5K intermediate training plan

5K Intermediate Training Plan

Ready to run a faster 5K? You are in the right place. Find 8, 12, and 16-week sub 23:00, 22:00, 21:00, and 20:00 plans.

Not an intermediate runner? Check out the beginner or advanced plan.

The key to running a faster 5K is improving endurance, lactate threshold (and lactate tolerance), VO2 max, and speed. You can develop these physiological abilities by optimizing three training variables:

  1. Effective 5K workouts
  2. A balanced training week
  3. Intelligent training progression

Effective 5K Workouts

For a fast 5K time, avoiding weaknesses in any training zone is essential. However, unlike for longer races, VO2 max and speed training are given more importance. The 5K intermediate training plan features 12 training zones and sub-zones: 

  • Recovery run
  • Easy run / Long run
  • Moderate pace
  • Marathon pace
  • 30K pace (aerobic threshold)
  • HM pace
  • 15K pace (lactate threshold)
  • 10K pace
  • 5K pace
  • 3K pace (VO2 max)
  • 1500m pace
  • Power

The 5K Intermediate Training Week

The 5-day running week includes 2 key workouts and 1 weekend long run. In case you wish to modify the plan to a four-day running week, you can either cross out one easy run or replace it with aerobic cross-training. You also have the option to schedule your long run on Saturday and start your first workout on Monday or postpone the entire week by one day with your long run on Sunday and the first workout scheduled on Tuesday. 

  1. Key workout 1
  2. Easy
  3. Key workout 2
  4. Long run
  5. Easy

Intelligent 5K Training Progression

The 5K intermediate training plans consist of three phases: base training, support training, and race-specific. The training progression follows funnel periodization, starting with general intensities and gradually moving towards race-specific efforts. 

Base Training

During the 6-week base phase the focus is on building your general endurance and speed. You gradually increase your weekly mileage, and some easy runs include hill sprints to help develop muscular power for the next training phase. Essentially, this phase is all about preparing your body for the following training phase. 

  1. Easy + hill sprints
  2. Easy + hill sprints
  3. Moderate
  4. Long run
  5. Easy

Support Training

The 6-week support phase improves your speed, lactate tolerance, VO2 max, and lactate threshold. This phase begins with endurance and speed support, meaning two race distances above and below your 5K pace. Then, it transitions to direct endurance and direct speed support, optimizing performance with one race distance above or below your 5K race pace.  This not only helps with 5K pace training in the next phase, but it also prevents peaking too soon. 

  1. Intervals 3K/1500m pace
  2. Easy
  3. Tempo Mar/HM/15K pace
  4. Long Run + fast finish
  5. Easy


During the last few weeks before your race, it’s important to focus on your 5K goal pace. This means doing longer workouts at your 5K pace and taking shorter rest breaks in between. Your most challenging race-specific workout will be 10 days before race day. After that, you will start to gradually taper your training to arrive at the starting line fresh and rested.  

  1. 5K/3K pace
  2. Easy
  3. 10K pace
  4. Long Run
  5. Easy

Customizing the 5K Intermediate Training Plan

You can choose from 48 different versions based on 4 criteria:

  • Time goal 23:00, 22:00, 21:00, or 20:00
  • Plan duration of 8, 12, or 16 weeks
  • Imperial or metric (miles or km)
  • TrainingPeaks or FinalSurge

5K Intermediate Training Plans



Sub 23:00 min

18 - 26 mi per week, across 5 runs
  • Available in 8, 12, 16 weeks
  • Syncs to your Garmin
  • Email coach access

Sub 22:00 min

20 - 30 mi per week, across 5 runs
  • Available in 8, 12, 16 weeks
  • Syncs to your Garmin
  • Email coach access

Sub 21:00 min

22 - 34 mi per week, across 5 runs
  • Available in 8, 12, 16 weeks
  • Syncs to your Garmin
  • Email coach access

Sub 20:00 min

25 - 37 mi per week, across 5 runs
  • Available in 8, 12, 16 weeks
  • Syncs to your Garmin
  • Email coach access

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