How To Train To Run Your First 5K

By Scott Colby

Owner, Fitness Adventures USA

If you’re new to running, then a goal of running your first 5K race is both realistic and attainable.  I mean afterall, you don’t want to go from never running to running a marathon, do you?  That would be pushing it and you would have a pretty decent chance of getting injured.

In case you didn’t know it, 5K is 3.1 miles, which is a great goal for beginners.  With this training schedule below, only go on to the next level when you feel comfortable with your current stage.  You want to avoid injury and burnout first and foremost.

A 7 week program should be just enough time for you to learn how to run for 30 straight minutes, which is the approximate amount of time it will take you to run 5K.  With this training schedule, you’re not looking to set any world records.  The goal is to have you run 5K without stopping and finish the race.

First, get consent from your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to begin a running program.  Week 1, you’re just going to be walking.  Start by walking 20 minutes straight at a comfortable pace for the first 2 days.  Days 3 and 4, you’re going to walk for 25 minutes straight and days 5 and 6 you’ll walk for 30 minutes straight.

Assuming your 1 week walking program went well, you can move onto stage 2 of the training which will be a run/walk combination training.

In week 2, you’re going to run 1 minute and walk 5 minutes for 5 straight rounds (30 minutes total).  You’ll do this 3 days per week until you feel comfortable.  Each week you’ll add 1 minute to the run time and subtract 1 minute from the walk time, until you can comfortably run for 30 minutes straight.

So your Training Schedule looks like this

Week 1 (Complete the 6 day walking program)

Week 2 – Run 1 minute, walk 5 minutes for 5 straight rounds –> 3 days per week

Week 3 – Run 2 minutes, walk 4 minutes for 5 straight rounds  –> 3 days per week

Week 4 – Run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes for 5 straight rounds  –> 3 days per week

Week 5 – Run 4 minutes, walk 2 minutes for 5 straight rounds  –> 3 days per week

Week 6 – Run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute for 5 straight rounds  –> 3 days per week

Week 7 – Run 30 minutes consecutively  –> 3 days per week

Remember, you’re just getting started, so don’t be too concerned with pace or distance.  Aim for running 30 minutes, 3 days per week and sign up for a few 5Ks in your local community.  Once you get comfortable running in a few races, you can work on increasing your speed and running longer distances.  Not only is running a great way to get fit, but participating in 5K races helps local charities too!