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5K Training Plan for Beginner Runners

You know running is good for you, but signing up for a race can feel intimidating if you haven’t wandered far from the couch! Luckily, building up to a 5K can help you gain more confidence in your running ability. We know you’ve got it in you to live an active lifestyle, and signing up for a 5K race can help you take that first step.

Why Start With a 5K?

So why a 5K instead of a longer race? A 5K run is about 3.1 miles, so it’s a great option for beginner runners. For those who dislike running, you’ll want a shorter race to help you build positive memories around running. More good news: You start reaping benefits from running as soon as five minutes into the activity. Researchers observed that just 5–10 minutes of slow running (think: 6 miles per hour) daily is enough to extend your life by a couple of years.

Tips to Prepare for Your 5K

Ready to start? Here are a few tips to get you geared for your first 5K:

Budget two months to train. Give yourself a comfortable amount of of time to get ready. Dedicate 30 minutes daily to train for three days per week. For the number of miles to shoot for each day, check out the training plan below.

Map out the course ahead of time. Look up the location of your race, paying extra attention to elevation and weather. You don’t want to be training on flat land if there are lots of hills on race day. Weather-wise, you’ll want to be dressed appropriately so you’re comfortable on race day.

Enlist a running buddy. This can be another person to run with or a really captivating playlist. Some folks like to meditate in silence when they run, but the majority of us like to have a fun distraction.

Be smart with hydration. For a 5K, water is the best bet. You don’t need sugary sports drinks to rehydrate. You also don’t need to guzzle tons of water — let your thirst guide you.

Try a run-walk program. Most people like to jog at a steady pace all the way through, but some people fare better on a run-walk plan. Run-walking is promoted by running guru Jeff Galloway, who claims that it decreases muscle fatigue and recovery time and increases running enjoyment. Here’s what you do: alternate bouts of running with short stints of walking. The duration of your run and walks can be calculated with this tool.

5K Training Plan for Beginners

Week 1 | Total distance: 2 miles

  • Monday or Tuesday:  0.5 miles
  • Wednesday or Thursday: 0.5 miles
  • Friday: Rest Day
  • Saturday: 1 mile
  • Sunday (Fun-Day!): Sip on a glass of red wine

Week 2 | Total distance: 3.75 miles

  • Monday or Tuesday: 1.25 miles
  • Wednesday or Thursday:  1 mile
  • Friday: Rest Day
  • Saturday: 1.5 miles
  • Sunday (Fun-Day!): Sit in stillness for 10 minutes

Week 3 | Total distance: 5.25 miles

  • Monday or Tuesday: 1.75 miles
  • Wednesday or Thursday: 1.5 miles
  • Friday: Rest Day
  • Saturday: 2 miles
  • Sunday (Fun-Day!): Take a long bubble bath

Week 4 | Total distance: 6.5 miles

  • Monday or Tuesday: 2.25 miles
  • Wednesday or Thursday: 2 miles
  • Friday: Rest Day
  • Saturday: 2.25 miles
  • Sunday (Fun-Day!): Dig into a good book

Week 5 | Total distance: 6.75 miles

  • Monday or Tuesday: 2.25 miles
  • Wednesday or Thursday: 2 miles
  • Friday: Rest Day
  • Saturday: 2.5 miles
  • Sunday (Fun-Day!): Go on a brunch date with a friend

Week 6 | Total distance: 7.25 miles

  • Monday or Tuesday: 2.5 miles
  • Wednesday or Thursday: 2.25 miles
  • Friday: Rest Day
  • Saturday: 2.75 miles
  • Sunday (Fun-Day!): Treat yourself to a massage

Week 7 | Total distance: 8.25 miles

  • Monday or Tuesday: 2.75 miles
  • Wednesday or Thursday: 2.5 miles
  • Friday: Rest Day
  • Saturday: 3 miles
  • Sunday (Fun-Day!): Write down 5 things you’re grateful for

Week 8 | You’re race ready!

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