How to Train to Run Your First 5K

Running Program for Beginners

Runners race along path, in mountains
Ascent Xmedia/Stone/Getty Images

Running a 5K is an excellent goal for new runners. You'll get lots of motivation, as well as enjoyment, from participating in a race, and 5K (3.1 miles) is the perfect distance for first-timers. Even if you're a couch potato, you can be ready for a 5K in a couple of months.

Below is an eight-week 5K training schedule to help get you to the finish line. It assumes that you can already run at least a mile.

If you've never run before, follow this step-by-step learn to run plan: 4 Weeks to Run a Mile. If you can only run for 5 minutes at a time, you may want to try this Run/Walk 5K Training Schedule. If those 5K programs don't seem challenging enough for your running level, try this advanced beginner 5K training schedule.

You may also want to check out this Beginners' Guide to Running for beginner runner tips and answer to frequently-asked questions.

How to Follow the 5K Training Schedule:

Each day on the schedule calls for something for you to do, whether it's running, cross-training, or resting. You can switch days to accommodate your schedule. So if you're busy on another day and prefer to workout on a Monday or Friday, it's fine to swap a rest day for a run day.

Some days are rest days,  which are critical to your recovery and injury prevention efforts, so don't skip them. You'll also get mentally burned out if you run every day with no breaks.

When your schedule calls for a run, you should start with a 5 to 10-minute you warm up of walking or easy jogging. A warm up will get your body ready for running by raising your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles. It may also help reduce muscle soreness and lessen your risk of injury.

After you're warmed-up, run at a comfortable pace for the designated mileage. Make sure you end your run with a 5-minute cool down walk and then stretch.

Each week, you'll increase your runs by a quarter mile, which is a lap on most outdoor tracks. If you usually run on roads and you're not sure how far you run, you can figure out the mileage by using a website or app such as MapMyRun or RunKeeper. Or, you could drive your route in your car and measure the mileage using your car odometer.

When the schedule calls for a cross-training (CT) activity (biking, swimming, elliptical trainer, or other cardio activity), do it at easy to moderate effort for 30 to 40 minutes. Strength-training is also very beneficial for runners. If you're feeling very sluggish or sore on a CT or rest day, take a rest day.

Sundays are active recovery days. Your run should be at an easy, comfortable pace. Or, you can do a run/walk combination or cross-train (CT).

5K Training Schedule for Beginners

1Rest1 mi runCT or Rest1 mi runRest1.5 mi run20-30 min run or CT
2Rest1.5 mi runCT or Rest1.5 mi runRest1.75 mi run20-30 min run or CT
3Rest2 mi runCT or Rest1.5 mi runRest2 mi run20-30 min run or CT
4Rest2.25 mi runCT or Rest1.5 mi runRest2.25 mi run25-35 min run or CT
5Rest2.5 mi runCT or Rest2 mi runRest2.5 mi run25-35 min run or CT
6Rest2.75 mi runCT2 mi runRest2.75 mi run35-40 min run or CT
7Rest3 mi runCT2 mi runRest3 mi run35-40 min run or CT
8Rest3 mi runCT or Rest2 mi runRestRest5K Race!

"Aerobic exercise: How to warm up and cool down,"

Continue Reading