By popular request I'm posting some good 5k workouts and suggestions. What most people don't know about 5k's is that they're FAST! Even as a beginner, you should get some fast track/treadmill/road workouts in to feel MUCH better in your race. Instead of just plodding along, mile after mile after mile (and .2 of another mile) which will only serve to help you plod along during the race, you should include speed workouts to improve lung capasity, lactic acid threshold and will help burn fat and produce more muscle than your average plodding session.
...and you can do it in just 3 days a week (of course more is better, but give what you've got to give).
Just chose two of the following track/treadmill/road/hill workouts per week and then add on a decent distance run of between 4-6 miles for your 3rd workout of the week. Space these workouts out and get some weight training/yoga/walking/fun in on the days between.
Warm up before each workout with a little jog and some faster accelerations
1) 200 meters x 8: Run each 200 at a fast clip and rest 2 minutes between each...I recommend slowly jogging to keep your muscles from becomming sore during this time. Beginners should range between 45-50 seconds for each 200. This may seem slow, but remember you have to do 8! Intermediate runners should range 40-45 seconds and advanced runners around 35 seconds each. Just feel out your first one and find the pace that will allow you to work hard, but still be able to finish the workout. To progress the workout every two weeks take a couple of seconds off your time and run one less 200 until you're running just 200 x 3 AFAP (as fast as possible).
2)800 meters (that's .50 on a treadmill)x 6 or 8: Use your goal race time as a guide. If you want to run a 5k in 30 minutes divide that number by 3 which gives you your minutes per mile, in this case 10 minutes. Divide that number in half, 5 minutes. Run each 800 at this 5 minutes pace. This isn't extremely hard, but will push you a bit and help with recognizing your pace. Rest for a 400 meter jog inbetween and repeat 6-8 times.
3)MY FAV! Must be done on the road or track. Put one minute on your watch alarm. Find a starting point and count each time your right foot (or left) strikes the ground going an easy pace until your watch goes off. Mark where you end. Job back to start. Add 3-5 foot strikes in the marked distance...this means you have to speed up your turn over but NOT increase your distance. I usually start at around 95 strikes. Continue to increase your turn over about 4 times, until you're going pretty much all out...I'm usually at around 105 strikes. Then repeat this 2-3 times. As I said, you're increasing turn over, NOT distance. By the time you're going all out, you're pretty much running high knees and not moving much distance wise...just trying to get that turn over in. THIS WORKOUT ROCKS and has taken minutes off my time!!!!!
4) Mile repeats: Do between 3-5 miles one mile at a time running at your goal pace with an 800 jog in between. If your goal is to run a 6 minute mile, run one mile at 6 minutes and rest for the 800 jog, then run another at 6 minutes and rest...and so on for 3-5 miles. Super hard workout for me, but good!
5) Hill WORK: Find a steep but short hill. One that will take you about 40-60 seconds to sprint up or elevate your treadmill all the way and crank it up to a 10 speed. Anyway, do between 5-7 sprints up the hill and jog back down...throw in some bounding too...long hard jumping bounds. Jog a mile to cool down.
Cool down after each workout with a 1/2 mile to mile or more jog. Stretch (as in sun salutaion, not just touching your toes and done stretch).
Any questions? Ask away! Try a few out and let me know what you think!