Realistic 5k

Hi Everyone

I am hoping to run a 5k in around 26 minutes.  I am 5' 2" and would say that I'm in the lower end of "fit" ... ie I go to the gym regularly but wouldn't say I was fit.  I ran a 5k last year in 34' 52" and am hoping to get to around 26 minutes.  I am going to be 50 later this year.  Is my target realistic? If so, can you recommend a programme for improvement.  Most of the free download training plans aim to get you around a 5k with some walking - and I really want to try for 26 minutes.

Suggestions/advice gratefully accepted.

Thank you.


  • Why 26 minutes ? And 9 minutes off is a big ask.

    It is doable - but depends on how much training you did last time, how much you can do this time, your weight, resistance to injury etc.

    How much do you run now ? How many times a week ? How far ? What kind of pace ?
  • I think what you need to do is start sensibly. Run 3 or so days a week to begin with and have a day in between. On those days I'd try and cross train to exercise the heart and lungs, but without stressing the legs and joints.

    Just try going for a run but at an easy pace. If you cant chat - then its too fast.

    See how far you can go. Then next time see if you can go further.

    You need to be up to running over the 5k distance comfortably - so you won't fade at the end. Once you're happy doing that - then I'd think about some speed work.

    You should never see running as a waste of time. You will improve. Whether its enough to win your category is another thing - there will be women who have trained for years to get there - so it won't be easy - but its possible if you want it badly enough.
  • Dont forget you can run a free 5k race every saturday at parkrun. Hopefully there's one near you. Always good to see how you are progressing.
  • best way is to get to a park run if possible........

    how long until the race/.if you build up slowly and keep training sensibly you should be able to do it,.......

    is it a flat race.....

    26 isn't that fast for a 5k.....loads of women do that at park runs.....

  • Our parkrun course record for womens 50-54 is 19:06 so you wouldn't be first in age group with 26min!

    On a positive note though my sister in law who is 56 does about 24 mins and isn't a serious runner, she runs to keep fit but only does parkrun, she isn't in a club and doesn't enter races, so 26 mins isn't unreasonable.

    As well as training at 5k try running a shorter distances eg 4x1k at 26 minute pace so that you learn what it's like, there's a big difference between 35 min and 26 min pace, intervals help a lots and it's difficult to just run the full 5k and try to be faster. Ultimately you need to be doing 4x1 at faster than 26min pace.

    Gym is fine but you also need to do proper running outside!

    Even though it's 20 miles to a parkrun I'd say go and do it occasionally to find out if you are close to your target pace, have a look on their facebook page and see if anyone else goes from where you live so you can carshare. Also, there are new ones starting all the time so it might have been 20 miles last time you looked but there might be a new one so keep checking. 

  • Hi. I'd say 26 minutes is quite a challenge for you. I'm 50, fairly fit, but not a serious runner. I can do it in around 24 minutes. Funnily enough I can do 10k in around 44 mins. I find 5k too short to really get warmed up. 

    Anyway, good luck, and let us know how you get on. 

  • To add, I find a heart rate monitor really useful. You can see how hard you are pushing yourself.

  • Paul, don't you warm up before you do the 5k?

  • 26 is a decent time image good luck. 

  • Never warm up, just run.

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