Five things to know before your next 5k

In no way am I an expert runner, or really a runner at all, but I have been training for a 5K. Last summer I signed up for my first 5K race. Prior to the race I trained by running a few miles a week and using the beginner level training schedule found below. I finished the race in just under 30 minutes, which isn’t something to brag about, but at least I finished!

This fall I’m hoping to amp up the training and run another 5K race. Now that the high summer temperatures have cooled down, I’m ready to lace up my sneakers and begin running outside to train again.

If you are like me and are trying to get into running form, before you lace up your shoes, here are five things you should keep in mind before you run a 5K:

  • Get plenty of rest before- Prepare yourself for race day by getting quality sleep two nights before the race and taking the day before completely off from any activity.
  • Keep it tight- During the week of the race your running mileage should decrease because you have been training and your legs are prepared for race day.
  • Eat a good breakfast- Two hours prior to the race, be sure to eat the breakfast you’ve practiced with during training. Good breakfast items or “power foods” that will help to fuel your workout include a bowl of oatmeal with dried fruit, a sports bar or a bagel with peanut butter. Make sure to also include hydration in your morning diet, such as water or a sports drink.
  • Get there early- Arrive at the race 60 minutes prior to the start in order to park, get your race packet and find the starting line.
  • Warm up- Gently stretch any tight muscles and start with a 10 minute jog prior to the race.

I’ve found that there are many helpful online resources that provide 5K training regimens for all levels. Below are some schedules and tips I’ve discovered online that can guide you to achieving a successful 5K training experience. Whether you prefer to run/walk, you’re a beginner level runner (like me) or an experienced runner, there are several plans customized to the different levels of running.

Run-Walk Training Schedule– The goal of most beginner runners is to make it to the finish line at their first 5K race. The following schedule is an eight-week training regimen for beginners, which incorporates the walk/run training method. Beginners should start their workout with a 5-10 minute warm-up and a 5-10 minute cool-down. Beginners (and all runners) should also make sure to include rest days or cross-training in between runs.

Week 1:
Day 1: 5/1 x 5 (5 minutes run, 1 minute walk x 5, for a total of 30 minutes)
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: 5/1 x 5
Day 4: 40-45 min cross-training
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: 6/1 x 5
Day 7: Rest or 30 min walk

Week 2:
Day 1: 7/1 x 4
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: 7/1 x 4
Day 4: 40-45 min cross-training
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: 8/1 x 4
Day 7: Rest or 30 min walk

Week 3:
Day 1: 9/1 x 3
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: 10/1 x 3
Day 4: 45 min cross-training
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: 11/1 x 3
Day 7: Rest or 30 min walk

Week 4:
Day 1: 12/1 x 3
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: 14/1 x 2
Day 4: 45 min cross-training
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: 15/1 x 2
Day 7: Rest or 30 min walk

Week 5:
Day 1: 16/1 + 12 min run
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: 18/1 + 10 min run
Day 4: 45 min cross-training
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: 20/1 + 10 min run
Day 7: 30 min cross-training

Week 6:
Day 1: 23/1 + 5 min run
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: 24/1 + 5 min run
Day 4: 45 min cross-training
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: 25/1 + 5 min run
Day 7: 30 min cross-training

Week 7:
Day 1: Run 26 minutes
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Run 28 minutes
Day 4: 45 min cross-training
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Run 30 minutes
Day 7: 30 min cross-training

Week 8:
Your first 5K is this week! Try to take it a little easier this week to be well-rested for your 5K.
Day 1: Run 25 min
Day 2: 30 min cross-training
Day 3: Run 20 min

Beginner Level Training Schedule As a beginner level runner it is important to designate two days a week as rest days in order to recover and prevent injury. It is also important to remember to cool down and stretch after a run. Also, be sure to make time to do 30 to 40 minutes of cross-training activity, such as biking, swimming, elliptical trainer or a different cardio activity once or twice a week. In addition, strength-training a few times a week will be beneficial to your training program.

Week

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

1

Rest

1 mi run

CT or Rest

1 mi run

Rest

1.5 mi run

20-30 min run or CT

2

Rest

1.5 mi run

CT or Rest

1.5 mi run

Rest

1.75 mi run

20-30 min run or CT

3

Rest

2 mi run

CT or Rest

1.5 mi run

Rest

2 mi run

20-30 min run or CT

4

Rest

2.25 mi run

CT or Rest

1.5 mi run

Rest

2.25 mi run

25-35 min run or CT

5

Rest

2.5 mi run

CT or Rest

2 mi run

Rest

2.5 mi run

25-35 min run or CT

6

Rest

2.75 mi run

CT

2 mi run

Rest

2.75 mi run

35-40 min run or CT

7

Rest

3 mi run

CT

2 mi run

Rest

3 mi run

35-40 min run or CT

8

Rest

3 mi run

CT or Rest

2 mi run

Rest

Rest

5K Race!

 

Intermediate – Advanced Level Training Schedule– This schedule is intended for runners who have already run at least one 5K race and are looking to improve their time or achieve a personal record. Adding speed training is the key to obtaining your personal record. This schedule includes cross-training activities to give your muscles and joints a rest while still working on cardio, tempo runs that help develop anaerobic threshold to run a fast 5K, interval workouts, and rest days to prevent injuries. If you are an even more experienced running, you can try this plan.

Week

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

1

CT or Rest

3 x 400 IW

2 m run

30 min tempo

Rest

5 m run

30 min EZ

2

CT or Rest

4 x 400 IW

2 m run

30 min tempo

Rest

5 m run

35 min EZ

3

CT or Rest

4 x 400 IW

3 m run

30 min tempo

Rest

6 m run

35 min EZ

4

CT or Rest

5 x 400 IW

3 m run

35 min tempo

Rest

6 m run

40 min EZ

5

CT or Rest

5 x 400 IW

3 m run

35 min tempo

Rest

7 m run

35 min EZ

6

CT or Rest

6 x 400 IW

3 m run

40 min tempo

Rest

6 m run

40 min EZ

7

CT or Rest

6 x 400 IW

3 m run

40 min tempo

Rest

7 m run

45 min EZ

8

CT or Rest

3 m run

30 min tempo run

2 m run

Rest

Rest

5K Race!

 

Have you run a 5K before? What tips can you share with readers who may be training for their first race?

 

Photo Credit: Jeremy.Wilburn

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