A 5k is popular amongst runners all over the world, and whether you’re running in a race or off for your morning jog, it still remains one of the simplest ways to get into running.
With so many different training programs, it’s easier than ever to get your running shoes on and build up the distance at your own pace.
In this article, we are going to go through some helpful tips on how to start your 5k and how to eventually get your time down to 25 minutes or less. However, running a 5k in less than 25 minutes is not an easy task.
It should not be underestimated and it requires a lot of hard work and training. This guide however will talk you through how to improve your time if you already have your 5k covered and are looking to improve your time, as well as give you some handy tips and tricks.
Warming up before a run is vital if you want to avoid injury whilst reaching your best time. This means it is essential not only on race day but also on practice runs.
This warm-up should always include a wide range of dynamic stretches, in order to loosen up the muscles and get your body moving, ready to run.
Dynamic stretches are used by runners to get the body up and moving, whereas static stretches, which are normally used in a cool down, are held for a specific amount of time.
Stretching is not the only way to warm up however and you might also want to include various running drills to get you prepared. Running drills are excellent for improving both form and performance and are often incorporated in a dynamic warm-up before a race, or a hard speed workout.
You can do them as a standalone session, where you focus on only one or two technical skills but they are more often used as a warm-up. If you are doing them as part of a standalone session, ensure your warm-up before completing any other drills.
Running drills should be done on average around two times a week for you to benefit from them and as with all sports and training methods, the more consistent you are, the better results you will get.
Additionally, running drills can be performed by all runners, meaning wherever you are in your training to run a 5k in 25 minutes, or even when training to simply get the distance up first, they’re suitable and can help you improve as a runner.
However, if you are returning to running after an injury, be careful with this as they often involve high impact forces, and this could make your injury worse, or predispose you to another injury.
Some of our favorite running drills include butt kicks, high knees, A-skips and B-skips, the carioca drill, straight-leg bounds, forward lunges, and quick feet.
In all the running drills we have mentioned, ensure you maintain a tall posture, your chest is up high, you keep your head up, you maintain high hips, and you look towards the horizon.
Breaking Your Time Down
If you want to know how to run a 5k in under 25 minutes, one of the first things you need to get a grasp of is pacing yourself. If you want to run a 5k in under 25 minutes, this means you need to be running at an average of about 8 minutes per mile.
Right now, we know this might seem impossible but with enough training and the right mindset, you will be able to adjust your timings accordingly.
If you can already run a 5k, you can calculate how much faster you will need to run to be able to run it in under 25 minutes. A good way to work this out is to do a time trial.
Warm yourself up and then run just one mile as fast as you can. Multiply this by 3.1 and this will give you an estimate of what your 5k time will be.
You might not be able to sustain this pace for three miles just yet, but it’s a good place to start and will give you an idea of what you need to be aiming for.
The main thing with working out your pacing is to be consistent. Try to maintain the same pace throughout your training and this will help you get your running up to a sustained pace which your body is able to get used to.
Tempo running is a great place to start with this and once included in your training plan, will help you work towards that sustained pace. Tempo running is simply a form of speed training and if you want to run faster, it is essential to any training plan.
The end goal of tempo running is that your body will be able to run faster for a longer amount of time.
A tempo run however is a pace that is usually around 30 seconds slower than your 5k pace you would maintain in a race, and this is so you will be challenged enough without sprinting and feeling uncomfortable.
Following A Training Plan
An average training plan for a 5k in 25 minutes or even less is around 8 weeks long. Other factors that might mean your training plan is longer than this however would be if you’ve never run a 5k before. If this is the case, follow a plan to build up the distance before you start working on time.
An average training plan usually includes 3 to 4 runs a week. One of these should be a long run, another should be a tempo run or include interval training and the last one should be an easy run.
The long runs should be from around 5-11km. Your easy run should be easy and you should aim for a pace of around 10.30 minutes per mile or 6.31 minutes per kilometer.
You need to start small in the first week of your plan and build your distance up slowly as you aim for week 8.
Tempo runs, as we mentioned earlier in the article are great for building up speed, endurance, and stamina. They are also known as threshold runs and are at a pace about 25 to 30 seconds slower than your 5k race pace.
A way to include tempo runs in your training routine is to bookend them during your easy run. For example, starting with a warm-up, you could then include around 15-20 minutes of tempo running at your 5k race pace.
You could then do 35-45 minutes of your easy run. This would be around 10:30-11:00 pace per mile or 6:31-6:54 per kilometer. You could then also add 15-20 minutes of tempo running at your 5k race pace again. Don’t forget to cool down after this.
With a tempo run, you need to remember to stick to your planned pace throughout.
Interval training is the perfect way to increase speed, stamina, and endurance. These things combined can help you run longer without getting as tired.
Intervals are short bursts of running at the pace you wish to run your 5k in, with rest and recovery periods in between this. They are designed to make you feel slightly uncomfortable and push you out of your comfort zone.
A typical interval workout consists of 4 rounds of running 400m and includes smaller jogs to recover in between. You should try to run every one of the 400m intervals at your desired 5k pace. This will be the pace of your fastest mile.
When you progress in your training plan, you might need to increase the number of intervals in your training session. This can look like the following:
- Week 1 – 3 (400m)
- Week 2 – 4 (400m)
- Week 3 – 4 (400m)
- Week 4 – 5 (400m)
- Week 5 – 6 (400m)
- Week 6 – 7 (400m)
- Week 7 – 8 (400m)
- Week 8 – 6 (400m)
Ensure you schedule just the right amount of time to recover between each interval. Between one to two minutes for this should be enough.
It’s advised by experts in the running community to include strength workouts in your individual training plan and these should take place at least twice a week.
If you are new to strength training, ensure you follow a training plan and get the guidance off of a personal trainer if you feel you need to work on form and technique.
Strength training can take the form of multiple different bodyweight exercises from lunges, planks, and hip brides, to squats and push-ups. It can also include exercises such as free weights.
Free weights can take the form of deadlifts, weighted lunges, weighted hip bridges, kettlebell swings, or weighted squats.
If you haven’t begun strength training before now, we suggest you start with simple bodyweight exercises and then build up to other free weight exercises as you progress.
First, you need to focus on doing around 1-12 repetitions of each exercise and include a 1-minute rest in between these. Repeat these repetitions three times.
Moreover, compound movements, are movements that involve the whole body, and are a great way for you to build up enough strength to eventually run a 5k in less than 25 minutes.
Strengthening Your Core
Having a strong core is vital to improve endurance when running. A strong core means you can hold a stable position throughout your long runs and this allows you to hold proper form and posture.
Having a strong core will also aid your strength training considerably.
To improve that core strength, you need to have strong muscles in your back, hips, and stomach. These are the muscles required to work together to create good posture and improve form.
The same muscles also help you stand upright and allow you to transfer energy. This means you can distribute the stress of bearing weight on just two legs.
Core exercises we would recommend you try out are the plank, the side plank, V-ups, the superman pull, bicycle kicks, a glute bridge, and mountain climbers.
Perfecting Your Form
Proper running can shave valued time off your 5k runs and this applies to all distances. If you can make small adjustments to your posture and your form, this can help your body move with much less effort.
A lot of runners find themselves looking to the ground when they start to run, but if you keep your gaze upright and look forward this can help considerably.
A tip we like to share with runners is to picture yourself with a helium balloon attached to your head by a singular piece of string and run with your head held high as if it is pulling you up. This is referred to a ‘running tall’.
Lift your chin and retract your shoulders back, only slightly. You might find when you start to raise your hips, other parts of your body, including your chest and your shoulders, will follow and straighten up too.
You also need to take note of how you hold and swing your arms. This will make a significant difference to your stride and your performance.
If your arms swing properly, you can run faster, a lot more efficiently, and lower your risk of injury. You can also stabilize your entire body.
- Ensure you keep your arms by your sides and don’t let them cross over your body.
- If you do let your arms cross your body, it will cause a rotation in your spine and thorax and this will create improper and inefficient form.
- Driving your elbows back, make sure you keep them close to the side of your body and relax them enough that you don’t feel any stiffness in your shoulders.
- Keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle throughout your run.
Not only does your arm swing and posture play an important role in your running but running cadence also plays an important role in head-to-toe running form and technique. This is, fortunately, one of the easiest parts of running form to get right.
If you have a low cadence, you might have a longer stride. This means you will overstride on your run which means your foot lands in front of your body when running.
If you overstride, your heel hits the ground first. This causes impact forces to travel up your foot, and into your knees and hip. This can eventually cause stress and pressure in your leg, leading to injury.
The optimal cadence is about 170 steps every minute. This will vary depending on factors such as your weight, height, and how much running experience you have. It will also depend on how many miles you are running, in the case of this article, the equivalent of 5k.
To measure your cadence, start by counting the number of strides you take for 30 seconds then multiply this figure by two. Whilst doing this, ensure you maintain a consistent pace as you count. Once you have a baseline figure, you can increase your cadence incrementally.
Alongside cadence, foot striking is something you might want to consider. There are three different types of foot striking.
- Heel footstrike- your foot will land in front of your body and your heel hits the ground first.
- Mid-foot strike- your foot will land under or even in front of your hips and the middle of your foot will end up hitting the ground first.
- Forefoot footstrike- your foot will land under or in front of your hips and the front of your foot tends to hit the ground first.
Every runner’s footstrike is different and it can be key when it comes to proper form and technique. The mid-foot footstrike is usually seen as a happy medium in the running community.
This is because as your foot hits the ground, your weight is distributed evenly. This then reduces the amount of impact force up your leg and decreases your chances of sustaining an injury.
If you want to find out what kind of foot striker you are, ask someone to record you as you run from the side. Watch the video back and focus on your feet when they are hitting the ground.
We hope by reading this article, you have not only learned a few tips on how to better your 5k time, eventually so that you are running the distance in less than 25 minutes, but also that you have made a few notes on warm-up techniques, proper form and posture and what kinds of training plans can improve your running.
We promise with hard work, dedication, and practice, you will be able to run that 5k in less than 25 minutes in no time but remember to progress only at a level you are comfortable with to avoid injury and to keep running as enjoyable as possible!
Remember, running is supposed to be fun, let’s keep it that way as we train and get stronger, increasing our speed and improving our endurance and stamina at the same time!