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Basic Training: 5K

Competition is the heartbeat of running. It gives you a goal, and something to judge your progress against. It tests you in ways the clock will never do on its own. If you've never raced, a 5K is a great place to begin - it lets you get the feel of race day without much pressure.

How to Prepare

-Warm up and cool down 15-20 minutes before and after each interval session.

-Start all track sessions with 60-meter accelerations, with a walk-back recovery between. Find a flat stretch of road, grass, trail or track and accelerate throughout the distance up to 90-100% speed; slow down, walk back and repeat 3-6 times.


Easy Runs:

Easy, relaxed runs at 60-70% of your max heart rate. It is best to do a max heart rate test to determine your own individual maximum heart rate. On a track, properly warm-up, then run one mile, starting easy and increasing your effort substantially each 400 meters. Your last 400 meters should be a maximum effort. Check your heart rate at the end of the run, either with a heart rate monitor or manually by finding your pulse in your neck and taking a 10-second count (the use of a heart rate monitor will give you the most accurate measure). It may take 2-3 tries, on different occasions, to reach your max. heart rate.

Steady Runs:

A steady run on varying terrain (hilly and flat) at 70-85% of maximum heart rate. Be sure to warm up and cool down.


Speed play, unstructured speed-oriented workout.


Short 50-60m accelerations performed at the end of an easy run.

Long Runs:

Long runs at 60-80% of maximum heart rate. Important not to run faster than 80%. This should be a relaxing, non-stressful run. Try to perform these long runs off road on softer trails, which are easier on the legs.


(see chart below) Repeats of certain distances ranging from 200-800 meters on a running track running at a slightly faster pace than your 5K goal. Each repeat is followed by an easy recovery run of equal or slightly less that distance. Start all track sessions with a 15-20 minute warm-up and 3-4 accelerations. Finish all track sessions with 15-20 minute cool down and light stretching.


(see chart below) Repeats of specific durations from 1-4 minutes in length followed by a rest interval of light jogging. All intervals will be at specific heart rates. The recovery should be easy enough to allow the heart rate to drop down to 60-70% of max.

Strength Training:

If you are already performing weight workouts, they should be performed on Wednesdays and Sundays as long as possible after your run workout. If you have not been in the weight room consistently over the past 3-4 weeks, do not start a weight training program now. Stop all weight sessions 3-4 weeks before race day.


On Wednesdays and Saturdays, cross-train with other activities than running. Cycling, swimming, in-line skating or almost any other physical activity you enjoy is cross-training. Performing another activity besides running will give you a mental and physical break while still strengthening your cardiovascular system and conditioning the overall body. Cross training will substantially reduce the risk of a running-related injury. It is important to keep these activities at an easy effort so you will have energy to perform your run workouts properly.

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