Preparing yourself for a new running challenge? Or maybe you’re ready to push your limits and join a higher tier of runners? Well, the 5K race will be a great place to start!
The 5K race is one of the many milestones that running lovers enjoy taking on. The 5K event is up there with the 10K, half-marathons, and sprinting triathlons.
In this guide, our primary focus will be on how to easily finish a 22 minute 5K. We will explain all the training and pacing strategies that’ll help you achieve this goal.
We’ll also be discussing why you should work hard to pursue it in the first place.
Let’s get to it!
What Is the 5K Race?
The 5K is a common race in that it’s a standard run that many people enjoy participating in. This is mainly due to how easy the 5K is.
For starters, the ‘K’ in 5K stands for kilometers, which makes the run around 5,000 meters. In Imperial terms that’ll make for 3.1 miles.
If you’re a runner who’s more familiar with tracks, a 5K race translates into 12.5 laps.
Since one lap covers 400 meters (or a quarter of a mile), the 5K is a pretty reasonable challenge for first-timers to take on.
In 2019 alone, more than 8 million Americans had signed up for the 5K. That’s more than 80% of the runners who’ve tried for the marathon in the same year!
In case the above reasons aren’t enough to consider the 5K race, how about the fact that it’s the easiest to train for?
Unlike most challenging running tracks, the 5K doesn’t require a complete change of your daily routine—just the necessary basics.
Below, we’ll go through some strategies and factors to keep in mind before competing in the 5K but for now, let’s cover how long the race will take.
How Long Does It Take to Finish the 5K?
The golden rule in calculating the time it takes to finish any race is to factor in your pace, speed, and how many miles you’re going to cover.
On average, a 5K should last no longer than 40 minutes given that each mile is finished in around 12 minutes or less.
If you’re more of a walker than a runner, a mile should take from a quarter to a third of an hour. I
n other words, walkers should be able to complete a 5K race in 60 minutes or so.
Elite runners, on the other hand, have a quick pace so they’ll probably cross the 5K finish line in less than 20 minutes.
As of 2020, the professional male record for finishing the 5K race stands at 12 minutes and 51 seconds.
Experienced female runners, though, can accomplish the 5K in 14 minutes and 44 seconds.
How to Train for a 22 Minute 5K
It’s worth mentioning again that training to finish the 5K is pretty straightforward. It doesn’t require much more than adjusting to a training plan that works best for you.
As a rule of thumb, your strategy should always involve interval, resistance, and strength workouts. It needs to include cross-training, distance runs, and hills too.
Bottom line: you should be running for at least 10 hours per week. By the end, you should be able to run from 3 to 4 miles without having to stop.
That being said, let’s get into our own training plan!
Buckle Up for Long-Distance Runs
While you’re training, remember one thing, and that is your pace goal. You need to finish a mile in just about 7 minutes (or 4 minutes per kilometer).
To achieve this, you should be going on enough long runs. The purpose of long-distance cardio is to strengthen your muscles, joints, and bones. As such, you burn fat more efficiently.
Here’s how a long run helps your runner’s form:
- Builds up aerobic capabilities to improve lung function
- Increases muscular endurance to maintain good posture
- Boosts mitochondrial density allowing you to compete faster
- Produces extra energy to carry you through the race
You should schedule a long run every week. With a strong mind and body, the 5K race should be a breeze.
Find the Nearest Hill to You
Running uphill is an excellent cardio exercise. The increasing incline targets your glutes and upper thighs specifically, and in turn, strengthens your core.
To sprint uphill is to boost your runner’s cadence too. Cadence refers to how long your stride takes, meaning, how many steps you’re covering per minute.
Improving your cadence reduces the odds of injury and helps you achieve a faster running pace in less time. Remember to maintain an upright form when going uphill.
Your arm swings should be quick. Plus, you need to always involve your glutes, hips, and core. Keep your knees up too.
Boost Endurance Via Cross-Training Workouts
Cross-training activities are an essential part of any training plan. They’re great for beginner runners and those who have recently suffered a big injury.
Additionally, they’re a quick way to unwind after extensive runs.
Typical cross-training workouts involve low-intensity cardio exercises. Each one of the following activities complements your overall training, making you a faster runner:
- Wind trainers
- Stationery mountain biking
Did we mention that cross-training also boosts your cardiovascular and muscular endurance? It allows you a mental and physical break from running too so you can come back stronger.
Some runners choose to run and cross-train on the same day—in that order. We recommend this strategy since it helps promote the active recovery of muscles.
Resting Is as Important as Training
When it comes to rest, it’s recommended that you compromise.
To put it simply, you shouldn’t fully give up training for the day nor should you continue carrying out high-intensity exercises.
With that in mind, you’ll find that there are two ways to go about resting: passive and active muscle recovery.
Passive resting usually involves taking it easy and giving yourself time to unload.
Active recovery comes in different methods. You can stay active between every workout set and another by jogging in place or briskly walking laps. You can also opt to go for a cool-down run to slow down your heart rate and blood pressure.
Full rest days should be on your schedule as well.
You should include some mobility activities just to keep blood flowing through your muscles and allow them to repair themselves faster.
How to Set a Pacing Strategy for a 22 Minute 5K
To run a 5K in roughly 22 minutes, your pace needs to be 7 minutes per mile. This will make your split time be around a minute and a half every 400 meters.
It’s worth mentioning here that it’s almost impossible to maintain the same pace each lap, especially for first-timers.
We recommend timing yourself while you train to recognize where you fall short and work on it.
Factors to keep in mind and that’ll likely affect your pace include:
- Since the 5K is an outdoor run, be prepared for the harsh roads. Maybe choose to familiarize yourself with the terrain beforehand.
- The temperatures are typically at a warm 80℉ during a 5K race, so dress accordingly unless the conditions state otherwise.
- You should tackle this problem during training. Improve your endurance so you don’t tire out easily.
- Wind intensity and speed. On a strong-wind day, you may end up spending 8% more energy resisting it. It’ll in turn affect your performance.
Why You Should Take on the 22 Minute 5K Challenge
Finishing a 22 minute 5K race is incredibly rewarding. Don’t take our word for it though.
Even regular marathon runners sign up for the 5K as part of their long-term training too.
As a start, 5K runs help increase your aerobic capacity over time. It’ll teach your body how to maintain oxygen for longer periods while you run.
As a result, you’ll be able to sustain a stable pace with every mile you run.
Not only that, but your blood cells will begin to store more ATP or mitochondrial energy. B
y increasing ATP density, your muscles contract less, you run faster, and your odds of injury or tear decrease.
Other reasons why you should take on the 5K challenge include the following:
- Training doesn’t last for more than a few weeks (from 3 to 4).
- Your body will become energy-efficient and learn to run faster.
- You end up burning around 700 calories if not more.
- It’s a fun group activity to tackle with your friends and family.
Running a 22 minute 5k is easier than you think. It’s a standard milestone that many beginner runners like to take on.
It’s not a challenge that pro-athletes shy away from either.
If you feel like you’re ready to put yourself through some extensive training for a month or so, consider signing up for the 5K.
With the right training plan to build up your pace, you’ll be able to hit a 22 minute 5K without much difficulty.