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. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. Jake Cornito says:

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

  4. 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.

    • Matt says:

      Thanks for your comment, Ben. Well done, that’s a cracking effort and pleased the plans were useful! Cheers.

  5. 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 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.

  6. 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

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