New to running? This beginner’s 5K training plan, written by experienced runner Stacey Johnson, will help get you from beginner to confident 5K runner in just six weeks. On your marks, set, go!

It’s good to practice running on the same day of the week and at the same time. This will get your body used to working harder at that time of the day. This may be difficult if you’re juggling a busy family and work life. But, by working with this approach you can also practice your nutritional preparation. For a full 5K, you shouldn’t need any extra calories during the run. Just make sure you eat a carbohydrate-rich meal two to three hours before, and take on plenty of fluids.

The beginner’s training plan below is a good guide for the complete novice looking to complete their first 5K run. It requires a minimum of six weeks training to improve fitness and to condition the body to run at a sustained pace with little or no breaks.

 

Pace options

Throughout the guide below, we’ll mention the following 4 paces. They are:

– Power walking/jogging: Breathing pattern is relaxed and very controlled.

– Steady running: You can talk to yourself out loud the whole time – maybe cheer yourself on!

– Threshold running: Breathing is a little heavier; you could still talk to yourself, but in short bursts.

– Race pace: Running as fast as you can with relation to the distance, breathing is harder but still controlled.

Warm up

Skipping rope

Before you exercise, make sure you complete a warm up for a few minutes. Some gentle skipping and jogging, as well as some bodyweight lunges, lateral lunges and single leg lunges will do the job.

Beginner’s six week 5K training plan

Week 1

Monday: Alternate between running at a steady pace for 1 minute, then walking for one minute – for a total of 20 minutes. 

Tuesday: Rest/yoga stretches.

Wednesday: Alternate between running 2 minutes (steady pace) and walking for 1 minute – for a total of 20 minutes.

Thursday: Steady, easy jog for 15 minutes (try not to stop, but if necessary then drop down to a power walk to recover, but keep this brief).

Friday: Rest/yoga stretches.

Saturday: Run 3 steady minutes, then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat 4 times, but try to pick up the pace each time you run.

Sunday: Rest.

 

Week 2

Monday: Alternate between 1 minute at a steady pace, 1 minute walk for 20 minutes. 

Tuesday: Rest/yoga stretches.

Wednesday: 5 minutes easy pace, 5 minutes steady pace, 2 minutes walk, 5 minutes steady, 5 minutes easy.

Thursday: 15 minutes easy.

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: Like a pyramid starting with just 1 minute and going up to 3, follow the workout: 1 minute threshold pace, 1 minute walk. 2 minutes steady pace, 2 minutes walk. 3 minutes steady, 3 minutes walk, 3 minutes steady. 2 minutes walk, 2 minutes steady. 1 minute walk, 1 minute threshold.

Sunday: Rest/yoga stretches.

Week 3

Monday: 1 minute threshold, 1 minute walk, 1 minute steady, 1 minute walk. Repeat 5 times. 

Tuesday: Rest/yoga stretches.

Wednesday: 5 minutes steady, 2 minutes walk. Repeat 3 times.

Thursday: 15 minutes easy pace.

Friday: Rest/yoga stretches.

Saturday: 5 minutes easy pace, 2 minutes walk. 4 minutes steady, 2 minutes walk. 3 minutes steady, 2 minutes walk. 2 minutes threshold, 1 minute walk. 1 minute threshold, 1 minute walk, 2 minutes jog.

Sunday: Rest.

Week 4

Monday: Alternate between 1 minute threshold pace, 1 minute walk for 20 minutes. 

Tuesday: Rest/yoga.

Wednesday: 5 minutes easy, 5 minutes steady, 5 minutes easy, 5 minutes steady.

Thursday: 2 minutes steady, 1 minute walk. Repeat 5 times.

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: 3 minutes steady, 2 minutes walk. 2 minutes steady, 1 minute walk. 1 minute threshold, 2 minutes walk. Repeat 3 times. 

Sunday: Rest.

Week 5

Monday: Alternate between 1 minute threshold pace and 1 minute walk – for 20 minutes.

Tuesday: Rest.

Wednesday: 5 minutes steady pace, 3 minutes easy. Repeat 3 times.

Thursday: 15 minutes easy pace.

Friday: Rest/yoga stretches.

Saturday: 1 minute threshold, 1 minute walk. 2 minutes steady, 1 minute walk. 3 minutes steady, 2 minutes walk. 3 minutes steady, 2 minutes walk. 2 minutes steady, 1 minute walk. 1 minute threshold, 1 minute walk. 1 minute threshold, 1 minute walk. 2 minutes steady, 1 minute walk. 3 minutes steady.

This totals 18 minutes of running. 

Sunday: Rest.

Week 6

Monday: 1 minute threshold pace, 1 minute walk. Repeat 8 times. 

Tuesday: 15 minutes easy pace.

Wednesday: Yoga and/or massage.

Thursday: 2 minutes steady, 1 minute easy. Repeat 5 times.

Friday: Rest or easy 15 minute run.

Saturday: 5K Run day!

Sunday: 2 minutes easy pace, 1 minute walk. Repeat 10 times. 

 

Stay safe and remember to follow the latest advice from Public Health England on social distancing.

We hope this training plan helps you reach your 5K target.

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Beginner training plan: Six weeks to a 5K
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Beginner training plan: Six weeks to a 5K
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New to running? This beginner's 5K training plan, written by experienced runner Stacey Johnson, will help get you from beginner to confident 5K runner in just six weeks. On your marks, set, go!
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David Lloyd
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