Pick a race for a charity, and you will experience a fun event for a great cause. In addition, having a race goal provides accountability, structure, and incentive for sticking with a regular running program.
I have run a couple 5Ks, three half marathons, and one full marathon. Today, I’m going to officially begin training for the Run for the Water 5K that will take place in roughly 8 weeks. I’m going to blog about my training progress, goals, and other running tips on Mondays for the next two months.
Do you want to train for a 5K too? You may be asking yourself these three questions.
Can I run a 5K?
Do you like to run? That may sound silly, but many people tell me they would love to complete a race…but they hate running and aren’t currently running regularly. You need to enjoy the training process, because that’s what takes up the bulk of your time. The race itself will only last around half an hour. If you don’t like running, pick another goal like biking or triathlon.
If you don’t like running, but enjoy walking, that’s also a fantastic option. If you’re more interested in fun than competition or have any health conditions that would preclude running you can complete a 5K at a fast walking pace or with a mix of walking and jogging. Jeff Galloway has a well-proven walk-run program that many have used successfully – including me, I used walk intervals in all my races.
Check with your doctor to get physical clearance to start training, especially if you’ve had past injuries, surgeries, or have any health conditions.
How long do I need to train before I run a 5K?
Factor in your current health condition, recent exercise history, and goals. Wherever you are, your goal is to do your best without suffering any injury or overtraining. Although most people who work out regularly can run a 5K, you’ll want to dedicate time to training to make the race a great experience and/or meet your goal time.
Assess at this point if your goal is to:
- Complete the race at any pace, including walking: If you haven’t been exercising, you can train regularly for 8-12 weeks and be ready to complete a 5K. In fact, the Couch to 5K program will get you ready in 9 weeks. If you’re just starting out or recovering from injury, your goal should be consistent training and completion, not necessarily speed.
- Complete the race at a moderate pace, running continuously. If you’re in good cardiovascular condition and running regularly, completing the 5K distance should not be a problem. Having a training schedule can improve your time on race day and give you a better experience.
- Race to “win” (or beat your best time): If you are already running regularly and in advanced cardiovascular condition, train 4-8 weeks prior to the race specifically targeting speed work to improve your best time.
How much time do I need to train weekly to be in shape for a 5K?
My personal opinion, from my personal experience, is that an effective training breakdown for a recreational runner (someone racing for fitness and fun) includes 3-4 running, 1-2 low-impact cardio cross training, and 2 strength training sessions each week.
Here’s an example of how you can fit in those training components working out just 4-5 days a week.
- Monday: Cross train (bike) and total body strength
- Tuesday: Run
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Run and upper body strength
- Friday: Rest or Cross train
- Saturday: Run and lower body/core strength
- Sunday: rest
Training Programs and Recommended Resources
- Galloway 5K/10K Training Schedules
- Couch to 5K Training Program
- Runners World 5 Steps for Beginner Runners
- 5K Training Schedule for Intermediate Runners
- Hal Higdon Advanced 5K Training Program
Have you run a 5K before? What is your best advice for others about to start training?