The 5K Simulation Workout


This is a classic Frank Horwill (a famed British coach who formulated the Five Pace Training Theory used by many great athletes such as Sebastian Coe and Said Aouita) workout which I’ve found very useful in simulating the deep gut, lactic pain of a 5K.

It’s not so much the pace that makes you have to dig deep but rather the very short recovery time in between reps. You have to stay very focused on each rep to keep the pace fast and hard. If you finish the workout feeling fine then you’ve run too slow. If you finish feeling tired and unable to do more then you nailed it!

Warm up for 15 to 20 minutes

7 x 800m with 30 seconds recovery (trying to run 5K pace for the entire run)

Cool down for 15 to 20 minutes

I’ve run this when I was very fit and knew I was ready to race when I could complete this workout successfully by hitting all my splits. It’s a great workout to have a partner in if you train with someone of the same ability. That will help to ensure you can keep pushing hard right to the very last step. Going out too fast will have you slowing down a lot towards the end because there will be too much of a lactic acid build up so make sure you start at a pace that you are ready for.

I’ve personally completed this workout only a handful of times and only when I know I’m very fit. I used the workout to build a lot of confidence so I could go into 5K races knowing I would be able to handle a constant fast pace.

You can find your optimal running paces using the McMillan Running Calculator.

Training for a 5K? Read 5K Race Week Workouts: Fine Tuning for Your Fastest 3.1-Miler.


Andrew Lemoncello (Coach “Lemon” as we call him) is a McMillan Running Coach. Learn more about our Personal Coaching where you can train with a coach like Lemon by your side to plan your training and talk about race strategy, performance nutrition, injury prevention, stretching, and much more.

“I have achieved my goals for 5K, 10K, and now a Half Marathon – thanks McMillan Running!”
-James W, RunClub member

Written By Greg McMillan
Called “one of the best and smartest distance running coaches in America” by Runner’s World’s Amby Burfoot, Greg McMillan is renowned for his ability to combine the science of endurance performance with the art of real-world coaching. While getting his graduate degree in Exercise Science he created the ever-popular McMillan Running Calculator – called “The Best Running Calculator” by Outside Magazine. A National Champion runner himself, Greg coaches runners from beginners to Boston Qualifiers (15,000+ and counting!) to Olympians.

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