Home > Training

5 workouts to crush your fastest 5K

These speed sessions will help you smash your PB

barbados 5k Photo by: Inge Johnson CRS

The 5K is often an underrated distance, but runners who have invested significant time perfecting it understand that when you push yourself to run at high intensity, it can be one of the most challenging distances. Achieving a fast 5K demands extensive time and training, but it’s crucial to make sure you’re doing the right speedwork to enhance your top-end speed. These five workouts are designed to assist you in precisely that, helping you crush your 5K personal best.

Workout 1: speedwork for beginners

If you’re new to running and haven’t done much speedwork, this workout is a great place to start. It may look easy on paper, but 10 intervals get tough over time. If you’re a little more experienced, you can try reducing the rest interval to one minute and increasing the length of your warmup and cooldown by five minutes, so you’re still spending the same amount of time on your feet.

Warmup: 10 minutes of easy jogging

Workout: 10 x (one minute at 80 per cent of your max speed/two minutes easy jog recovery)

Cooldown: 10 minutes of easy jogging

track workout

Workout 2: alternating 400s

No 5K training program would be complete without 400m repeats. Every runner, from novices to Olympians, does 400m intervals when preparing for the 5K. If you don’t have a track, you can do this by running for two minutes hard followed by three minutes easy.

Warmup: 10 minutes of easy jogging, followed by 2-3 30-second quick strides 

Workout: 6 x (400m hard/400m jog recovery)

Cooldown: 10 minutes of easy jogging

Workout 3: speed endurance

The key to running a successful 5K is being able to run near your max for the entire distance. This workout takes the 400s and pushes you to maintain that speed for longer, with less recovery. This is a tough, but important, workout. As with the 400s, if you don’t have a track, you can do this on the road, running for four minutes hard with a two-minute jog recovery.

Warmup: 10 minutes of easy jogging, followed by 2-3 30-second quick strides

Workout: 4 x (800m hard/400m jog recovery)

Cooldown: 10 minutes of easy jogging

Track Workout
Photo: Canadian Running

Workout 4: the ladder

The ladder is a classic 5K workout. The goal here is to maintain a consistent speed for each interval as you climb the ladder (i.e., as the intervals get longer), then try to gradually speed up as you head back down the ladder.

Warmup: 10 minutes of easy jogging

Workout: (All reps should be done at your 5K goal pace or faster)

30s hard/30s easy

one minute hard/one minute easy

two minutes hard/two minutes easy

three minutes hard/three minutes easy

two minutes hard/two minutes easy

one minute hard/one minute easy

30 seconds hard/30 seconds easy

Cooldown: 10 minutes of easy jogging

Workout 5: 1K repeats

One-kilometre repeats is the ultimate 5K test workout. If you’re wondering whether you can maintain your goal pace for the entire distance, this session is a good test. For more advanced runners, you can do this workout once near the beginning of your training program and once a couple of weeks out from your goal race to gauge how much you’ve progressed.

Warmup: 10 minutes of easy jogging, followed by 2-3 30-second quick strides

Workout: 5 x (1 kilometre at goal 5K pace/two minutes rest)

Cooldown: 10 minutes of easy jogging

Check out the latest buyer's guide:

Stylish running gear you’ll want to wear all day

Performance and style come together with our best picks for stylish running gear