5 Mile Run | Tips from a 2:19 Marathoner

Are you seeking a faster 5 mile run time? If so, I am glad you have made it here to RunDreamAchieve. The 5 mile or 8k distance is an aerobic event. That being said, it still has some anaerobic components to it too. It is shorter race as compared to the 10 miler, half marathon or marathon distances. So, you definitely have to work your speed in order to run fast over 5 miles.

I have created 5 mile training plans here at RunDreamAchieve for this very reason. A lot of runners guess what workouts they need to do each day. My goal was to create specific training plans designed for each specific race time. Remember, the end goal is to improve the body’s lactate tolerance. The only way to produce this physiological adaptation is faster, anaerobic workouts.

Easy running is important but will not teach us to sustain goal 5 mile run race pace pace. Faster, anaerobic workouts will. The world’s top runners make it look easy for a reason. It isn’t just because they are Kenyan or Ethiopian. It is because they spend a higher percentage of their weekly volume running at higher heart rates. In fact, they run around 40 percent of their weekly mileage at or below their anaerobic threshold.

How Long Should You Run 5 miles In?

We run between 85 to 89 percent of our max heart rate running at our anaerobic threshold. So, to achieve goal 5 mile run race pace you should extend the distance of your tempo runs. What has been the longest tempo run you have done in the past training for your 5 mile run efforts? 2 miles? 3? I would work on extending this out to around 7 to 9 miles in length.

You will be nearly doubling the distance of your 5 mile race distance. Imagine the amount of added strength and stamina you will gain from doing this. Of course, patience is key here. It takes the body between 3 to 4 weeks to adapt physiologically to the hard training that we do. So, great fitness cannot be rushed. I would highly recommend a minimum of 12 weeks and preferably 16 weeks to train properly for a 5 mile eace.

Is a 5 Mile Run a Good Workout?

Absolutely. I would say that running over 20 minutes is a legitimate workout. An average 5 mile run time will vary from athlete to athlete. It is very easy to go out too fast in the first mile of this event. The result for many runners is they are forced to slow down in the latter stages of the race. So, being patient in the first 2.5 miles of the race is vital to get a new personal best. I would focus on a minimum of 4 weeks of easy, aerobic base-building mileage before starting at 12 to 16 week 5 mile run training plan. In addition, I would also highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor.

I use the Garmin 245 watch myself regularly. It helps me to sustain the correct paces during easy runs, tempo runs, and long runs. In addition, ensures that I am not over training. Below are the heart rate zones you need to focus on for each specific intensity. Remember, these heart rate zones are based of a runner with a max heart rate of 170 beats per minute.

  • Easy: 65-74% of max HR or around 110-125BPM
  • Marathon (moderate effort): 75-84% of max HR or around 127-142BPM
  • Threshold: 85-89% of max HR or around 144-149BPM
  • Interval: 95-100% of max HR or around 161-170BPM

What is the World Record for 5 Miles?

The world record for the 5 mile run for men is 22:05 and for women, 24:27. Of course, these are the fastest times ever run for the distance. So, these are the true outliers of the event itself. I would recommend running a negative split if you are aiming to run a faster 5 mile time. As mentioned above, focus on effort and your heart rate if using a heart rate monitor.

A good way to get a good guesstimate of your max heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. Of course, you don’t want to wear a heart rate monitor in every workout that you do. That being said, a heart rate monitor will help you to better gauge the effort you are running at. I would also highly recommend doing at least 1, vo2 max workout per week.

We run between 95 to 100% of our max heart rate running at vo2 max effort. Remember, doing these types of workouts will help you to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers. The more of these we as athletes can recruit the more efficient we are going to race. Again, the end goal is to teach the body to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up. Easy running will not produce this physiological adaptation but fast running will.

5 Mile Run Training Plan

The 5 mile run training plans here at RunDreamAchieve have a strategic approach. I focus on 4 key areas of training for the athlete. They are…

  • Aerobic, base-building phase (light workouts with strides done twice per week)
  • Race specific training phase (running at or close to anaerobic threshold effort)
  • Speed development phase (we move into training at speeds considerable faster than goal 5 mile run race pace
  • Taper phase (lowering mileage and intensity at the proper time)

I am a big believer in a 10-day rather than doing a 3-week taper. A lot of runners make the mistake of dropping their mileage and intensity too far out from their main race. The result is it leaves them feeling tired and lethargic instead. 10 days is plenty of time to drop your mileage rest up prior to your race. So, don’t make the mistake of starting your taper too soon.

Remember, you should be going into your races feeling motivated, rested and ready to run a new personal best.

Do Faster Long Runs

I have seen this tactic work for athletes focused on the 800m to the 50k distance. A common mistake many runners make is running long and slow every single weekend. Again, we want to sustain goal race pace longer than our competition. The only way to achieve this is doing more of your mileage at or below your lactate threshold. Again, this is running at between 85 to 89 percent of your max heat rate.

Faster, varied paced long runs helped me to lower my half marathon from 1:10:29 to 1:07:06. In addition, my 10-mile best from 55:32 to 50:54. I also lowered my marathon PR from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. I have seen other RunDreamAchieve athletes dropping significant time implementing this tactic as well. Below is an example of the types of long runs I was doing prior to breaking the 2:20 marathon barrier.

  • 2 mile warm-up, 7 miles@5:30 mile pace, 2 mile jog, 1 mile in 4:55, 7 miles@6:05 mile pace, 2 mile jog, 1 mile in 5:05, 1 mile jog cool-down (23 miles)

Of course, you don’t need to do a 23-miler to prepare for an all-out 5 mile run. Perhaps, you only need to go 10 miles for yours. That being said, just don’t run long and slow evert single weekend. I would always follow a harder long run like this the following week at an 8 to 9 minute mile pace. So, extremely easy and relaxed.

Longer Tempo Runs

What has been the longest tempo run (anaerobic threshold) you have done in the past training for your 5 mile races? 2 miles? 3 miles? I would work to extend the distance out to around 7 to 10 miles. One, you will be nearly doubling the distance of your goal race distance. Also, you will be building an enormous amount of strength and stamina by doing this. In addition, you will be improving your body’s ability to clear lactic acid more effectively.

Remember, be patient with your training. Again, it takes the body about 3 to 4 weeks to adapt to the stressors we place on it. So, a longer rather than a shorter build up is best. You won’t be in a rush to get into great fitness. in addition, you will be allotting sufficient time to adapt to the hard training that you are doing.

Closing Thoughts

I would also implement mental rehearsal into your training routine. So, start spending 10 to 15 minutes daily seeing yourself getting across the finish line in your goal 5 mile run race time. It has to start in the mind before it will ever become reality in real life. The world’s top middle to long distance runners combine both mental as well as physical preparation into their routines. A large percentage of runners around the world only focus on physical training.

So, start visualizing yourself achieving what it is you are aiming for. The best time to do this is when you first get up in the morning or when you go to bed at night. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I focus on making at least 2 to 3 new videos there each week. In addition, sharing strategies and tactics that helped me to eventually run at the elite level. More importantly, to help you to achieve and surpass your training and racing goals.

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