Sub 20 5k Training Plan

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

To consider following this sub 20 minute 5k plan you should already be able to run at a target race pace of 6:25 for at least a mile (3:59p/km) and/or have a PB under 22 minutes.

If you are not quite there yet then take a look at the 22 minute 5k training plan instead and then come back to this one once you are in a position to run at this pace.

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

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

Your Speed/Distance Training Zones: 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.

Your sub 20 5k training plan

DayWeek 1Week 2Week 3Rec. Week
Monday30min easy30min easy30min easyRest/Cross-train
Reps@4:00 per km/ 6:25p/m (90s rec.)
Reps@93s per 400m/ 6:15p/m (60s rec.)
Hill Sprints
Wednesday30min easy30min easyFartlek
Tempo Run
inc. 3m @6:40 p/m
Reps@3:12 per 800 / 6:25p/m
(200m rec.)
Reps@4:00 per km/ 6:25p/m (90s rec.)
FridayRest/Cross-trainRestRest/Cross-train30min easy
Saturday30min easy6x800m
Reps@3:12 per 800 / 6:25p/m
(200m rec.)
30min easyRest/Cross-train
SundayLong runLong runLong runRest/Cross-train
Article Name
Sub 20 5k Training Plan
Sub 20 5k training plan tailored to your specific required race pace (6:25 p/mile). Speed Intervals sessions, hill sprints, tempo runs & more.

Sub 5k Training Plan Components

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 08:25 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.

About this Sub 20 minute 5k Training Plan

Remember that to consider following this sub 20 minute 5k plan you should already be able to run at a target race pace of 6:25 for at least a mile (3:59p/km) and/or have a PB under 22 minutes.

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.

374 Responses

  1. Daniel says:

    How long should the long runs be?

  2. Stephen says:

    Why on the 22 min 5k plan the 1km intervals are 3 x 1km but on this 20 min 5k the intervals are 5 x 1km. Are they correct?

  3. Brendan Henry says:

    Thanks Matt. Should the long run be similar pace to easy run or slightly faster?

    • Matt says:

      Hi Brendan, I opt for long runs at a quicker pace than recovery/easy runs. I’d say it’s fine to be around the same pace though as the main goal is to do what you need to do in order to be able to hit the required pace on the speed interval sessions, they are the key.

  4. Brendan Henry says:

    Would it be better to do the intervals on a treadmill to guarantee a consistent required pace?

    • Matt says:

      Hi Brendan, treadmill is great for guaranteed pace as you say but need to balance that with the benefits of training outside and potential negative impact on the body of too much treadmill time. Personally, I used to opt for 1 session a week on the treadmill and the rest outdoors.

      • Anonymous says:

        thanks matt!

      • Scarlet says:

        What are the negative impacts of running on a treadmill?

        • Matt says:

          Hi Scarlet, the general theory is that because the belt on the treadmill pulls your feet out when you run you don’t need to push off as much for each stride. However hard one tries to achieve a natural form this would affect your stride pattern and running gait to some degree putting strain on muscles/ joints, etc. Also, some treadmills can seem very hard or sometimes bouncy which again would affect form. There are many benefit to treadmill running though so for me it’s all about moderation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *