5K Lactate Threshold Workouts

By Rick Morris

One of the most efficient ways to improve your performance in all race distances is by raising your lactate turn point. Your lactate turn point is the running intensity at which lactic acid and other metabolites begin to accumulate in your muscles. The best way to improve your lactate turn point is by training at your 10K pace or faster. These 5K lactate threshold workouts are all intended to improve your lactate turn point.

While lactate threshold sessions are great for all distances, you can make your workouts even more effective by designing them specifically for your goal distance. Here are some lactate threshold training workouts that are specifically for the 5K distance.

1 Minute Lactate Builders

Lactate threshold workouts work so well because they flood your body with lactic acid and the other metabolites that contribute to running fatigue. There are few workouts that raise your lactic acid levels more than 1 minute lactate builders. This is a generic lactate threshold workout that can be used for all goal distances. You can do this workout on the track, road or trail.

  • Description: 8 x 1 minute repeats at nearly full pace with 2 minute recovery jogs at an easy pace.
  • Pace: 1 minute repeats at a very hard pace. The pace of your repeats should be at very close to all out pace. Stay smooth and relaxed throughout the repeat.
  • Recovery: 2 minutes of very easy paced jogging between each 1 minute repeat

Corner Burners

Here is a very effective lactate threshold workout that is difficult, but highly effective. You will need to do this one on a track

  • Description: After a warm up run around a 400 meter track. Run the corners at a very hard pace that is very close to your maximal running pace. As soon as you come off the corner, run the straight at an easy recovery pace. When you hit the next corner increase your pace to nearly full pace again before slowing to an easy recovery pace for the next straight. Keep up this pattern of all out on the corners and easy on the straights for as long as you can maintain a quality pace on the corners.
  • Pace: Nearly all out pace on the corners and an easy recovery pace on the straights.
  • Recovery: No recovery other than running easy on the straights

5 x 400/1200 Meter Compound Sets

This is a lactate threshold compound set. A compound set uses different components that are performed with no recovery within the set. This lactate threshold session is best done on a track so you can accurately judge both distance and pace.

  • Description: Warm up and then run 400 meters at 5K pace. Then slow down to 10K pace for 1200 meters. Take no recovery between the two components. Repeat that set 4 more times for a total of 5 compound sets. Recover between each compound set with 3 minutes of rest.
  • Pace: 400 meters at 5K pace and 1200 meters at 10K pace.
  • Recovery: No recovery between the components of each set. Recovery with 3 minutes of passive rest between each compound set.

5K Variety Run

I hate doing the same thing everyday. That also goes for running. Here is a lactate threshold workout that adds some variety to your training routine.

  • Description: After your warm up, begin with 800 meters at 5K pace on the track. Then head out to the road for 1 mile at 10K pace. Return to the track for 400 meters at 5K pace then back to the road for 1 more mile at 10K pace. Finish this workout back on the track with 500 meters at mile pace.
  • Pace: The 800 meter and 400 meter components at 5K pace. Both 1 mile road runs at 10K pace and the final 500 meters on the track at mile pace.
  • Recovery: No recovery

12 x 400 Hill Repeats

Hill training is a very versatile type of running workout. Not only will it improve your lactate turn point, it will also help your running strength, running economy and power. If you would like some additional 5K hill workouts click on the link.

  • Description: 12 x 400 meter hill repeats at what feels like 5K pace. Find a hill that is about 400 meters or more in length and of moderate to steep incline. Run 400 meters up the hill at what feels like 5K intensity. Your actual pace will be slower due to the added difficulty of the incline, but try to maintain the same perceived exertion level as 5K pace on flat terrain. Recover between each repeat by jogging at an easy pace down the hill. If you don’t have an appropriate hill in your neighborhood you can do this on your treadmill.
  • Pace: Run the up hill portions at what feels like 5K race intensity. Do the downhill portions at an easy pace.
  • Recovery: None, other than the easy downhill recovery jogs. If you are using a treadmill recover with 400 meters at zero incline and an easy pace.

2 x 2500 Meter Repeats with Fast Finish

Here is an intense but very effective 5K lactate threshold workout.

  • Description: Warm up and then run 2400 meters at 5K pace. Then speed up to sprint pace for the final 100 meters. Repeat that for a total of two sets. Recovery between each set with 400 meters at an easy pace.
  • Pace: 2400 meters at 5K pace and 100 meters at sprint pace.
  • Recovery: 400 meters at an easy pace between the two sets.