If you’re getting into the habit of running regularly, you might have found yourself wondering how well you are running compared to other new runners. If you’re able to run for 30 minutes, the typical next question is: How far should I run in 30 minutes?
Beginner runners should aim to run 2 – 3 miles (3.2 – 4.8 kilometres) in 30 minutes. Even if you’re taking regular walking breaks, you should be able to run this distance in half an hour.
In fact, for new runners a run-walk-run training plan is a great way for you to gradually increase the distance you can run without stopping.
The combination of running and walking in different ratios as set out in the NHS Couch to 5K Plan (amongst others) is a great way of improving your running fitness over nine weeks, so that you can eventually run for 30 minutes without stopping.
The big goal for many beginner runners is to run 5K (3.1 miles) in 30 minutes. This is a very achievable target for most new runners to focus on.
Let’s take a look at how you can train to break 30 minutes for 5K.
How to Run 5K in 30 minutes
To run 5K in 30 minutes, you need to be able to sustain a pace of 6:00 min/km (9:40 min/mile) for the 5K distance.
I’ll discuss race pacing strategies later in this article, as getting your pace right on the day is a huge factor in your success. However, more important still is the training you do in preparation for running a faster 5K.
A tried and tested approach to running a 30 minute 5K is to follow a training plan where you run 3 times per week consistently for 12 weeks.
The weekly training runs break down like this:
If you’re training for a 5K race your long run doesn’t need to be anywhere as long as a marathon training long run. Thank goodness, I hear you say!
With the goal of running a 30 minute 5K, your weekly long run should build to 60-80 minutes, at a gentle conversational pace. Don’t worry about distance, rather focus on the time you spend running.
The aim of this long run is to build your aerobic endurance. Even though 5K is perceived as being a “short and fast” distance in the world of endurance running, your performance is way more affected by your aerobic fitness, rather than how much speed work you do!
That said, speed work is important…
If you want to run a faster 5K, you need to train your body to get used to running at faster paces; everything form increasing your leg speed (cadence) and stride length, to improving your lactate threshold so that you can run faster for longer.
Interval workouts like 10 x 400m reps with 90 seconds recovery between intervals, are a go-to session for many runners trying to improve their 5K time. The goal is to run each rep in a consistent time, rather than running the first few way too fast, then fading for the reps later in the workout… That’s harder than it sounds, trust me!
Another good session you might want to try is running 3-4 x 1 mile, with each mile rep at your target 5K race pace. Begin with 2 minutes easy jogging (or even walking) recovery between reps. Then over the course of the 12 weeks, reduce the recovery time between reps, to the point that you eventually only have 20-30 seconds between reps.
Again, the goal here is to be consistent with your reps times. Don’t burn out too early!
There are lots of different speed workouts you can do to improve your lactate threshold. Here’s a link to an article which will give you some more speed workout ideas.
The Running Channel has some 5K speed workout ideas for you in this video:
I should also probably mention, for the avoidance of doubt, that you should always begin every speed workout with a thorough warm-up and finish with a good cool down.
The third type of run you should be doing each week during your 30 minute 5K training plan is a midweek easy paced run. This should be done at the same conversational pace as your long run.
The point of this run is to increase your weekly mileage gradually over time, and add to the time each week that you’re running in your aerobic training zone, supplementing the benefits you’ll be getting from your weekly long run.
How to Plan Your Running Week
If you’re running 3 times per week, trying to improve your 5K time, or how far you can run in 30 minutes, the most important thing is that you stay injury free… so you can keep on running!
One of the best ways to do this is to space your runs out throughout the week so that you run on non-consecutive days. I’d suggest the following schedule:
Tuesday: Easy Paced Run
Thursday: Speed Workout
Sunday: Long Run
Of course, you can plan this however you like, but the key is that you give your body adequate time to recover between your longest runs, and your hardest workouts.
3 Tips to Run a Faster 5K
Here’s a video you should definitely watch if you want to train to run 5K in 30 minutes:
How to Pace a 5K Run
There are various different pacing strategies you can use for running a 5K personal best. In my experience either running at an even pace from start-to-finish, or aiming to run a negative split by pacing the first 2.5K slightly slower than the second 2.5K, are the best options for you to run a fast 5K.
The mistake so many runners make when trying to run a faster 5K, or set other personal bests, is that they set off too fast. Believe me, the “hit it and hold on” strategy is a pretty miserable way to chase a new personal best, and most often ends up in failure!
Instead, practice your target race pace in training, and get used to what it feels like, so that you can run an evenly paced 5K personal best.
In conclusion, if you’re wondering how far you should be running in 30 minutes, I hope this article has provided some insights into both what a reasonable goal should look like for you, and how to go about training for that type of running goal.
Don’t forget, there are no paces or distances that “make you a runner”. If you run, you’re a runner. We’re only ever in competition with ourselves when it comes to running, and the biggest factor that will lead to you running faster or further is consistency of training… so keep at it!