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Mastering Your 5km Race: Essential Training Tips and Strategies

Your Questions answered: 

“Hey Coach D, what's your view on training for a 5km PB attempt? What should I prioritize? Thanks!”


One of the most popular race distances thanks to the global success of ParkRun which is a 5km free-to-take-part event that now has a location just about anywhere you find more than a few individuals living and who love running. With that comes some serious competitive athletes looking to either get a personal best on their own 5km performance, win their local event, or take the course record. Below are key tips for successful 5km racing



  • Intensity zones

Begin to understand/measure/know your pace zones is critical to this journey.

The first step to this journey is to run a fast 5km to get your pace for that level. As a coach, I use TrainingPeaks to build relevant training zones into training programs for athletes. 


  • Intensity Part Deux

Sustained running is important, such as tempo work which is often popular in run programs. However, for instance, tempo is often run 10s per km slower than your 10km race pace. 10km pace is usually the pace where the lactate threshold speed is. 

Two key concepts: 

A) We want to go a little faster than the lactate threshold level to expose muscle cells to higher levels (of lactate) so that relevant structures such as MCT1, MCT4, and the energy factories called mitochondria. The 5km race pace is perfect!


B) 5km race pace activates very high levels of all fiber types to achieve high levels of fitness. 5km race pace also sits around 95% of VO2max and it's the perfect sweet spot to get adaptations in oxygen uptake and running efficiency. 


  • Perform 5km race-specific workouts

That leads to our next key point, and that's we want to do intervals at a 5km race pace (95% of VO2max) and this often involves much shorter distances than your race to allow that pace to be performed and gain the appropriate benefits