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home | All Articles | 5 Mile Training Plan over 8 Weeks by . . .

5 Mile Training Plan over 8 Weeks by Coach Troy

Iron Girl 8 WEEK - 5 Mile Training Program

By Coach Troy Jacobson

The 5 Mile Road Race is fun and challenging for athletes from all backgrounds and of all fitness levels. Advanced athletes use the shorter distance to test their fitness and develop speed while less experienced athletes use the distance as a stepping stone to running longer races. Whatever your reasons are for doing the Iron Girl 5 Miler, congratulations on your decision to participate and good luck! Now, let's get you started on a great training program!

This training program assumes that you are fairly new to running 'distance' events but have a good base level of cardiovascular fitness and exercise regularly. Of course, before starting this or any serious exercise program, please consult with your doctor first to ensure your readiness to participate. And prior to beginning this plan, you should be able to run at a comfortable, non-stop pace for at least 45 minutes

As mentioned previously, the 5 Miler is an interesting distance in that it is short enough to allow the athlete to run fast, but long enough so that they need to focus on pacing and 'energy management'. This situation clearly creates the need for a training program that focuses both on the development of speed as well as endurance. Since this particular training program is relatively short (8 weeks) and is designed for the physically fit person new to road racing, we'll be primarily concerned with building endurance and confidence.

Again, assuming that you have a good level of general fitness but are lacking a little in road racing experience, this program will be broken up into three phases as follows: Phase 1:. 5 weeks of base building / aerobic endurance training and some leg speed development work.
    Phase 2: 2 weeks of interval training.
    Phase 3: Taper Week / Race Day Preparation

Before we jump into your program, let's go over a few more things, including some terminology and other training considerations.

"Cross Training' refers to other forms of exercise that compliment your running. I advocate high cadence cycling (90-100 and higher rpms) and other low impact cardio machines such as the Elliptical Machine. Cross training will develop and strengthen supporting muscle groups important to running, help with recovery as well as boost your cardiovascular fitness overall.

'Aerobic' Training workouts are workouts done at a comfortable and sustainable pace where you maximize the use of your aerobic energy system. These workouts are to be done at a controlled pace that is comfortable, yet still somewhat challenging. On a scale from 1-10, ten being a full-out sprint, aerobic training is at a 6-7. Much of your training will be done in this general intensity range for this program while more advanced runners can do more 'speed' training.

'Tempo' or 'Threshold' training refers to run workouts that are done near or slighter faster than your race pace for a 5K. The intensity, on the perceived effort scale from 1-10, falls somewhere between 8-9 and is done at a very hard level that is sustainable without having to slow down. Tempo work is highly effective at improving running pace for distance runners and, when done properly, can help reduce risk of injury normally associated with traditional speed work training.

"Striders" are short, fast runs of up to 30 seconds in duration intended to improve your run technique and let turnover. They also serve as a great warm-up for 'tempo' or harder run sessions. To perform a strider, start running at about 80% of your maximum speed and build throughout the 30 second effort until you are running close to 95% of your full speed. Focus on using good form and thinking about running with 'fast feet'. All workouts should be preceded by a warm up, including some dynamic stretching, as well as a light jog and static stretching to cool down.

"Strength Training" is an important component in every athlete's training program. In this training schedule, I recommend strength training at least two times each week, focusing on short, full body workouts of higher reps and lighter weights to build muscular strength and endurance simultaneously. Our StrEndurance Training DVD (Vol. 1) was created for this specific purpose. Other muscle strength and coordination activities like Yoga and Pilates can also be very effective.

Finally, I believe that it's smart to mix your road running miles with treadmill miles with a ratio of about 60% Road to 40% treadmill. Using the treadmill will help you develop a great sense of pace while reducing the stress and strain placed on the body. On the other hand, running on the the roads is more race specific and develops your technique. In your training program, you'll see that I specify some workouts do be done on the treadmill and others to be done on the road.

Now let's get started with your 5 Miler Training Program!


While we don't cover training nutrition in this program, be sure to educate yourself regarding performance nutrition and hydration both during the training process and as you approach race day.

Good luck with your program! Train smart, have fun and run fast!

The Official Coach for Iron Girl, Troy Jacobson is a leading multisport coach since 1992 and producer of the Spinervals Cycling Workout Series as well as other training DVDs series designed for endurance athletes of all abilities.


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