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The Anatomy of a 5K Race

A 5K race – if run at your very best – recruits 100% of your slow-twitch fibers, 87% of your intermediate fast-twitch fibers, and 55% of your super fast-twitch fibers.

That translates to…

  • 95% of your maximal aerobic capacity
  • 60% of your maximal speed
  • 15% anaerobic contribution
  • 6.2mmol blood lactate/liter

Training for a 5K Race

Training for the 5K is in some ways similar to the 10K, half-marathon, or marathon – but it is not the same. The following 7 intensities should be used to maximize the necessary adaptations for a 5K peak performance.

General endurance: Steady to M-pace

Aerobic support: HM/lactate threshold pace

Direct endurance support: 10K pace

Race-specific: 5K pace (obviously)

Direct speed support: 3K pace

Anaerobic support: 1500m pace

General speed: 800m – 400m pace

It is not feasible, however, to train all of the above-mentioned intensities simultaneously. This would inevitably lead to overtraining, burnout, and injuries. Instead, I use a periodization model with focus blocks of 2 – 3 weeks. In each phase, no more than 2 of the 7 intensities are emphasized.

This particular method is called block periodization. It is a hybrid of linear and non-linear periodization that allows for long-term progress as well as frequent racing year-round across multiple distances since all physiological parameters – such as VO2max, lactate threshold, and stride power – are maintained at all times.

Block periodization is arguably the most advanced training method to date. It will enable you to break stagnation and set new personal records.

Hi! I'm Sandro Sket, a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist from Germany. As an athlete I have won multiple awards in middle-distance and long-distance running events. My training plans combine science-based principles with the practical methods of professional athletes.
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (CSCSs) are professionals who apply scientific knowledge to train athletes for the primary goal of improving athletic performance. They design and implement safe and effective strength training and conditioning programs.

5K Training Plans

Faster times at the 5K are not just the result of training more or harder. Real progress begins by maximizing aerobic fitness, muscular power, and race-specific endurance—in the right order.

Train with the block periodization method to set a new personal record at your next 5K race.

Elevate your aerobic capacity (VO2max)
Boost your lactate threshold/tolerance
Increase your neuromuscular power
Upgrade your fatigue resistance
Improve your running economy

5K Intermediate

8-week plan
4 running days/week
20 miles/week (32 km/week)

5K Advanced

8-week plan
4 - 6 running days/week
30 miles/week (48 km/week)

5K Pre-Elite

8-week plan
5 - 7 running days/week
40 miles/week (64 km/week)