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How to Train for a 5K Run - 5K Training Tips For Beginners

woman running during sunset
by Nook Sports on May 7, 2018

Does the thought of running 3.1 miles scare you a little? Have you ever said to yourself, "I can't even run a mile, let alone more than three!"

Then you're the perfect person to train for a 5K!

woman running during sunset

The 5K may sound like a long distance, but it's the ideal starting race length even if you've never run before in your life. With proper training, you can successfully reach the finish line healthier, happier and more invigorated than you thought possible!

Below are some of our favorite 5K training tips for beginners. 

Develop a Training Schedule for a 5K

The last thing you want to do is "wing it" and just show up on race day without training beforehand.

How long should your training last? Most experts suggest starting about eight weeks prior to race day. This gives your body enough time to warm up to the challenge and get accustomed to running.

Obviously, you'll be starting small and doing low mileage a few times per week with walk/run experiences. For instance, your training schedule might look something like:

  • Weeks One and Two: For five days, spend 30 minutes walking for 45 seconds and running for 15 seconds.
  • Weeks Three and Four: For five days, spend 30 minutes walking for 40 seconds and running for 20 seconds.
  • Week Five: For five days, spend 30 minutes walking for 30 seconds and running for 30 seconds. 
  • Week Six: For five days, spend 35 minutes walking for 20 seconds and running for 40 seconds.
  • Week Seven: For five days, spend 35 minutes walking for 15 seconds and running for 45 seconds. 
  • Week Eight: For five days, spend 35 minutes running. If needed, walk occasionally only to catch your breath.

By your race, you should be able to run the entire distance. Don't try to beat anyone else, though. Just get through the experience and celebrate!

Invest in Proper Running Footwear

Another good hint is to buy running shoes that are meant for your body. Do yourself a big favor and go to a local running store to get your feet checked. You might require motion control shoes or extra-cushioning runners, but you won't know if you don't get tested.

runner tying shoes

Why not just wear your regular old sneakers for your 5K training? Basically, you could be courting trouble. Foot injuries are common among novice and seasoned runners. And improper footwear is a culprit. Yes, running shoes are a little more expensive, but they're worth the investment because they should last between 300 and 500 miles if you take care of them.

Warm up Before Every Run

Short on time? Spend at least a few minutes warming up before hitting the road, track or gym treadmill.

Warming up loosens your muscles and reduces the chance that you'll strain, pull or tear something while in training. Plus, you'll be less achy after you're finished, which is a huge bonus.

Drink Plenty of Water Before, During and After Training Runs

Finally, be sure to stay hydrated. Water is your friend when it comes to prepping for a 5K. The more H2O coursing through your system, the better your performance and recovery.

Now get out there. Today's the perfect time to get one step closer to your first 5K!