How to Train for a 5K in Two Weeks

Runners Legs in Race
Werner Dieterich

If you signed up for a 5K race (3.1 miles) a few months ago and you’ve now realized it’s just a couple of weeks ago, you may be worried that you won’t be ready to go the distance.

Although two weeks is not a lot of time to prepare for a 5K, it’s possible to still get yourself more mentally and physically ready for the race. If you’ve been exercising a few times a week, take a look at the last two weeks of this 5K Beginner 4-Week Schedule and see if it looks doable to you.

And here are some general tips to follow in the next two weeks:

1. Try a run/walk approach.

Many runners are surprised that their pace is actually faster when they take a 30 second walking break every mile, rather than trying to run all the way through. A short walk gives your running muscles a break and can provide a huge mental boost. Try out a run/walk strategy in training, and then use it on race day by walking for 30 seconds when you hit a mile marker. If you don't want to do timed intervals for walk breaks, you can still work them into your races by walking through the water stop or during the uphill portions.

2. Run on the course before race day.

If you’re doing a local race, get out there and run parts of the course. You’ll feel a lot more mentally prepared knowing what to expect. This is especially important if you typically run on the treadmill -- you'll want to do at least a couple of runs outside leading up to the race.

If there’s a big hill on the course, run several hill repeats (at least a week before) as a strengthening and confidence-boosting workout.

3. Don’t cram.

Don’t try to make up for lost training time by running hard or long every day. You still have time for a couple of long or hard workouts before the race, but make sure they’re followed by a rest or easy day so your body has time to recover.

You'll only wear yourself out or risk getting injured if you try to run long and hard almost every day leading up to the race.

4. Rest the day before.

No amount of running you do the day before the race will improve your performance. And if you do too much, you'll pay for it on race day. So just take it easy so your legs are rested and fresh for the race. You also don't want to do strength-training in the two days before the race, as you'll still probably feel sore on race day. If you're feeling antsy, go for a short walk and do some gentle stretching, but try to resist the temptation to run hard to prove to yourself that you're ready.

Check out these 5K race tips to give yourself the best possible race day experience:

More Race FAQs

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