Are you a beginning runner, thinking of entering your first 5K race? Anyone who’s already completed a 5K probably has a good idea of what’s required to get ready again, so we’ll assume you’re a neophyte.
Give yourself at least eight weeks to prepare for the big day. You’re going to start out easy, alternating brief bouts of walking with running, and working up to running at least 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) with relative ease.
It’s helpful to know the distances you will travel while training. Measure your route’s mileage with your automobile, if necessary (and feasible). Running/walking on a typical 400-meter high school race track means you’ll cover 5,000 meters (5K, or 3.1 miles) in 12-and-a-half laps. The point is to know when you’ve gone at least 3.1 miles and work towards running that distance at your best pace.
In the Beginning
During week one, alternate between one minute of running and two minutes of walking. Repeat at least 10 times. Do this on alternate days, resting on Sunday. You’ll do an easy walking session for 30 minutes, on the days you aren’t running (or resting).
During week two, gradually increase time spent running, spending less time walking. By the end of the week, you should be running at least four minutes at a stretch. Do this at least six times per session. Continue observing your Sunday rest day, and do 30 minutes of easy walking on in-between days.
By week three you should have progressed from four to six minutes of uninterrupted running, followed by a one-minute rest/walk, repeated at least four times. By the end of week four, you should have worked up to at least a dozen minutes of running, non-stop, before slowing for your recovery/walk for no more than one minute.
You’re Getting There!
By the end of week five, you shall have worked up to a 15-minute run followed by a brief, one-minute walk period, followed by another 14 minutes of running.
Week six sees you progress to running for 19 minutes uninterrupted, followed by that one-minute rest. On the heels of that brief respite, you should be able to run for another 10 minutes.
By week seven, your goal is to progress to a 26-minute run, followed by that much-appreciated one-minute rest-and-recovery walk, followed by another easy three-minute run.
You’ve Already Crossed the Finish Line
In week eight, runners should be able to run at least 5K per session, five days a week, with one day spent walking. If you make it to week eight, and complete your training, your race should be right around the corner. Good luck!
No matter what happens, you’re already a winner in our book. Give yourself a mental trophy. You’re already far fitter than you were when you started. You went from running for a paltry one minute at a stretch, to a full 3.1 miles all at once! You may even be able to do it without getting winded! That’s a huge cardiovascular fitness achievement. Now the trick will be to remain active. For the rest of your life.