A 5k run is about 3.1 miles and is great length for beginners. Preparing for a 5k takes several sessions during the week of about 30 minutes each and can be done in about 2 months. But sometimes the event date sneaks up quick, we’ll be sharing a 2-week training schedule to help prepare. And remember, if you don’t feel comfortable running, you can always join in by walking instead.
Stretching before your training session is crucial. Static stretches are the most commonly used. These hold the target muscle in a lengthened position for a period of time. But, research shows that static stretches could impair performance. With this in mind, we recommend doing dynamic stretching (DS) instead.
Dynamic stretches use controlled movements of the target joint. Some examples of dynamic stretches include hip circles and arm circles. Studies found that DS can improve range of motion and decrease passive stiffness. Dynamic stretches were also found to be better for agility than static stretching.
Check out Dynamic Stretches by Harvard Health Publishing to learn some great stretches.
Your training sessions will build up to running for 30 minutes. While training for 2-weeks may not be enough time to strengthen your legs and your lungs, any training is better than nothing. If you already have a good level of fitness, two weeks may be enough.
Run 1: Run 20 minutes at a comfortable, conversational pace. Walk for 1 minute, then run for 6 more minutes.
Run 2: Run 24 minutes at a conversational pace.
Run 3: Run 26 minutes at a conversational pace.
* Conversational pace is when you are able to talk and not breathless while running
Run 1: Run 28 minutes at a comfortable, conversational pace. Walk for 1 minute, then run for 6 more minutes.
Run 2: Run 30 minutes at a conversational pace.
Run 3: Run 20 minutes at a conversational pace. This keeps your body from being too taxed just before the race.
Rest the Day Before
If you’re using this guide for a different 5k and have more time to train, we recommend Jeff Galoway’s book, titled Galloway's Running 5k/10k. This is a great resource for anyone who’s getting ready for a big run. You can purchase it online or get the free training schedule from MayoClinic.
Cooldown and Stretching
Cooling down after a workout allows a steady decrease in heart rate and body temperature. This keeps you from feeling sick or passing out.
Stretching is another important part of the cooldown that reduces muscle cramping and stiffness.
We also recommend trying a foam roller after your workout. Research shows that foam rollers have plenty of short-term benefits such as pain perception and range of motion.