Happy Friday!! Today I’m doing a Hal Higdon 5K Intermediate Training Overview. I’m going to talk about the program, why I chose it, and my personal changes to it. I’m a long distance runner with 1,400 miles under my belt, and only four 5K races.

Why am I training for a 5K?

Mainly, because I want to become a faster runner. But, I also want to create a more varied running regimen with 5 days of running, speedwork, and long runs. Training for a 5K seems like a fun way to incorporate these changes.

This post is part of my 5K PR Training Blog Series.

Hal Higdon 5K Intermediate Training Overview

The Hal Higdon 5K Intermediate Training program is presented for free on Hal Higdon’s website. It is 8 weeks long, 5 days of running each week. There is a 5K test at the end of the 4th week.

Hal Higdon 5K Intermediate Training Program

Each week includes:

  1. A speedwork day of either intervals or tempo runs
    • Intervals: 400M repeats (at 1 mile pace), starting at 5 repeats progressing to 8 repeats
    • Tempo runs: 30-40 minutes long, reaching 10K pace
  2. A long run of 5-7 miles
  3. A fast paced run every other week of 3-5 miles (normal pace otherwise)
  4. 2 days of 3 mile runs at an easy pace

Differences in Hal Higdon’s Novice and Advanced 5K Plans

Since Hal Higdon’s specialty is marathons, its not surprising he only has four 5K plans listed. The Novice 5K plan goes from 1.5 mi to 3 mi in a logical training progression; a walking 5K program is also available.

Hal Higdon’s Advanced plan is 5 to 6 days a week. The sixth day can be a complete rest day or an easy run day. Each week includes two speedwork sessions of intervals (with some 200M repeats) and tempo runs. Additionally, the alternating fast paced run is now every week.

Why I chose the Hal Higdon 5K Intermediate Training Plan

Creating a different running base

There are many cool and advanced 5K programs out there, but this one introduced “quality workouts” (speedwork, long runs, faster paces) without feeling overwhelming.

The long runs cap at 7 miles. Tempo runs are 30-40 minutes. Intervals are 5-8 400M repeats. 5 running days, but 2 are short easy runs. All the individual pieces seem very doable.

The difficulty lies in stringing it all together. If I can piece it together, then I can build on everything. I can make speedwork speedier, long runs longer, and maintain this new varied running regimen!

Lifestyle match

It may sound lazy, but the more convenient a training plan is, the more likely I will follow it.

This plan doesn’t have hill training. Yes, I could go find a bridge or stadium steps on a week day. Yes, I could get a gym membership and use a treadmill on an incline.

This plan doesn’t have highly structured interval runs. Yes, I could get permission to use a running track and work around other groups. Yes, I could go measure it out myself.

But all of that is a lot of work.

A lot of work that isn’t actually running.

I’ve learned my running life is a lot happier and more successful, when my mental effort can go INTO the workout rather than AROUND the workout. I chose this training plan, because I don’t have to drastically change my lifestyle to make it work.

Mental effort is finite; apply logically and sparingly.

Personal adaptations and changes

For sure, I’m going to move Tuesday’s 3 milers to Mondays. This will unfortunately sandwich my long run, but Tuesdays are such a wash for me. I’m not going to pretend they aren’t (see: mental effort).

I’m going to keep the 3 milers flexible. I will rest if my body needs rest. I will cross train if that pesky Job gets in the way.

If things are going well, I will make all the Saturday runs fast paced. Many of those will be race days, anyway.

And then of course, just rolling with it if the plan goes off the tracks.


Hal Higdon 5K Intermediate Training Overview

Before my first sub-30 min 5K

I’m actually running a 5K race tomorrow!

Since it has been a year since I ran a 5K, I wanted to have a baseline for this training program.

  • Saturday: Publix Women’s 5K
  • Monday: Training begins
  • Week 4: Georgia Tech Pi Mile Road Race 5K
  • Week 5: Azalea Crimestoppers 10K
  • Week 7: Miles for Meals 5K (may not be full effort)
  • Week 8: Hilton Head Freedom Run 5K on Memorial Day

Enjoy your weekend! I’ll share a race recap and my first speedwork session next week!

How did you choose your last training plan?

Do you have any tips on choosing? I’d love to hear them.