Beginners Guide to Running a 5K

Written by ManokanRunner 

Many runners, myself included, started running to trim down and lose weight. I just started jogging around our neighborhood. It didn’t occur to me that I will be able to finish a 5K fun run nor reach as far as 42K!  You may now be thinking seriously of running and you feel that it is time to step up your running prowess and join a 5K in the near future.

Aiming for a 5K run is an excellent motivation for new runners.  Participating and finishing a 5K run will give you a sense of fulfillment and enjoyment to fuel up your passion for running.  Eventually, you’d be playing around with the idea to run a full marathon.

But where do you start?  How do you prepare for a 5K?  How do you train for it?  How long should you train?  Is it OK to walk?  Here are the answers.

A 5K is the best event to start running.  While there are 3Ks also, the 5K event provides just the right challenge and effort for those who are starting to run.  To achieve your goal of running and finishing a 5K run, we collected simple running plans we took from different websites.  You can choose a 5-week training plan or even an 8-week training plan.  For those who have been going to the gym for quite sometime or have been into some active sports, a 5-week preparation would be ok.  But for those who haven’t tried running before, the 8-week training plan is recommended.

Some Reminders Before You Start

1.    Start slow. Too many people have failed in their attempt to train themselves effectively because they start too fast and train too hard. You should ease your training plan according to your body’s capability gradually increasing your regular running pace to achieve the 5K competency.

2.    Stick to the plan. Don’t try to skip ahead of the training program. When you get impatient, stop yourself from advancing to the next level of training to avoid burn out.

3.    Repeat if needed. If your body feels pressured to continue with the training and if you feel that you can’t cope up with the plan, avoid moving to the next level of training. Maintain the current week of your running plan, and go ahead with the training when your body is capable.

4.    Don’t forget to stretch. Start and end your training sessions with stretching exercises to avoid any injuries. Injuries can have unfavorable effects on your training schedule and render you incapable to continue your bid to run.

5.    Warm ups are important. After stretching at the start of your training session, proceed with a 5-10 minutes of warm up – either an easy jog or a walk would do. This will loosen up your leg muscles to achieve maximum efficiency in your actual training.

6.    Take your rests. Rest days are as important as training days in your routine. Don’t take rest days as “nothing” days. Make it as a program to make time for your muscles to rest and recover after days of training. It will equip your muscles enough time to build and recuperate for the next training session.

7.    The goal. Your minimum goal is to run and finish the 5K event and not to race it, so don’t be too hard on your body.

8.    Rest before the race. Take about 2 to 3 days of rest before the actual run. By rest, I am not referring to inactive rest, but rest from training. You can engage in activities like swimming, biking or jogging, just make sure that the intensity of your activity is lower than your training course.

9.    Don’t try anything new on the race day. This includes new running shoes, socks, shoelaces, shirts, shorts or pants, foods and drinks, etc. If you really wanted to use your new gears, be sure to use them on your training runs 2 to 3 weeks before the race.

Training Plans

Below are links to different training plans.  Select which one suits your current fitness level.

5-week 5K Beginners Training Plan from Provides a simple and quick training plan starting with run-walk intervals for 15 to 25 minutes in the first week and eventually increasing to 45 minute run at the 4th week.  Train four times a week and with rest days in between.

6-week 5K Beginners Traning Plan from Runners World Train for six weeks in easy mode.  Easy means a pace or speed comfortable to you.  You should be able to talk while running without losing breath.  Training plan is time based.  Run for a prescribe time and not on a given distance.  Train four times a week and with rest days in between.

8-week 5K Beginners Training Plan from Hal Higdon This training plan is distance based.  Run starting at 1.5 miles and gradually increase to 3 miles.  Long runs on weekends for endurance building.   Train four times a week and with rest days in between.


1 mile = 1.6 kilometers


1.  Can I walk during the race? Yes, you can.  No one will stop you from doing it.  But learn to slow down gradually before stopping.  Avoid stopping abruptly since there are other runners behind you who might be running fast and you’d bump to each other.

2.  How fast should I finish a 5K? For your first run, concentrate on finishing the race rather than how fast you should finish.  Don’t be scared if you finish last.  There is no shame on that.  On the average, runners would complete a 5K between 30-45 minutes.


~ by Road to Relevance on February 15, 2010.

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