How To Structure 5K Training

This structure also applies to the question of “How to run 5K training” and infact any type of running training from kids cross country through to older runners performing intensive training sessions. There’s a routine you should use for all your training. This consists of the following and will be referred to as your RUN ROUTINE for future reference.

This is actually quite simple and is often overlooked by busy runners just wanting to hit the street and get their training in. It’s not time consuming and needs to be considered of equal importance as the actual running. I’ve added an estimated/actual time next to each activity to give you an idea of how easy it is to add this into your running routine.

  • Pre-Run fueling (1 minute)
  • Warm Up (8 minutes)
  • Dynamic Flexibility Stretches (not static stretching) (5 minutes)
  • Form Drills (5 minutes)
  • Specific Running Training, i.e. the running!! (Depends on the workout for the day)
  • Cool Down (5 minutes)
  • Dynamic Flexibility Stretches (not static stretching) (5 minutes)
  • Core Strength (5 to 10 minutes)

If you adhere to these principals for all your running sessions, you’ll see benefits in all areas of your running, from being correctly prepared through to improving your running form, general strength and overall improvements that translate into all areas of your fitness.

Pre-Run Fueling

This is simply a drink from a variety of options before you run. My personal favourite is Nuun tablets, sugar free, electrolyte tablets, the Lemon Lime flavour. I use this before any morning workout, otherwise just a drink of water will suffice. Just go and read the details from their website about the qualities that the tablets provide. I avoid the caffeine based products as these can lead to awkward stomach and toilet requirements!! If in doubt, just have a glass of water so you don’t end up dehydrated.

Warm Up

The warm up is important for many reasons. If you just launch straight into your training, your cold body is in danger of pulling muscles or damaging tendons. To keep it simple, the warm up just needs to consist of 8 minutes of walking and jogging at a slow pace. If you’re doing it first thing in the morning, make the first 2 minutes walking only just to iron out any stiff muscles post sleep.

Dynamic Flexibility Stretches

For 5K training stretching, old fashioned static stretches are gone, you’ll be performing dynamic flexibility stretches. So what are dynamic flexibility stretches and how do they differ from static stretching. I read yet another article the other day describing the results of research showing how much of a waste of time static stretches are. Ok, so don’t throw them out completely, they still have their place in terms of a cool down for stretching sore muscles and tendons post training and sometimes are good in conjunction with using something like a foam roller for rolling out sore points. However, for your run routine you’ll be using something referred to as dynamic flexibility stretches.

Measure out a distance of 15 to 20 metres as you’ll perform each of the 12 stretches moving over this distance. It only has to be approximate so if it looks about 20 metres, or you don’t have enough room (you’re in the garage using the treadmill for your training), just use what you have. Your stretches will consist of the following routine which is brilliantly explained by Dathan Ritzenhein in a fantastic video on Youtube.

The list for quick reference is:

  • Pull knee to chest, let it go (Glutes, Hamstrings)
  • Pull foot back, heel against butt (Quads)
  • Combine first two movements in one motion (Glutes, Hamstrings, Quads)
  • Cross leg over, stretch to ground, alternate legs (Hamstrings)
  • Alternate bends with toes in, then out (Hamstrings)
  • Grab heel and knee, pull leg towards torso (Glutes, Internal Rotators)
  • Shuffle side to side, stretching evenly (Groin)
  • Lunge position, reach up with opposite hand, alternate (Hip flexors, Psoas)
  • Lunge position, twist body across forward leg (Obliques, Back muscles)
  • Lunge position, reach opposite hand forward, other hand back (Torso, Upper body)
  • Up on toe, bring opposite knee up, swing arms in a circle (Chest, Upper body)

Form Drills

The purpose of the form drills is to improve your running style. There’s a very large set of drills you can do to support and improve running style. In each running session, you will perform at least 4 drills. I’ve divided the drills up into three groups so simply rotate through each set of drills each workout otherwise you’ll be spending 15 to 20 minutes on the drills alone, plus it’s nice to add some variety to each of your workouts. You’ll likely end up with some favourites but do them all.

Measure out a distance of 60 metres this time. The process will be:

  • Perform the drill over the 60 metres
  • Jog back to the start
  • Run a stride out over the 60 metres – a stride out is running in sprinting form at a reasonable pace (imagine you’re a sprinter running at a medium pace NOT sprinting, just good form)
  • Walk back to the start for the next drill
  • The purpose of the stride out is to lock in any form improvements you make performing the drill.

Again, all of these drills are explained by Dathan Ritzenhein in a Youtube video. However, we’re skipping a few of the more complex drills so although there’s more drills in the video than you need, just focus on the ones I’ve listed in each set under the video. Also, if you notice sore knees or heels doing any of the drills, don’t do them and just introduce them back in if your body allows you to.

Drill Set #1

Forward Arm Circles
The Ninja-Jog
Karaoke or Grape-Vine – Swap directions

Drill Set #2

Backward Arm Circles
High Knees
Butt Kicks
Crossover Step

Drill Set #3

Side-skip Arm Circles
Fast Leg Butt Kicks
Fast Leg B-Skips
Side Shuffle – Swap directions
Bounding (NOTE: Not shown on the videos)

Bounding is essentially running at a normal speed but taking extra large steps so kind of extra long steps, focus on push off and easy landings.

Specific Run Training

This is where you perform your running training. This will be based from the 5K Training Plan you select. See the FREE TRAINING PLANS for more information or get in touch for a personalized plan.

Cool Down

After your specific run training, a simple cool down can consist of a 5 minute walk or slow jog. Keeping it simple.

Dynamic Flexibility Stretches

Perform the stretch routine again. You can cut the distance down from 20 metres to 10 metres though this time.

Core Strength

You don’t have to do this immediately after running but to keep it simple, this is a good time to do it. Otherwise, this can be performed later in the day or even on your rest days between training.

Here’s a great Youtube video taking you through a routine. You don’t need to do all of the items in this routine and if you just pick one item, just do the plank.

Last Updated: July 18th 2019