that I’ve been following the various plans over the last few months and they really work! Love how it changes up your routine rather than monotonous runs/training. Used the 22 min plan back in April and ran a 20:59! Then, used the 20 min plan and ran EXACTLY 20:00 this last weekend. Had to cut the training one week short due to some knee soreness. Going to try the 18 min plan (maybe tailored to something in between the 18 and 20) and shoot for another 5K in July. Thanks for the structure and motivation!

    • Matt Matt says:

      Great work, Mike. Glad you find the plans usuful. Let us know how you get on with the 18 minute plan and enjoy getting faster 🙂

  160. Rob says:

    I am wary of sounding like a tit, but I’m very interested. I’m 44. I used to play serious hockey and I used to be fit (sprint-recovery-sprint) fit. Since no longer doing that, I run a couple of times a week (5-10k at 7.30-8.20 min miles) but I can’t run much more than that without my knees getting tendony. I swim once a week as well, sometimes twice. I did my first park run today, and that was 20:10. I’ve never done any kind of long run where I pushed myself, and it’s a not-flat one, so I hope I can run under 20.

    Given the knees, 6 days of running a week aren’t possible. Is it rational to expect much in the way of improvement just from the getting used to running fast? If not, that’s fine, but I’m interested.

  161. Dyse says:

    I’ve been using these workout recommendations for a few months and last week got a 19:30 PB on a ParkRun! Many thanks for your plan! Onto the next goal… 18 mins!

    • Ian says:

      Hi I’ve tried a few sessions on the Sub 20 5K Plan and I’ve got a new 19.20PB! Can you adapt training times to hit Sub 19?? Thanks!

  162. Alandra says:

    Great training plan – it worked =] I ran a 19:49 5k yesterday with a max gain of 178 ft. That is a PR over 1:20! It was a tough course, I can’t wait to give it a go on a flatter course.


  163. Jude says:

    Hey again guys. I ran a 5K again and did it in 18:39.5! I have no idea how I did it that fast? I am moving on to the 18 plan now. Thanks for this training plan Matt!

  164. Jude says:

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention to you guys that I didn’t fallow the plan exactly how it told me to on the last week, I skipped some of the rest days. I also never rested on any of the days it told me to cross train, on those days I did a really easy 2 mile run to keep my running streak up. I have ran for 50 consecutive days. I cross train Monday through Friday every week so I didn’t skip out on cross training. If you are a runner it is very important to cross train!

  165. Jude says:

    Hey! I finished the plan and ran a 20:07 5K! There were 18 MPH winds, and I had an elevation gain of 57 and a loss of 80, so I probably would have made the 20 minute mark if it weren’t for the condition. Thank you so much for this training plan!

    I think I might do this plan one more time and then move on to the 18 minute 5K plan. I’ll let you guys know how that one went once I do it.

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Jude,

      Well done, that’s a great result considering the conditions. Do pop back sometime and let us know how you get on, sure you’ll be on to the sub 18 minute plan in no time at all.


  166. Bogdan says:


    I just don’t understand how does all those training sessions add up to 8-10 hrs a week. You have at most 6 training sessions a week. This would mean something like 1hr and 30 min per training session which is pretty much even for a long run session (which I suppose is the longest session of them all).

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Bogdan, thanks for the comment; you are quite right to query that. I’ve made a slight adjustment to the time commitment requirement as it should be 4-8 depending on number of hours spent cross training.

  167. Alandra says:

    Hi Matt! When do we use the “steady pace” run? That seems too quick for a recovery or for the long run (for me at least 😉 )

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Alandra,
      Thank you for your comment, I hope you find the training plans useful.
      As for the ‘steady pace’ runs, you can view these as the “30mins easy” sessions specified in the plan. I have recommended it as no faster than 7 min/per mile pace so covering these at 7:25 would also be fine. This would be a minute per mile slower than your target race pace so should not tire out the legs too much and keep you fresh for the harder sessions.
      Good luck with the training and pop back sometime to let us know how you get on.


  168. Joe says:

    Could you please explain the details of the tempo run in the recovery week (Tempo Run
    inc. 3m @6:40 p/m). Not sure what it means.

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Joe,
      It is recommending that during the recovery week that you do a tempo run so your legs don’t completely forget what you have been doing the previous 3 weeks. The pace should be easy to begin with, for about a mile, then try doing 2-3 miles in the middle that is at 6:40 per mile pace (this is still slower than your target race pace for this plan), followed by another slower mile to finish.

      Hope that helps.

  169. Jude says:

    Hey everybody! I am 16 and have been running for about a year now, I nave a 21:01 5K PR. I am going to give this training plan a shot, I’ll let you know how it went once I am done.

  170. ben wickens says:

    ran a PB of 20:43 today released iv got to have a constructed training plan instead of “just going for a run” to be able to get a sub20 5k. Great plan and very useful will start to add these different sessions in each week and see how i get on.
    Thanks, Ben

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi Ben,
      Congrats on the PB. Yes it can make a massive difference following a plan where you are actively training at your target pace. Like you, I spent ages ‘just going for a run’ and I got faster initially but then reached the inevitable plateau.
      Good luck with the sub 20 minute 5k plan and drop us a note to let us know how you get on.

  171. cicerunner says:

    Matt, I’m curious as to what the source or references are for your training programmes?

    • Matt Matt says:

      Hi, all the training plans have been assembled based on my own experience running and coaching over past ten years combined with research and experimentation of various plans that are freely available.
      Hope you found something useful.

      • cicerunner says:

        Matt, thank you. I will be experimenting with a combination of your sub 20 and sub 18 plans later in the year – hoping to improve my 18:53 PB. But first, I need to get my first marathon done!

        • Matt Matt says:

          Ah yes just a small matter of the marathon to do first!
          Well good luck, and hope to hear back from you re the plans once you’ve had a successful marathon.

  172. Matt J says:

    Current PB (achieved in May 2016) is 20:05! have done the plan and have a 5km race on Sunday!

    • Matt J says:

      Goal achieved!
      Ran a 5km on Christmas Day and got 19:40 @ 3:56km…went off too fast though with a 3:39km first km…but managed to soldier home.
      Ran anther 5km on 7 Jan and 19:45 @ 3:57km, much better pacing with all 5km’s under 4:00km.

  173. Alan says:

    Thanks – Current PB is 21.21. Plan looks good….Will give it a go

  174. Eduard says:

    Thanks for such program. 2 weeks ago I did 5K for 20:15 and since today I’ve started your program. My first 5x1km, [email protected]:56 per km. Will let you know in a month the results I reach.

  175. GRANT says:

    Im onboard this plan. Current pb is 20.51. Will report once complete in 1 month.

  176. Matt Matt says:

    Looks great. Will give it a go and report back!