15k Training Plan | 15k Run in Miles Tips

Are you seeking a new way to form up your 15k training plan? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. 15 kilometers is 9.3 miles in length. It is a great tune up distance for the 10 mile, half-marathon and marathon races. One of the biggest issues for most runners is pace sustainment. How can you hold 15k run goal race pace longer without slowing down.

My goal with this post is to share with you some strategies to help you perform better. The key goal here is to improve the athlete’s lactate tolerance. Easy running is still very important. That being said, you have to train at paces that are significantly faster than your 15km run goal race pace

How to Improve Your 15km Run Time

Consistency is everything. We have three choices in this life. We can choose to be average, good or great. No one can make that choice for you. The world’s best middle to long distance runners spend a higher percentage of their weekly mileage at higher intensities. Is it any wonder they make it look so easy? How prepared can you be to maintain race pace if you are running 100 miles a week 3 minutes slower than race pace?

15k training plan
Coach Pennington finishing as the top American and in 4th place at the 2007 California International Marathon in 2:19:35

Yes, you will be extremely fit and have strong endurance. That being said, you will not be able to outrun the athlete who has train adequately at harder, anaerobic efforts. So, a 15k training plan needs to follow these guidelines in order to help you to get legitimate results. I would recommend focusing on a minimum of 3 and preferably 4 weeks or more of easy running before you start your build up.

Remember, fitness cannot be rushed. In addition, it takes around 21 days to 4 weeks for your body to adapt to the stresses you are placing on it. So, focus on aerobic running first along with doing strides twice per week. Strides are too short to build up large amounts of lactic acid. You can still do these 50m to 100m acceleration drills on top of your other weekly workouts.

How Long Does it Take to Train for a 15K?

I believe the optimal time frame to prepare properly for a 15k is 12 to 20 weeks. Of course, duration will vary depending on the athlete’s work schedule. There are not many athletes who can train full time. The majority of us have at what time or currently do work a full-time or part-time. So, you have to pick the best training duration that fits your schedule best.

I have created training plans here at RunDreamAchieve for athletes focused on the mile up to the 50km distances. The 4 specific areas we focus on the most are the following…

  • Aerobic base-building phase
  • 15k race specific training phase
  • Speed development training phase
  • Taper phase

I a a firm believer in a 10-day rather than a 3-week taper. I think a lot of runners get this wrong. The problem is they start dropping their mileage and intensity too far out from their goal race. I don’t want that for you. So, you should only start dropping significant volume and intensity 10 days out. 10 days is plenty of time to recover and fully rest prior to your goal 15km race. My 15k training plan options here focus on that.

Can I Run a 15K without Training?

Yes. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend it though. Are you doing the race for fun or for a specific race time? If it is for fun then you can try but you may have to jog, walk and run throughout the race. Is it to run under a specific goal time? If so, then you most certainly will need to start focusing on training at, close to or far below your goal 15k race pace.

Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I make new videos there each week to help runners such as yourself make the next big leap in their training. You are also more than welcome to visit the about page if you would like to know more about my racing background. I would also highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 and it helps me focus on staying in the correct heart rate zone.

15K Training Plan for Beginners

Are you totally new to this event or are you completely out of shape currently? If so, you can quickly see legitimate results in a matter of weeks. Remember, you have to be patient with yourself and don’t rush your fitness. Great results take several weeks and months. Yes, it may be difficult at first. The best runners also have to experience the feeling of being out of shape too.

As mentioned above, a good aerobic base building approach is what our 15k training plan options focus on. The initial weeks are mainly aerobic runs, strides and very moderate-level workouts. You should start focusing on 15k race specific workouts only after you have laid a strong foundation of mileage first.

Strength training is important but I would advise spending more than 1 day a week in the gym. Focus on lifting light weights and high reps. Also, work on strengthening the running muscles of the body. For example, the glutes, hamstrings, core and shoulders. Medical ball drills, box jumps, planks, site ups and push ups are all adequate to help improve your form.

How Do I Train for a 15KM Race?

Spend a higher percentage of your weekly training running at or below your goal 15k race pace. Remember, the goal is to get that race pace to feel more like marathon race pace. Easy running won’t produce that physiological adaptation, only fast running. I believe athletes should consider running their long runs at faster, varied paces.

I was able to lower my 10 mile from 53:12 to 50:54 and half marathon from 1:10.29 to 1:07.06 using this tactic. In addition, lowered my marathon from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. So, I know it works. No, it is not easy and you don’t want to do faster long runs until you have gotten into great aerobic and anaerobic shape. Below are some examples of the types of varied paced long runs I was doing prior to running 2:19 for the marathon.

  • 2 mile jog, 7 miles@5:45 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 2 miles@5:20 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 5 miles@5:35 mile pace, 1 mile jog (22 miles)
  • 1 mile jog, 8 miles@5:30 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 3 miles@5:15 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:00, 3 miles@6:00 mile pace, 1 mile jog (21 miles)

Remember, always follow a harder long run followed the next week by an easy, relaxed long run. I just don’t want you running long, slow and easy every single weekend. The benefits of your hard training are going to come from within the rest period. So, what you do the hours after these workouts are going to be what counts most.

Is a 15K Run Hard?

It is much easier if you have trained properly for it. It is very hard if you have not. Longer tempo runs are also very important. Of course, you will need to first be able to do a 2 to 3 mile tempo run successfully before you ever get to 10 to 14 miles. I think the optimal duration for your tempo runs should be anywhere from 7 to 10 miles (16 kilometers).

Again, the longer you can spend running at your anaerobic threshold the better. We run between 85 to 88 percent of your maximum heart rate running at this intensity. So, major physiological adaptations occur by running this fast. Heart rate will vary depending the age of the athlete.

I usually did my tempo runs between 167 to 173 beats per minute when I was in my 30s. I am in my mid 40s at the time of this post. So, tempo heart rate will is around 160-62 BPM now.

Speed Work

I recommend you focus on doing 1, vo2 max workout per week. Again, the goal here is to get 15k race pace to feel more like half marathon or marathon race pace instead. The only way to make this come about is training at closer to your 1 mile to 5k race pace. We are running between 95 to 100 percent of our maximum heart rate running at the vo2 max.

Your vo2 max is your body’s maximum oxygen uptake. You are running so fast you can’t clear lactic acid faster than it is building up. Naturally, we will need to stop, take a break and then attack the next track or road interval. I wouldn’t start your next interval or repetition until your heart rate is back down to 120 BPM. Below are some examples of speed workouts you may see in our 15k training plan options.

  • Road intervals i.e. 8x1K, 4-6x1mile etc.
  • Track intervals i.e. 14-16x400m, 6-8x800m, 10-12x200m etc
  • Fartlek workouts i.e 20x1min hard followed by 1 minute easy and variations thereof
  • Hill repetitions i.e 10x200m, 8-12x300m etc.

Closing Thoughts

I hope this post on what should be included in a 15k training plan has been helpful to you. Remember, focus on quality and don’t get too hyped up on volume. High mileage is not a guarantee that you will get a new personal best over the 15k run distance. How often are you practicing your goal race pace is key. Also, are you running easy enough during your recovery days.

There is only so many times you can stress the body before you get diminished returns. So, be smart in your build up. Make sure you are practicing drinking during your long runs. The best runner drink and don’t sip in their races. You may be able to get away with that in a 5k but not a 10k and most certainly not a 15k race. Have any other questions? Reach out to me anytime at nathanpennington [at] protonmail [dot] com.

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