Pacing a 5k

Pacing is an important factor of running a 5k. Here are our top-tips to help you get that PB!

Steph avatar
Written by Steph
Updated over a week ago

A 5k is often the first distance we aim for when getting into running. It is a big distance marker to hit for someone that is new to running. As we get more experienced, a 5k because one of those distances where we like to lay down as fast a time as possible. The 5k starts to feel like a long sprint! It is also a very accessible distance given we can head to ParkRun every Saturday for a competitive run out. The 5k is short enough to take more of a risky approach and see what happens, but we would still advise a pacing plan so you can get the best out of yourself.

Goal Time

Firstly, work out what time you are aiming to finish in. Be realistic! If you have run 25:45 for a 5k, then going for sub 25minute is a good goal but I wouldn't go for sub 24minutes (just yet!). The faster your time, the less time you should aim to shave off. For a 24:59 5k, you'd be aiming to run at least 4:59 per km. For the longer distances (+10k), it is good to have a pace range to aim for but with the 5k, I would go for your target pace from the get go. Why? Because it is a short race. You don't have as much time to make up time.

First 2k

Try to hit your target pace right on the nose. If you are 1-2s quicker that is ok, but try not to lose any seconds at this stage. It is possible that your first 1km or mile will be a bit quicker as you get wrapped up in the excitement but try and not don't go over 3s quicker than target pace (e.g. under 4:55/km might be a bit too punchy at this stage!). The effort should feel fast and like you are really working.

From half way....

It is going to start to really bite in the next km or so. That is what the 5k does to you so be prepared for that. Remind yourself that you are getting closer to the finish line with each step. Push hard and dig deep. Try to speed up that pace as much as possible and with 1km to go, empty the tank and give it your all to finish line...

*Be mindful that if you are running on a hilly or trail like surface then getting a PB will be harder but you can adjust your pace target around the conditions. If you are looking to go for a set time, then we would advise choosing a flat and fast route!

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