I am a 75kg/165lbs 179cm/5'10ft 24 year old male that has been running on and off the past couple of years.

Recently I have made it a goal to do a sub 20 min 5k as my title suggests, but I am blank on training procedures and the internet is floated with different recommendations and it seems like the personal fitness of the individual makes quite a big difference.

Best short run 3.1km in 3:55/km. Average run 3km in 4:15/km

I can do distance running, but I don't really like it. I did 23km recently in 5:32/km.

I don't really seem to progress? Currently I am doing a lot of weight lifting and I am running minimum 3 times a week where I do 180-190bpm runs. Which would be something like 3km in 4:10/km. I would assume a 5km would be feasible withing 4:20-4:25/km range.

If I want to do 5km sub 20 min / 4:00/km this summer, what training practices would you recommend?

Strictly doing 5ks, interval training, how often, should I train for max bpm each run?

2 Answers 2


There are many ways to get there, as your investigations would suggest. And perhaps you will be pleased to learn that long-endurance work is not the most effective way to achieve high middle-distance performance. If you do not enjoy longer runs, there is no need to do them.

Running speed is a function of stride length and stride rate.

speed = stride length × stride rate

This implicates two fundamental areas which may need to be addressed: hip mobility and leg turn-over rate.

Limitations in hip mobility are very common amongst amateur runners—I would argue standard. This is particularly true of hip extension, which is limited by the hip flexors. The femur of most amateur runners is limited to between 0 and –5° (behind the line of the torso), with the pelvis and lumbar spine usually compensating to permit greater functional mobility. The latter, of course, can lead to lumbar soreness and injury.

In the photograph below, we can clearly see the ease by which the knee of current 5,000- and 10,000-metre World- and Olympic-record holder Kenenisa Bekele (pictured right) passes behind the line of his torso to an angle of perhaps –30°. His torso is erect and straight with a slight forward lean, and there is no lumbar hyper-extension whatsoever.

enter image description here

Good posture is critical for speed, economy of motion, and injury prevention. If your running posture is sub-optimal, you would benefit from dedicated stretching of both the hip extensors (gluteals and hamstrings) and hip flexors (particularly the iliopsoas and quadriceps femoris groups). Stretches should be dynamic prior to running, and static afterward.

The second part of the equation—the rate of leg turn-over—is addressed through the development of speed skills. Ideally, most of your training should be performed above or at target speed (that is, 4:00.0/kilometre pace), and the distances that you run should reflect that. Effort should be made to lift the knees, to strike the ground beneath (not in front of) your centre of mass, and to keep your stride full and even.

Since you are already able to reach and maintain your target speed, you should limit yourself to distances that allow you to practise at (or above) that speed. I would recommend beginning with 2- or 2.5-kilometre bouts, and to aim not to drop below 3:50.0/kilometre pace, for example. As the pace becomes more comfortable, and as you achieve that pace more consistently, simply extend the distance in small graduations until you are running the full 5 kilometres.

I hope that helps. Good luck!

  • 1
    Wow that was A LOT of information. I am really pleased with the conclusion. I Will definitely be more aware on posture and see if I can improve. Currently I am aiming for 180 strides per minute since I heard someone saying it was optimal in a YouTube video. What is your stance on that statement? May 30, 2020 at 17:36
  • And how often would you trains 4 times a week full BPM? May 30, 2020 at 17:37
  • Yes, if you are able to achieve 180 strides/minute without excessive strain, you should do that. However, stride rate should not come at the cost of the completion of your stride. Keep in mind that, like everything else, it is trainable, and you can build it gradually as you feel that all the structures are keeping up with the changes you are employing. Don't force it; it will come. Measure and record your training data, and track it over time to see what you should be doing and what works for you.
    – POD
    May 30, 2020 at 17:48
  • The key criterion for frequency is your ability to recover. Without knowing your level of conditioning, I would not want to specify a particular training frequency. However, three to four times per week sounds reasonable. A good rule-of-thumb is to run only when you feel fully recovered and eager to run. It is always best to err on the side of caution if the body is telling you ‘no’. One day off here and there will save you weeks off later, and it will invariably improve your performance rather than hurt it.
    – POD
    May 30, 2020 at 17:53

you should be considering a 5-day training for 5k under 20 mins. You should divide your training into 3 different running tempos.

Tempo pace runs, Hiit Training (HIGH INTERVAL INTENSE TRAINING), Long Runs and fast Runs

  • Tempo runs

goes like 5-10 mins easy run building gradually to 3-5 minutes at 10K pace and 5-10 mins cool down. By this training, you develop the anaerobic threshold.

  • HIIT Run

is a great way to improve your speed (essential to do the 5k under 20 minutes). This could go like 400meters run hard, 400 meters jogging or 200 meters sprint with 200 meters jogging for 2-3 km.

  • Long Runs

Once a week go for a long run at an easy pace. Run for 60-90 minutes at an easy pace. What easy pace means? It means you can talk while running

  • Fast Runs

mean going in a bit faster pace than your usual 5k race for a bit less than 5k s.

Another important aspect is strength training and especially the upper core, something being neglected for the most runners. You can do either light weights, or train with resistance bands. Also please keep in mind to exercise well your gluteus medius (with resistance loops, lunges etc.) a common mistake that leads to IT band Syndrome. You should rest twice a week and especially after the hard days (after the hit training and the tempo runs) so you can use the easier days as active recovery days. Now, if I were you, I would like to maximize my recovery by doing some stretching (about 10-15 minutes) after every workout or do some foam rolling.

I am not fun of mixing different types of training, and I mean I wouldn't suggest mixing heavyweight sessions with running sessions as you differ from your goal. Usually, you have to do specific training for a specific goal. Though, you are really close with your times for both.

You can create your own program here!

You can see a sample program in the attachment

enter image description here

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