The Cutting-Edge Runner 5K Training Plan, Level 3, is recommended for runners who want to complete a successful 5K race in 9 to 12 weeks and whose current fitness level allows them to run about 4 times per week, 25 to 30 minutes per run.
The first 3 weeks of the plan are optional, making it adjustable from 9 to 12 weeks. If you choose to do fewer than 12 weeks of the plan, it is hoped that your recent training has been similar to the first 1-3 weeks of this plan.
The workout schedule includes 4 runs per week, plus 2 optional strength workouts per week. It begins with a weekly total of 1 hour and 45 minutes of running and builds up to 3 hours and 7 minutes.
All of the running workouts are based on the Cutting-Edge Runner Pace Zone Index (PZI), which allows you to do every step of every workout at precisely the right effort level for you. The best way to take advantage of this great tool is by downloading the training plan onto a Garmin Forerunner 301, but you can also use the PZI in a more approximate way without this device.
Key workouts in this plan include the following:
Foundation Runs: Steady, 25-55-minute runs mainly at Moderate Aerobic pace (Pace Zone 3)
Foundation Runs + Strides: Foundation Runs followed by a set of 30-second bursts at Speed pace (Pace Zone 10)
Long Runs: Steady, 1-hour runs mainly at Moderate Aerobic pace
Fartlek Runs: Foundation-type runs including 30-second bursts at VO2max pace (Pace Zone 8)
Short Intervals (1): Runs featuring 30- to 60-second intervals at VO2max pace separated by jogging recoveries at Low Aerobic pace (Pace Zone 2)
Weeks 4, 7, and 10 of the plan are recovery weeks. Training is slightly reduced in these weeks to afford an opportunity to absorb recent training and prepare for more challenging training to follow. Week 12 – race week – is a taper week, meaning training tapers down during the week to ensure you’re rested and ready to perform on race day.