These are a few of my favorite things….!! 5k to Marathon Training Edition

Finding the perfect training plan as you prepare and plan for your race goals can be overwhelming. In case you have not noticed, there are so many different variations of training plans available for all experience levels and for all the various goals we may have. It can be hard to navigate the information overload!

We are busy people, especially during these unique COVID-19 times. So many of us try to fit our training in early before kids wake or work starts. We are heading out for our workout after a long day at work or perhaps even late in the evening after all the other responsibilities have settled down. We want to make sure we are getting the most bang for our buck with our time and our workouts.

I started running half marathons in 2010 and the marathon in 2014. However, only recently did I decide to train and race the 5k and 10k, which has led to some fun PR’s recently. I have tackled various types of workouts throughout the years of training for these various distances and through the training cycles, I have found the workouts that I enjoy the most and found the most successful; whether for physical stamina or mental performance.

These are my favorites that have led to my success with racing these various distances over the past few years.

5K to 5-Mile

1-2-mile easy warm-up followed by 200-meter repeats at 5k pace with 30 seconds rest. Start at 10 reps and work your way up to 20-24 reps (24 reps = 3.1mi of efforts). The rest is challenging but stick to the 30 seconds off; that is the important part. 1-2 miles easy cool-down. (*This is important to work at your current fitness level to maintain the 30seconds rest, as you increase your fitness, your pace with increase!)

1-2 miles easy warm-up, 6×400 meters with 1min rest between each interval into a Recovery jog 3-5 minutes, then 6x300m with 45sec rest between each interval into a Recovery jog 3-5 minutes, followed by 6x200m with 30 seconds rest between each interval. You can scale down and start at 2-3 reps at each distance and work your way up.

The last few reps get hard which teaches you to relax into discomfort, which is key for the 5k!


1-mile easy warm-up and then into mile repeats at your goal 10k pace. You can start at 2-3 repeats of the mile with an easy 3-5-minute jog recovery between and increase repeats to 5-6-mile repeats. As you advance, you could decrease your recovery time between intervals or plan your run outside with the repeats on relatively flat terrain, but the recovery jog should be on an incline or rolling hills, or vice versa!

Progression Intervals 1-mile easy warm-up, then 3×9 minute effort. During the 9-minute intervals the first 3 minutes 10-15 seconds slower than 10k pace, the middle 3minutes at 10k pace, and the last 3 minutes 10 seconds faster than 10k pace (3/3/3 is what the workout is sometimes referred to). To start, you can shorten the intervals to 3x6minutes with the pace change every 2 minutes. Easy cool-down mile.

Half Marathon

Tempo Pace Doubles This is an interval run where the time intervals are run at tempo pace (slightly faster than half marathon pace), with 1-minute recovery between each interval (this is what makes the workout so tough and so worth it!). The interval time doubles as you increase a ladder of 2 minutes to 4 minutes.

For example: warm-up mile, 2 minutes at tempo pace, 1-minute recovery jog, 4 minutes at tempo pace, 1-minute recovery jog, 3 minutes at tempo pace, 1-minute jog, 6 minutes at tempo, 4 minutes at tempo pace, 1-minute recovery, 8 minutes at tempo pace. You can continue to 5/10 or 6/12 as your fitness increases.

This is a tough workout, but it is powerful for pushing through mental and physical barriers!

400-meter repeats at 5k-10k pace with decreasing recovery To start, 10×400 meters with 90 seconds recovery, as you gain fitness, increase the number of reps (up to 16-20) and every 5-6 intervals decrease the recovery time by 15 seconds. For example, 4x400m with 90-second recovery, 4×400, 75-second recovery, 4×400, 60-second recovery, 4×400, 45-second recovery.

Decreasing the recovery time as you get fatigued is powerful to teach your body to continue to push through when tired. This comes in handy when you reach mile 11 of a half marathon!


Long Run Adding in pace intervals to my long runs was helpful for my mental and physical stamina when running the marathon. This workout can start early in your run if you are advanced or in the last few miles of your long run if this is your first or second marathon training cycle. Starting at 4-5 miles in, alternate with one mile at your goal marathon pace followed by 1 mile, 1-minute slower than your marathon pace.

For example: If the goal marathon pace is 9:30, easy jog for 5 miles, then mile 6 would be marathon pace (9:30) followed by mile 7 at 10:30 pace per mile, mile 8 back to marathon pace, and so on up to your distance planned.

Yasso’s 800 The staple marathon workout. (I have always enjoyed this workout as a mental and physical marker within my training) 4 weeks before race day, 10×800 meters with 2-3 minutes easy between each interval, of course adding in proper warm-up and cool-down!

These are my favorite workouts over the past few years of training for these various distances!

These workouts are a test of speed and physical endurance, while also fully preparing the mind for the discomfort of racing. Whether you are running a longer distance, trying to increase your pace, or training to complete and feel strong on race day, these are all great workouts to add into your toolbox!

When these workouts are adapted for your current running ability, they will allow you to push through boundaries and set goals for progression throughout your training. Feeling success is a powerful reinforcement tool when it comes to running, so remembering to plan your interval pace for your current fitness level or a smidge faster, will help allow your body to evolve and progress. I love tackling a workout early in my training and then again later as my fitness improves, hopefully with increased repetitions, decreased recovery, and a faster pace! The ability to feel and concretely see the improvement and fitness you have gained in your training; is the validation we need to continue our training.

I hope you enjoy the physical and mental challenges of these workouts!! Good luck and let us keep running!

By Kate Busch


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