How do I run a 5k in 25 minutes or less? This is a common running goal for a lot of runners who have a few races under their belt.

Running a 5k in 25 minutes or less should not be underestimated.

There’s a decent amount of training that needs to go into your training plan in order to get you where you want to be.

5k in 25 minutes or less

When I first started running all those years ago, 5k was a distance that I enjoyed building up to.

I took it in my stride as running a 5k wasn’t so much about being fast as it was about being able to actually run for 30 minutes or more without stopping.

As the years have gone by, I’ve seen a 5k as more of a challenge with myself. It’s a great way to build on your endurance and strength as a runner.

Running a 5k is also a versatile way to include different types of runs in your training plan if you’re training for a longer distance, like a half marathon or marathon.

Over the years, I’ve managed to get my 5k PB down to 22.18. This works out as roughly 7.20 per mile.

Although running isn’t all about race times for me, it’s always good to be able to show that you’re improving and getting faster.

I like to experiment with training routines, as something that works for someone else will not always work for you.

But there are some core strategies that you can adopt in order to help you get a 5k race time of 25 minutes or less.

Here are my top strategies to help you run a 5k in 25 minutes or less.

Break your times down

If you want to run a 5k in 25 minutes or less, this means you have to run at a pace around 8 minutes per mile.

This may sound unachievable to you right now, but with the right training and mindset, you will be able to adjust your timings.

If you’ve run a 5k already, you can calculate how much faster you’ll need to go in order to hit the 25 minute mark.

A good way to work it out is do a time trial. Warm up then run a mile as fast as you can.

Multiply that by 3.1 to estimate your 5k time.

You probably won’t be able to sustain your fastest mile three times over, but it gives you an idea of what you need to work towards.

Follow a training plan

An average training plan for a 5k in 25 minutes or less is about 8 weeks.

Of course, there will be other factors that may mean your training plan is a lot longer than this. For example, if you’ve never run a 5k before, it would not be sensible to aim for a 25 minute 5k.

Your training plan should include three to four runs per week: one long run, one tempo run or interval workout, and one or two easy runs.

The long runs could be anything from three to seven miles. Start small in week 1 of your plan, then gradually build up your mileage as you reach week 8.

Your easy run should be easy. I recommend a pace of about 10:30 per mile.

Do interval training

Interval training is a great way to increase your speed, endurance and stamina.

Intervals are short bursts of running at your desired 5k pace with rest and recovery periods in between.

They are designed to make you feel uncomfortable and push you out of your comfort zone.

A typical interval workout is 4 x 400m of running with recovery jogs in between. You should aim to run each 400m interval at your 5k pace – so whatever you clocked for your fastest mile.

As your training plan progresses, you may want to increase the amount of intervals. For example:

  • Week 1 – 3 x 400m

  • Week 2 – 4 x 400m

  • Week 3 – 4 x 400m

  • Week 4 – 5 x 400m

  • Week 5 – 6 x 400m

  • Week 6 – 7 x 400m

  • Week 7 – 8 x 400m

  • Week 8 – 6 x 400m

Make sure you schedule in enough recovery time between each interval. One or two minutes should be fine.

Do tempo runs

As with interval training, tempo runs are a great way to build your speed, endurance and stamina.

Also known as threshold runs, tempo runs are extended efforts of running that is about 30 seconds slower than your 5k race pace.

A good way to include tempo runs in your training routine is to book-end them during your easy run.

So your easy run could look like this:

  • Warm up

  • 15-20 minutes of tempo running (your 5k race pace + 30 seconds per mile)

  • 35-45 minute easy run (10:30-11:00 pace per mile)

  • 15-20 minutes of tempo running (your 5k race pace + 30 seconds per mile)

  • Cool down

The important thing to remember with tempo runs is that you stick to your planned pace throughout the tempo run.

Strength train

Tempo runs and intervals help to build strength in your legs.

It’s also a good idea to include strength workouts in your training plan at least twice a week.

Strength training can take the form of bodyweight exercises (like squats, lunges, push-ups, hip bridges, planks) or exercises using free weights (like deadlifts, kettlebell swings, weighted lunges, weighted squats, weighted hip bridges).

If you’re new to strength training, I recommend you start with bodyweight exercises and gradually build up into free weight exercises from there.

Focus on doing 8-12 repetitions of each exercise with 1 minute rest in between, and repeat these 3 times.

A good beginner strength workout circuit could include:

  • Squats – 8-12 reps

  • Lunges – 8-12 reps

  • Push-ups – 8-12 reps

  • Hip bridges – 8-12 reps

  • Planks – 8-12 reps

Compound movements (e.g. movements that use the whole body) are a great way for runners to build their strength.

5k in 25 minutes or less

Strengthen your core

Your core is extremely important when running.

A good core means you are able to hold a strong and stable position for longer, thus allowing you hold proper form and posture.

The muscles in your back, stomach and hips are key components for good core strength and all work together to create good posture.

They also help you stand upright, transfer energy and distribute the stress of bearing weight on two legs.

Related: 7 essential core exercises to make you a stronger and faster runner

Perfect your form

Believe it or not, proper running form can shave valuable seconds off your running times.

By making small adjustments to your posture and form, you can help your body move with less effort.

Try not to look at the ground when running – keep your gaze upright and forward. Imagine you have a helium balloon attached to your head with a piece of string.

This is what we call ‘running tall’. Lift your chin and retract your shoulders back slightly.

You’ll find that once you start to raise your hips, the other parts of your body, including your chest and shoulders, will also straighten up.

Swing your arms. How you hold and swing your arms makes a big difference to your stride and performance.

Good arm swing can help you run faster, more efficiently and even lower your risk of injury as well as help stabilise your body.

Keep your arms by your sides and try and not let them cross your body. If you let your arms cross your body too much, it will cause rotation in your spine and thorax and will create inefficient running form.

Drive your elbows back, keep them close to the sides of your body and keep them relaxed to avoid stiffness in your shoulders.

Also remember to keep your elbows at a 90 degree angle.

Related: How to run properly: Running technique for beginners

Don’t forget to warm up

A good warm up on race day is essential if you want to run your best time.

Your warm up should include a good range of dynamic stretches to loosen your muscles and get your body ready for the run.

Dynamic stretches are meant to get the body moving, whilst static stretches (normally used in the cool down) are held for a specific length of time.

Related: 8 dynamic stretches to try before your next run

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