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Training Guide to Run a 5K Race in Under 25 Minutes

author image Kelsey Casselbury
Kelsey Casselbury has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Penn State-University Park. She has a long career in print and web media, including serving as a managing editor for a monthly nutrition magazine and food editor for a Maryland lifestyle publication. She also owns an Etsy shop selling custom invitations and prints.
Training Guide to Run a 5K Race in Under 25 Minutes
Man finishing a race, competitors behind him. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

When your goals shift from just finishing the race to a specific goal time, details in training become more important. If your goal this season is to break the 25-minute barrier in a 5K race, it is important to train your body to run at your goal pace. To do this, training sessions will vary from longer, slower endurance runs to shorter, faster, interval and speed workouts. By focusing on all aspects of training, you will have a new personal record, or PR, in your upcoming race.

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Mathematical Breakdown

In running, good and bad races are based on your goal time and what the clock says when you cross the finish line. To cross the finish line in a 5K in 25 minutes or less, you need to run each mile in 8 minutes, 3 seconds or less. To break your race down further, you need to run each half mile in 4:01 or less and each quarter mile in 2:00 or less.The most effective way to monitor your pacing is to wear a sports watch and know how to use the function that allows you to take splits.

Training for Speed

In order to get faster, you must train your body to go faster than it will in the actual race. To train for a 25-minute 5K, it is recommended that you do quarter-mile repeats in the time range of 1:47 to 1:52. The easiest way to do this type of workout is to go to your local high school track. Pick a spot on the track where you will start and finish. Next, start your watch and run one lap. You should be pushing hard enough that you are not able to keep a conversation going with the person next to you. Once finished, rest for a minute or two and then repeat two to three more times.

Training for Endurance

On long runs and easy runs, it is critical that you are running at or slower than conversational pace. The reason is simple. Your body can only build endurance when it has enough energy to keep going, and going. If you push your body to go faster than conversational pace on long runs, you will only be hurting yourself and making it more difficult for your body to recover so you can go fast in your next speed workout.

Race Day

When you set your alarm for race day, make sure you give yourself a few hours to eat, get dressed and travel to the starting line. Once at the race, make sure you get in a five- to 10-minute warmup of easy running. This warmup is important to get your heart rate up as well as giving your muscles time to get moving and relaxed. The hard work is done. Stick to your pace -- making sure you don't go too fast the first mile -- and have fun. Reaching the starting line is 95 percent of the battle.

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  • ACE’s Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals; American Council on Exercise
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