The 101: How to train for a 5K

The 101: How to train for a 5K

Crossing the finish line after running in a distance race can be one of the most empowering feelings for experienced and inexperienced runners alike. Completing a 5K or any other distance race promotes an appreciative sense of pride, empowering the runner to tackle future challenges, whatever they may be.


Running is not easy to do, as many already know. This holds especially true if you are a beginner. It’s often hard enough to even put ones sneakers on, let alone get outside and start jogging down the street. Many people believe that they aren’t capable of completing a 5K, but with some training and preparation, it is possible, and it shouldn’t be too hard!


Step 1: Commit and Prepare

The first step is to commit to the goal. You have to genuinely want to learn how to run, and it is something that you should want to do for yourself. It is important to have a reasonably balanced and nutritious diet, as well as a positive attitude so that you are both physically and mentally prepared to train for and complete the 5K. A healthier lifestyle altogether promotes a natural good mood, so you’ll be motivated to get moving.


Step 2: Make a Plan

Success starts with a plan, not blind running. You don’t want to hurt yourself or burn out too quickly, and too little activity will leave you unprepared when the big day comes. Choose which days you’re going to train on and make room in your schedule, if you can, to accommodate training.

  • First pick rest days, for example, Monday and Friday. You don’t want injure yourself and your body needs time to recover.
  • On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, run at a comfortable pace, but challenge yourself every time you hit the pavement. In week 1, run 1 to 1.5 miles or more, depending on your abilities. Each week, try to improve! You can even try to up your pace.

*Note: Treadmills aren’t uneven like the street! A mile on the pavement is not equivalent to a mile on a flat treadmill. If you run on the treadmill, up the incline at least 1 to 2 notches to mimic natural street grades.

  • Make Wednesday a cross-training day. This could be anything from an elliptical machine to swimming to biking: you pick. Try to do at least 30 minutes of activity.
  • On Sunday, you should take it easy, but continue to be active. Run at a comfortable pace or do some cross training. You can even do a light run/walk combination. Just keep moving!


Try not to skip training days either. It’s ok to miss a few, but try your best to make them up. This schedule is also interchangeable. If you don’t feel like running on Tuesday, switch it out! But the less you run, the worse off you’ll be in the end, and you certainly don’t want to stop during the race.


Step 3: Get Support


While it is easy to say, “I’m going to run every day!” it’s not always that easy to follow through with the plan. Running with a friend encourages both of you to push forward, even if you desperately want to stop. After all, you can’t let yourself seem weak, can you?


If you can’t find a friend to run with, there are a plethora of smartphone apps that are fun and helpful.





Health and Fitness Apps:


1. Runtastic: “Makes sports fantastic! This app tracks different metrics such as distance, time, speed, elevation and heart rate. It even offers an easy-to-read GPS-linked map of where you ran and how fast you were running at each location during the run. It’s FREE!


2. Runkeeper: Similar to Runtastic, this app uses GPS as well and connects to Facebook so that you can join in with your friends and share your progress. The app allows you to set goals and targets so you can achieve what you’d like. It’s FREE!


3. C25K: This FREE 5K trainer app builds you up to run a 5K in just 8 weeks. You simply run for 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week. An audio coach trains you through your run. Don’t worry; the app starts you off easy with an combination of walking and running. You’ll be ready in no time.


4. Zombies, Run!: This app is unique in that it trains you for a 5K in 8 weeks by escaping zombies!  The app tells you when to walk, run, jog or stretch as a story is told through your headphones in unique radio messages and voice recordings.


5. Charity Miles: Allows you to earn money and raise awareness for different charities just by running, jogging or walking! The app is FREE and you can should to earn money for Stand Up to Cancer, Feeding America, Autism Speaks, Wounded Warrior Project or the ASPCA.