The following 5K training tips for beginners should help you be successful in your first attempt at this distance. A 5k is just over three miles, or 3.1 to be exact. Are you ready to get up off of the couch and try a 5k? It takes some time and effort, but it's a great way to get in shape and lose some weight in the process
Before we get to any training schedules, here are two important rules to follow.
1. Be consistent with your training.
2. Increase the distance you run, or the amount of time you exercise each week.
Those are the two most valuable tips I can give you. Follow these rules like they are the law of the land. All serious runners who are training for a 5k up to a marathon abide by these rules too. To get better at running, you have to run consistently, and you have to work harder each week. There are a few exceptions to these two rules, but they only apply if you are injured, or if you are in very good shape and are saving your energy for a big race like a marathon.
Let's go in depth a little further with each of these two rules of 5k training for beginners. The first rule is by far the most important. You have to establish a running routine. I strongly suggest exercising four times per week for 30 minutes each time. Some plans say you only have to run twice a week or three times a week, but I think four is a great way to go because it forces you to run on back to back days at least once a week. This helps your body adapt to running quicker than always having a lot of recovery time. Your body has probably been in "recovery" mode for years. Make it work a little now.
The second rule, is all about increasing the intensity of your running and or walking. There are two approaches to increasing the amount you run. I like to look at the 30 minutes as a total time of exercise. My wife approaches the 30 minutes where she will run for about 10 minute, walk for 10 minutes, and then run the last 10 minutes. As she gets in better shape, she will run for maybe 12 minutes the first time, then walk for 8 minutes, and then run the last 10 minutes again. Eventually she will work her way up to taking shorter and shorter walking breaks in the middle of her run. By the end of this training method, there is no break in the middle and you end up jogging for the whole 30 minutes. That's when I consider you ready for a 5k. If you can jog at a decent pace for 30 minutes straight, you are ready for a 5k. Typically, even a slow jogging pace is at least 12 minutes per mile. That means, you are well over 2 miles after jogging for 30 minutes at this pace.
The other approach is to jog for as long as you can, and then walk the rest of the time. I prefer this approach. When I am working my way back into shape, I will go out for a run, and maybe make it for 12 minutes. The next 18 minutes, I will walk for a total of 30 minutes of running and walking. For my next workout, my goal is simple. I will try to run for more than 12 minutes without starting to walk. Slowly, I will work my way up to jogging for a total of 30 minutes.
Now, one thing that you need to be very sure of is that there will be set-backs. This is very normal. You might be up to running for 20 minutes straight for a couple of weeks, and then one day, you can hardly make it 10 minutes. Don't worry. Just get back out there with a good attitude next time and do your best. You'll get back to that level again soon enough. This leads back to rule number one. Be consistent, even if the training isn't going well at the time.
Here are two very complete 5k training plans. The first one is called Start Walking, Get Running, Lose Weight. I wrote this plan with the help of some other running experts. It has more than just a 5k plan. It walks through many other running issues like running form, what shoes to wear, and much more.
A very popular and simple program to follow is The Couch to 5k plan. Just follow the weekly schedule as it leads you towards your first 5k. I find that some weeks I have to do twice before I'm really confident with the next step.
I hope these 5k training tips for beginners is helpful. Running a 5k is a great way to introduce yourself to the running lifestyle. You just might like how you feel and look after working your way up to being able to run 3.1 miles. Happy Trails!
- Written by David Tiefenthaler
This article was written by David Tiefenthaler, the founder and main contributor for Tips4Running.com. In addition to running, he's also an author, and a full time teacher.