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Weekly Workout: Get on track for faster 5K and 10K races

Shorter races such as the 5 and 10K are abundant and offer a perfect opportunity to test your speed and strength yet require less total training.

Track Workout


Track Workout
Photo: Matt Stetson.


Spring is the favourite season for many runners. When spring rolls around, race season has finally arrived. The long, cold and dark Canadian winter however often makes it difficult to get in the necessary training for longer races. Shorter races such as 5K and 10K are the perfect compromise and are still among the most popular race distances.

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Training for a 5K or 10K takes less time than doing so for a longer race. It can be done in as little as four to eight weeks. For many runners, it also means faster, fun workouts that develop speed and strength. These workouts use shorter intervals that are ideal for the track and won’t require much more than a digital watch.

The following are sample workouts, organized by difficulty, that can help you get the most out of an upcoming 5K or 10K race. You should aim to run at (or very close to) your goal race pace. If you don’t know what that might be, run “hard,” between 6 and 8 on a discomfort scale, where 1 is an easy walk and 10 is an all-out sprint. Regardless of your speed/pace, aim to run each interval in roughly the same amount of time. Also be sure to avoid starting too fast or else you’ll slow down or not finish. Walk or slowly jog for recovery between intervals.

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Training for 5K

Beginner: 6-10 x 400m @5KP with 200m rest/recovery between intervals

Intermediate: 4-5 x 800m @5KP with 400m rest/recovery between intervals

Advanced: 3-4 x 1200m @5KP with 400m rest/recovery between intervals

Pro/Elite: 3 x 1600m @5KP with 400m rest/recovery between intervals

Training for 10K

Beginner: 6-8 x 800 @10KP with 400m rest/recovery between intervals

Intermediate: 5-6 x 1200 @10KP with 400m rest/recovery between intervals

Advanced: 4-5 x 1600m @10KP with 800m rest/recovery between intervals

Pro/Elite: 4 x 2000m @10KP w 800m rest/recovery between intervals

As always, begin each workout with a warm-up consisting of 10-15 minutes of very easy running followed by a few minutes for dynamic drills, stretches and strides. Follow the workout by cooling down with a final 5-15 minutes of easy running.