Anna Wootton

Your 5K Running Plan – Week 3


Happy December! It’s the start of Advent. The start of chocolate Advent calendars…you know, for those of us that still get those (*looks away sheepishly).

Look, there’s no harm in indulging during the holiday season. None whatsoever! And even less harm if you’re countering it with some quality workouts.

I also get that things get busy at this time of year, so it hopefully works well that, this week, not a single workout will be longer than half an hour (except for the yoga classes, but even then you can do an online yoga class and stop at the half-hour point if you’re really time crunched!).

Let’s get right into Week 3 of your 5K running plan!

(Click here for Week 1 and Week 2.)

I hope you guys are doing great so far. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it until the end of this series: you can take longer than a week to stay at each level before progressing. PLEASE take things at your own pace.


DISCLAIMER: Please note I am NOT a doctor or an expert in this field so you will need to consult a doctor before trying a new exercise plan. Please just be smart and listen to your body and rest when it asks for it!

DAY 1: Hit the gym for some cardio time! Let’s develop our legs with an incline treadmill workout.

  • Minutes 1-3 – Warm up with the incline set at 2% and the pace at just 3.5 mph.
  • Minutes 3-5 – Step the pace up to what you can maintain for the remainder of the workout. For some of you, you might stay at 3.5, others might go to 4.0 or 4.5mph. Don’t run though – you want this all to be a fairly brisk walking pace.
  • Minutes 5-7 – Increase incline to 3%
  • Minutes 7-9 – Increase incline to 5%
  • Minutes 9-11 – Increase incline to 7%
  • Minutes 11-13 – Increase incline to 9%
  • Minutes 13-14 – Increase incline to 11%
  • Minutes 14-15 – Increase incline to 12%
  • Minutes 15-17 – Decrease incline to 11%
  • Minutes 17-19 – Decrease incline to 9%
  • Minutes 19-21 – Decrease incline to 7%
  • Minutes 21-23 – Decrease incline to 5%
  • Minutes 23-25 – Decrease incline to 3%
  • Minutes 25-27 – Reduce speed to 3.5mph
  • Minutes 27-30 – Take incline down to 0% and cool down.


DAY 2: Go outside for a walk for your active rest day. You can also do a yin or restorative yoga class.

DAY 3: We’re amping up to two runs this week. One will be endurance-focused, and one will be sprints. Today is endurance. Run for 30 minutes without any stopping, even if you have to go really slowly. This would be a great time to start using a heart rate monitor, if you haven’t already (for more info on using this, see Spotlight On: Gadgets below).

DAY 4: It’s time to build up those muscles again with another weights circuit in the gym! We’re going to focus on lower body especially in today’s circuit. Don’t worry about soreness as you have a complete rest day tomorrow, so push yourself – but only within your own limits! And you’ll definitely need a stability ball for today’s workout!

  • Warm up on a cardio machine of your choice for 5-10 minutes (10 minutes is better but if you’re time crunched you can get away with 5!).

Repeat whole circuit twice for a total of 3 circuits.


DAY 5: Complete rest day. Relax!

DAY 6: Do a yoga class or yoga at home using a DVD or a routine from the Internet.

DAY 7: HIIT sprints on the treadmill (or outside if you can gage your own speed easily).

The important thing about this workout is the intervals. If you need to set the speed lower because this is too challenging then do so. Likewise, if you need more of a challenge, increase the speed.

  • Run at 8 mph for 30 seconds on 5% incline.
  • Walk for 2 minutes.
  • Repeat twice for a total of three intervals, then reduce incline to 3%.
  • Run at 9mph for 1 minute on 3% incline.
  • Walk for 2 minutes.
  • Repeat twice for a total of three intervals, then reduce incline to 1%.
  • Run at 10mph for 1 minute on 1% incline.
  • Walk for 2 minutes.
  • Repeat twice for a total of three intervals.
  • Lower speed even more to cool down for 3-5 minutes.
  • Stretch.




When I got my first heart rate monitor, running changed for me.

I was so surprised to find that that energetic pace I have when I begin my run had my heart beating at way too fast a pace. It was like a giant DOH! when I realized that THAT was why I was exhausted halfway through my run and dragged my poor body through the last half (and I only did that because I had to get home and I wasn’t running in laps!)

I still have a pretty archaic heart rate monitor, so I’m sure the newer ones have much snazzier features that you can take advantage of. I won’t talk about those, but rather the one that helped me – simply pacing myself according to my heart rate. The easiest way to ensure a pain-free and enjoyable run!

I have always found I have the best runs when my pace is pretty steady throughout. You’ll see a little chart with your heart rate monitor that shows you the healthy heart rate ranges for each gender/age/height/weight etc. Everyone differs, but I find it best to try and stick to 60-80% of my heart rate range throughout my run. They always say you can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 227 (for women). It’s a very generic calculation but it gives you a guideline. Then calculate 80% of that and make sure that’s your maximum for your run, and calculate 60% and you have the beginning of your range.

For example, I’m 26 years old so my maximum heart rate, according to this calculation, should be 201 beats per minute.

Therefore I should, for the duration of my run, stay within 121 and 161 bpm. I usually am at the higher end, but I can maintain that pace just fine. Previously, I was always running anywhere from 175-195 bpm and I was just getting tired way too fast.

In short: a heart rate monitor is one investment you will NOT regret!

Okay folks, we’re over halfway there! Meet me next Thursday for your Week 4 plan!


  • December 1, 2011

    Ha ha – that first photo describes my running style perfectly!!

  • December 1, 2011

    Happy Wednesday!

    I like your plan, do not like running but I do like a good HIIT session and yoga!

    Holidays are about not feeling guilty and just enjoying!!!

    <3 xoxo

  • December 1, 2011

    That first picture cracks me up. I love your plan, you inspire me to stay active even when it’s freezing! I try to run on my treadmill frequently, but it helps to have a plan to follow. Hope you have a great rest of your week!