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
Examples
Rest/Cross-train
Tuesday5x1km
[email protected]:00 per km/ 6:25p/m (90s rec.)
10x400m
[email protected] per 400m/ 6:15p/m (60s rec.)
5x1km
[email protected]:00 per km/ 6:25p/m (90s rec.)
Rest/Cross-train
Wednesday30min easy30min easy30min easyTempo Run
inc. 3m @6:40 p/m
Thursday6x800m
[email protected]:12 per 800 / 6:25p/m
(200m rec.)
Hills
Examples
Fartlek
Examples
Rest/Cross-train
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 08:25 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.

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.

359 Responses

  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!

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