Plan needed for sub 22 min 5k

Hi there,

I am new to runner's world and this is my first post.

I am a 37 year old male and after 3 months of running 2 or 3 times a week, I managed to run 23.01 in my local Park Run. However, I would like a plan to take me up a level (I thought 22 mins would be a good target). I have been taking it fairly easy as I suffered shin splints earlier in the year when I pushed my mileage up too quickly. I was thinking of maybe a 3 times a week plan with a bit of interval stuff thrown in. I use a Garmin 305 but have not been able to find anything suitable to download yet.

Any advice would be most welcome.



  • the very best thing you can do to train for this is to work out the pace for a 22 minute 5 k ,its about 4.24 pace per km and run at that or quicker ,i dont think there is much value in getting bogged down in finding specific plans to run specific times ,all the info you need is in the time you want over the distance you run ,whatever that pace is train  at that pace ,i think plans with different paces and different types of runs are only effective over longer distances

  • Hi Richard.   A 23 minute 5K means you're definitely running.

    There are thousands of 5K plans you can find on the internet.  I don't think you'll find many that come close to agreeing with daniel's view.

    As I say, you can search and find a programme that fits you... but one simple principle to understand is that (IMO) you need to work on two aspects. 1... endurance  and 2....speed.  There are some nuances that you'll see in the programmes, but in general terms, it's best not to work on them both at the same time.

    Get some nice long miles in your legs with weekend running.... build up to at least 8, preferably 10 miles. This gives you the basic aerobic endurance, and strength, that you need to do a great 5K.

    Get some speed work in during the week.  Perhaps interval type training.  Not just sprints... but do some 400m repeats, or 800m repeats.   This builds up the performanc of your body's anaerobic system... using fuel stored in your muscles... which is essential for a good 5K

    Don't attempt a personal best every week in the park runs.  Maybe try it every 6 weeks...  letting the endurance and the speed come together in one great race.

    If you continually bash away full tilt at 5K for the next 6 or 12 weeks, you'll surely be faster than you are now... but if you follow a more balanced endurance/speed programme, you'll be qucker still... and have a firmer base for making further improvements at 5K and at other distances too.

  • ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Good Post!

  • Thanks Run Wales. That's a very helpful answer and I will follow your advice and see how I go. Nice to know about the sensible interval to attempt a PB too. As it happens my local park run is Cardiff.

  • Interesting post, have carried out 10 park runs in London with a PB of 23 minutes. I am trying to buid up stamina to go for a PB and ran 14 miles yesterday though took me around 2 and 1/4 hours so not going full pelt. I am also trying to do interval training with 5K runs interspersed with sprints.

  • Richard, there is some good advice here. One thing I'd like to mention is weight. I'm 36 and I've been running 18 months. I was almost 15 stone and unfit when I started.

    As the weight came off, the times went down. I run 5K four or five times a week. My times gone from 41 minutes for my first 5k to 21.19 this week. Granted, its getting harder to improve my time, but I still have a little weight to lose.

    If your carrying a few extra lbs, losing a few may help you hit your goal sooner rather than later.
  • Useful - and I think relatively balanced - information on weight and running:

    Certainly at our level losing excess weight - in a sensible gradual manner - is a simple, non-technical and pretty much guaranteed way to improve your times assuming that you have the excess weight to lose.

    Providing a quick example based on the article contained in that link:

    Mr Average (UK) 5ft 10in - allocate 110lbs for first 5ft and 5.5lbs per inch after that = 110 + 5.5 x 10 = 165lbs or 11st 11lbs. Anything over that is definitely excess. For a 5k runner the article suggests losing up to a further 12%. Call it 10% to make the maths easy: 10% of 165lbs is 16.5lbs, so 148.5lbs or 10st 8.5lbs.

    I started this year at 12st 8lbs having been out of running for 18 months. I'm now 11st 1lbs and regularly running under 20 minutes at age 47. Have been running since around 40 and never been as fast as I am now. No coincidence that I'm now at my lowest adult weight. That 22lbs lost slowly and steadily over about 7 months bascially just by restarting running and keeping my diet the same as it was before I restarted.

  • Hi Kent, Great to hear about your progress - it's inspiring.  I think you're right about weight. I have a stocky build - around 13 stone and 5 foot 7 or 8 (depending on the day!) I am not really losing any weight though as I am probably not doing enough miles and still eat too much. Mind you, am only 3 months in to this running lark so will change my plan and see where I end up.

  • Oh and yes, I'm 5ft 10in image

  • Thanks Cicero. It seems too much to lose for me. I can't imagine losing around 3 stone.

    Using that formula, my running weight would be 154lbs or 11 stone. If I were to lose another 12% off this that would take me down to 10 stone which I don't think is realistic for my build.

  • Hi Richard, I'm 5'11 and medium build. I was fat at 15 stone. Now I'm 12 stone I'm amazed that I still carry some fat around my middle and a little moob! I probably could've lost weight quicker but diets aren't fun so I often eat the wrong food. I'm going to keep at the weight loss until the fat is gone. All the time the weight is going down, so is the time.

    If you lose a stone of fat, you'll be amazed how much faster you are.

    Good luck.
  • Hey Richard, I totally hear what you're saying and certainly weight loss isn't the only way to get faster although any other method's effectiveness will certainly be hampered by carrying excess weight. Nonetheless there's no need to focus on it if you don't want to since that'll only impair your enjoyment of your running or perhaps spoil it altogether which isn't the point.

    As a parting comment on the topic though, bearing in mind my age, most of my adult life I've been in the range 12st to 13 1/2 st. Since I first started running in 2004 that range has shifted down to 11 1/2 st to 13 st, but like you I could never imagine myself any lighter. I was briefly at 11 1/2 st in 2004, but I dieted to get there and I remember feeling anything less would be "wrong"/unhealthy for me. Having come at it again this year, without overt "dieting", just running and enjoying, I now feel quite comfortable and certainly not remotely unhealthy.

    To get an idea of the difference losing a stone of fat - as commented on by Kent - would make, go for a run with a small rucksack containing 6 bags of sugar ... and then imagine the opposite effect. And that's just the stone that is definitely excess.

  • Thanks for all the great advice on here. Cicero - I will aim to get rid of that first stone and not worry about the other two! I found a stone once that weighted exactly a stone and use it as a doorstop in my house. It is amazing how heavy it is. I will post my progress back here in a month or two.

  • Just to add my tuppence-worth, I read somewhere that every 1lb off is worth 7 seconds off your 5k time, all other things being equal; I'm sure there is a calculator on the internet somewhere for weight loss
    ace times. 

    My personal experience is that I had been working towards sub 25 target, and plateaued in the mid 26's, when I started dieting in earnest.  I began to shed the pounds pretty quickly, and within 6 weeks I had cracked 25, and within 12 weeks I was down to 23:08.  That was the beginning of last year, I haven't really been focusing on 5K since then but my PB is now 21:29.  Sub 20 is is one of my targets for 2013, and since I still think I could stand to lose a further stone (easier said than done) it should take me along way there.  For the record, I am 5 7 and 11st.

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