Man and woman running outdoors

Top tips for setting your 5k running pace

From building up speed to understanding how to use a running pace calculator, here are our top tips to set your 5k running tempo.

By and large, the best way to understand how you are developing your pace is by how quickly you are completing your daily/weekly/monthly runs, especially in a 5k. Therefore it is important, before you start focusing on setting your running pace, you’ll want to develop the muscles you need to sprint.

A great way of doing this is by building up your speed through stride training, followed by hill sprint training.

Start off with stride training

Start off with an easy jog
Run almost flat out (aim to be running at 95%) for 20-30 seconds.
Slow back down, returning to an easy jog before stopping.
Repeat this exercise 2-3 days a week after you’ve been for a run

Then some steep hill training 

• Find a hill steep enough to run up, but not so steep that you could be at risk of injury.
•  Start with 8 second sprints x 3 reps. As you develop, you will be wanting to build up your rep count, firstly up 6-10 reps, then developing it towards 10-12 reps over the following 3 to 5 weeks of doing.
• As you start hill running, be careful. Your legs will probably not be used to the rigors of the exercise, and may take 2 - 3 sessions before you aren’t feeling at least mild discomfort from the exercise. Even once you are used to it, be careful. Any over exertion will discount the hard work you have been doing.

Two women running on road side by side

Develop your endurance

When it comes to building up your running stamina, it isn't simply a case of running for a long period of time. Of course it’s important to build up endurance by increasing your mileage each week (nothing beyond 20% is the ideal number), but not a case of one size fits all with running. It's about specificity, and aiming towards a certain number, pushing your endurance levels towards a particular goal.

In this instance, it’s a 5k, so you will want your running to be focused on reaching 5K with each run. The best way to do this is by setting out your own custom workout plan, which takes into account the number of intervals you will need, the distance you’ll run in each of those intervals and the amount of walking time you will need between those said intervals to reach your goal of 5K.

As the training progresses, you’ll want both the number of intervals and recovery time to go down, and you’ll be at the starting point getting a sense of your running pace.

Calculating your bassline running pace

Although you may have already been doing this, now you're able to run a 5K with as few stops as possible, you should take note of how fast you do your final kilometer. This will be what’s known as your baseline running pace. To make it as accurate as possible, make sure you are running on a surface similar to the one you plan to run on when it comes to the real 5K.

Group of people running together on bridge

Use a running pace calculator 

Whether you’re a first time runner or an expert, a running pace calculator finds your right speed, which will help your training no end.

Not only that, but can help develop certain pace setting skills, including:

• How fast your pace should be in order to achieve a certain finish time, such as completing your 5K in under 30 minutes.
• Determining your training pace, and measuring it toward that running time.
• Working out the distance you ran during your training session.

Find out everything you need to know here.

Read Next

Woman trail running

What Gear Do You Need for Trail Running?

How to pick the right shoes, clothes, packs and other gear for trail running.

man and woman running on a scenic green mountain trail

Trail Running Equipment Essentials

Having the right equipment for your trail run can make the whole experience run much easier. This guide takes you through our top recommendations.

How to choose your Running Socks?

How to choose your Running Socks?

There is a wide range of running socks out there. Find out how to find the perfect fit for you in comfort, durability and support.