Guy jogging and checking smart watch between workout jogging outdoors.
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Race a 5-Miler In Just 6 Weeks With This Training Plan

Whether you want to PR or just finish, this training plan can help you jump from a 5K to a 5-miler. Here's how to choose the proper effort.

Guy jogging and checking smart watch between workout jogging outdoors.

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If you want to run a 5K, it’s not hard to find one. Same thing with 10Ks. But a 5-miler is harder to come by. Thankfully this dearth is being addressed with new races popping up across the country.

Why should you care? Because the 5-mile distance is the perfect stepping stone for beginning runners who have completed one or more 5Ks and are ready to move up in distance, but perhaps aren’t quite ready for a 10K.

It’s also a great distance for more experienced runners who are looking to run faster times. Building the speed and aerobic strength you need to run your best 5-miler will make you a stronger runner all around and help you improve at other race distances.

Set a Goal

If you are fit enough to complete a 5K, you can prepare for a successful 5-mile experience in just six weeks. Choose our Just Finish training plan to focus on building your mileage. If you are gunning for a time goal, you should be able to at least jog 5 miles already and should follow the Go for Time version.

Dial-in Your Effort

This training plan employs a simple, three-zone intensity scale:

  • Easy is a comfortable jog that allows you to speak in full sentences without losing your breath.
  • Moderate corresponds to the highest speed you could sustain for 30 minutes if you’re a newer runner—or 60 minutes if you’re already in pretty good shape.
  • Hard is about 80 percent of the effort level you could sustain for the required distance, which means a 30-second hard effort should be run a little faster than a 1-minute hard effort, a 1-minute effort would be faster than a 2-minute hard effort and so on.

How to Cross-Train

Some workouts may be done either as a run or a cross-training session. If you choose to cross-train, select a legs-dominant, non-impact cardio activity, such as the elliptical or bicycling.

New to a 5-miler? Here’s pacing 101

When you are running a race at an unfamiliar distance, pacing it can be challenging. You’ll get your best result if your pace is consistent throughout the entire event, though expect to run slower climbing hills and faster when going down them. Here’s some advice based on our two training plans:

Just Finish

Naturally, if your goal is just to finish, pacing is a little easier. Start at an effort level you are confident you can sustain the whole way, erring on the side of caution. Use the experience you’ve gained in your longer training runs as a guide. For example, if you were starting to bonk near the end of your 4.5-miler, start your 5-miler at a slightly slower pace.

Go For Time

If you want to go for time, choose a goal pace for your 5-miler that is 12- to 18-seconds per mile slower than the pace you ran in your best or most recent 5K (closer to 12 seconds if you’re a faster runner, closer to 18 seconds for slower runners). If your most recent 5K time was 26 minutes (8:22 per mile), aim to run around 43 minutes (8:36 per mile) in your 5-miler.

If you don’t nail it the first time (starting too fast and slowing near the end, or starting too slow and finishing with gas left in the tank), don’t sweat it—the practice will help you nail your next 5-miler!

6 Week Training Plan

Click on the plan to open in a new window and print!

5-miler Training Plan


From PodiumRunner Lead Photo: Getty Images