These free 5k running plans are designed for people with some running background looking to improve their 5k time. Just download the appropriate plan and customize it to work for you. The distance is listed in miles and each plan is customizable based off your current fitness and how many days per week you are looking to run (just use the prioritization chart).
I have included sections below that go into more details about the plans as well as covers item like strideouts, mileage, paces, and FAQs. If you find these plans are too advanced, then consider the First Step Running Plans before advancing to one of these.
If you are unsure about anything on the plans, please feel free to reach out and Contact Me. Once you have reached a new personal best, please feel free to submit your time to try and qualify for our top-10 list, or just offer general feedback.
If you like the plans, please consider donating to help the cause and allow us to keep bringing free running plans to the masses.
Once you have downloaded your Free Running Plan, just input your current estimated fitness and it will give you the appropriate paces for the workouts. I have listed a chart on prioritizing the runs based on how many days per week you want to run. This will be tweaked and automated in the future (I will be constantly updating the plans).
The beginner programs for each distance is a little more advanced than most. If you want something more basic, then check out our First Step Running Plans and then advance to your appropriate distance after you complete it. Alternatively, you can run 2-3 days per week for a couple of week prior to starting a “beginner program”.
The advanced programs aren’t top level elite plans. My thought was that if you are running at an elite level, you will likely have some idea what you’re doing. Nonetheless, you can always tweak the mileage and interval reps to make it more challenging and work for you.
I am also more than happy to offer additional insight, advice, and review your current plan. These plans are more catered towards people getting started with running, or looking to improve their times with optimal training. I realize they may not be for everyone, so if you need any advice you can just reach out.
The mileage listed for each day includes the workouts. For example, if your schedule suggests a total of 5 miles and a 4x800m workout, then the workout will fall in the middle and you should run a warm-up and cool-down to reach the total mileage.
On workout days, try to take your time warming up. You may be excited about your workout, but try and slow yourself down on the warm-up - even if you are just shuffling. Prior to starting the actual workout, you may want to include some dynamic leg swings, strideouts, static stretching, and anything else to help loosen you up. You may also want to switch into a lighter trainer or racing flat.
I have included a complete warm-up routine for you to follow on workout days, time trials, and races.
On easy days, your pace should be kept as "conversational", or about 2-2:15 minutes per mile slower than your current 5k per mile fitness. Ensure you also have one day per week that you take exceptionally slow. The warm-up and cooldowns should be a shuffle, but some people need to go slightly harder on the warm-up to get their body loose. Find what works for you on workout days so your routine is perfect come race day.
The repetition paces listed are the times you should run for that distance. For example, if a workout says 4x800m with a repetition time of 3:30, then each 800 meter should be completed in 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Please ensure you take into account variables that may slow you down such as hot weather, windy conditions, etc and adjust accordingly.
These are just 10 second effort where you accelerate, hold pace for a few seconds (usually close to goal race pace or workout pace), then decelerate back down. They are not Intended to be a workout, but rather a way to turn the legs over or loosen up for a workout or race. They are not intended to be tiring or a workout themselves. Try to stay relaxed, focus on form, and have walk-back, shuffle back, or standing recovery until you are ready to go again.
If hill sprints are listed on your schedule, they can be completed following a regular or easy run. These should be 10-20 second sprints uphill. Different than strideouts, the focus here should be raw speed, powering up the hill, and turnover. You can take full walk-back recovery and as long as you need to recover in-between.
You are at high risk of injury in the first 3-4 weeks of a new training plan. Prior to starting any of these schedules, you may want to have 3-4 weeks of just easy running. Once you start the plans, you should place extra emphasis on "prehab" and the recovery process during the first 3-4 weeks. This means ensuring you are stretching post-run, working through strengthening and core strength exercises, icing (if that works for you), foam rolling, and self-massage. Treat the recovery process as important as the training itself. If you are concerned about injury, you can always swap out a regular run for a cross-training session, like swimming, biking, elliptical, etc.
Once you have completed your free 8-week running plan and reached a new personal best, please feel free to submit your results. We will be posting the Top-10 verified times for each distance!
If you need any other information, feedback on a current plan, or are a coach/athlete looking to contribute a plan to collaborate, please feel free to reach out.
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