20 Minute 5K Training Plan | 2:19 Marathoner Tips

Are you seeking a sub 20 minute 5k training plan? If so, I am happy you have made it here to RunDreamAchieve. A time of 19:59 for 5 kilometers comes out to 6:26 per mile for 3.1 miles or 4:00 per kilometer for 5 consecutive kilometers. So, pace sustainment is the end goal. You can be running high mileage and still never break the 20 minute 5k barrier. That being said, if you follow a sub 20 5k training plan correctly your chances of success will rise.

The good news is that you don’t need to run high mileage to run a fast 5km race. You do have to focus on your speed development though. The 5k race distance is a highly anaerobic event versus the marathon which is more of an aerobic event.

I would recommend running 4 weeks nice and easy so you build your base mileage first. Also, that you are doing strides twice per week. The great news is that strides are too short to build up any large amounts of lactic acid. So, you can do these short 50 to 100-meter long gradual accelerations on top of the other workouts that you are doing. I have built these into the sub 20 minute 5k training plan options available to you here at RunDreamAchieve.

How Long Does it Take to Train for a 20 Minute 5K?

I would recommend at least 8 weeks and preferably 12 to 16 weeks to train properly. Remember, it takes the body about 4 weeks to adapt to any stress load you are placing on it. So, a longer build up is always better than short training block. The reason being is you will not be rushing your fitness. One of the best things you can do is invest in a heart rate monitor.

I use the Garmin 245 which helps me to run at the correct paces throughout the week. Heart rate monitors will ensure you are not running too slow on fast days. In addition, that you don’t run too fast on easy days. Again, recovery is key. So, you want to ensure that you are adapting to the hard training that you are doing. Remember, there is only so many times you can stress the energy systems of the body. You definitely do not want diminished returns on your time investment.

How Can I Cover a 5k in 20 Minutes?

I would focus on not trying to make a move in this race until you hit the first mile. So, make the race an all out 2.1 mile race. I see far too many runners going out too aggressive in their races. The result is they go into oxygen debt and are forced to slow down. Remember, you can have all the motivation in the world and you fail to pace yourself correctly, it won’t matter.

So, wait until you pass the first 1.6 kilometers of the race and then start to increase your pace. Also, do your best to run a negative split. In addition, a sub 20 minute 5k training plan has to emphasize training below goal pace. You have to get 6:26 mile or 4:00 kilometer pace to feel easier. Again, this will take time. I would recommend focusing on a minimum of 12 weeks and preferably 16 weeks for your 5k.

I would also recommend doing the best you can to stay as relaxed as you can while racing. You can practice lessening muscular tension in training. So, consciously tell yourself to calm down and relax when you feel your face tightening or your shoulders rising. Form matters when it comes to running a great 5k time like sub 20 minutes.

How Hard is it to Run Sub 20 5K?

It is a challenge for most runners. That being said, if other runners have done it then so can you. It is just a matter of training properly and being consistent with your training. Also, not being in a rush. Again, the longer you can prepare for a sub 20 minute 5k, the better. What has been the longest tempo run you have done preparing for your 5k races in the past?

2 miles? 3 miles? I would aim to get that tempo run lengthened out to around 5 to 6 miles (8-10 kilometers). Of course, you will first need to adapt to a 2 to 3 miler before you can work toward a 5 to 6-mile tempo run.

That being said, the longer you can spend training at your anaerobic threshold, the better. The reason being is you will be improving your body’s lactate tolerance. Again, you want to sustain race pace longer than your competition. Easy running is important for recovery and building endurance. That being said, will not help you when it comes to running an all out 5k. So, a legitimate 20 minute 5k training plan needs to emphasize training at aggressive paces.

How Fast Can You Improve 5K Time?

It can occur in a matter of weeks or months but it does take consistent and persistent work. You are either all in or lukewarm. Trained or untrained. So, you have to decide for yourself how badly you want success. There are certainly resources here at RunDreamAchieve to help you do that. I also high recommend subscribing to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I focus on making weekly videos there each week to help beginner to elite-level athletes set new personal bests.

The world’s top runners are running between 35 to 40 percent of their mileage at or below their lactate threshold. So, they are running around 85 to 89% of their max heart rate more often. Of course, they make running look easy for a reason. They are simply running at dramatically faster paces than the average runner. So, a legitimate 20 minute 5k training plan has to be organized to help you hold pace longer.

Work On Your Speed

We run between 95 to 100% of our maximum heart rate training at our vo2 max. One of the best ways to get sub 20 minute 5k race pace to feel easier is to train at significantly faster paces. Of course, this is not fun and will challenge you to the max. That being said, over a 8 to 16 week block of training your goal race pace will feel easier. Our vo2 max is our bodies maximum oxygen uptake. It is training at paces that are so aggressive that we can’t clear lactic acid faster than it is building up.

Naturally, we have to stop and take short breaks between our track or road intervals. Hill repetitions, fartlek workouts and faster long runs are all examples of vo2 max workouts. You should be doing at least 1, vo2max workout per week. The sub 20 minute 5k training plan options available here have these already built in. You should also not be running long, slow and easy every single weekend for your long runs.

So, start varying the paces of your long runs. I used this tactic to drop my 5K PR from 15:19 to 14:18. It also helped me to lower my 10 mile PR from 55:32 to 50:54. Again, dropping time comes from training at paces that are faster than goal race pace. In addition, jogging on recovery days so that you adapt to these faster, more anaerobic efforts.

Closing Thoughts

I also recommend you start implementing mental visualization into your routine. Remember, you need to train the mind just like you train the body to break a sub 20 minute 5k time. It has to happen in the mind before it will ever occur in real life. I see far too many runners getting this wrong. They focus all their attention on physical training and bypass mental training altogether.

So, don’t make this same mistake. The world’s top runners combine both mental as well as physical training. I used this strategy to run 14:18 for 5K. I also used it to help me run 2:19:35 for the marathon. You are more than welcome to visit the about page if you would like to know more about my racing background. I hope that this post has been helpful. Keep me updated on your progress. Be sure to check out the many resources available to you here at RunDreamAchieve.

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