The running bug can bite you, and once you have the desire to run in their first race you can’t wait to get started training. One of the biggest mistakes made is getting started too quickly and increasing your risk of injury.

Some of these types of new injuries can sideline a runner for weeks. And, when a runner is new, this kind of discouragement can extinguish the running flame forever.

5K for Starts

Instead, it’s much wiser to start with a 5k beginning running program that puts you on the right track, so to speak. Remember, that the voyage of a 1000 miles starts with one step. The same is true of wanting to run races or even marathons.

It’s very easy to get impatient and be tempted to skip ahead – but DON’T!

Before running you have to learn to walk and before walking you must learn to crawl. So before marathons let’s learn to run a 5k well. The concepts will help you to continue your running career in health and with the smallest amount of injury possible.

Don’t feel pressured to through the 5k beginning running program faster than you can and even repeat weeks if needed and move ahead only when you’re ready. Don’t do more even if you feel that you can; you’ll end up sore, miserable and wondering why anyone in their right mind runs.

9 Tips for 5K Beginners

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while you are training over the next several months.

1. Use your breathing as a guide when you are running. You should be able to carry a conversation when you are running with a running partner or to yourself.

2. Remember to drink water during the day whether you are running or not, drink at least 10 ounces of water after each run and bring water with you to drink halfway through your run if it’s hot and humid.

3. Space out the training runs throughout the week with at least one day off between runs to give your muscles time to recover and repair.

4. Focus on gradually increasing the time or distance that you are running and leave the faster times until your bones are stronger and your body fitter.

5. Your muscles actually need a day of rest to repair and rebuild. If you run every day you actually won’t see as much improvement as when you rest.

6. Each of your training sessions should take between 20 and 40 minutes each day, three days per week. This will get you fit and improve your cardiovascular fitness. Runners who do more than this are usually interested in more than fitness.

7. On your off days from running you can use a cross training activity like biking or swimming or incorporate weight training to improve your upper body strength.

8. When you are measuring your ability to work through the program you’ll be either measuring your workouts by time run or distance run. If you are running on a track you’ll be able to measure the distances pretty accurately but if you aren’t just use a car to estimate the distance run each session.

9. Before starting each session begin with a 5-10 minute warm up walk or jog. Leave the stretching for after your workout when your muscles are warmed up and ready to stretch. Stretching will help to improve your performance in your next run. Use stretching to help in your cool down routine.

This program assumes that you are a couch potato and haven’t run before. It is also a rather aggressive approach to going from 0-60 in 12 weeks. A more conservative approach would be to take this same program and stretch it out over 28 weeks.

There is no right or wrong way to approach your training. The rule is to listen to your body and find success at the end – not burn out in the beginning or middle of the program.


Jeff Galloway: 5K/10K Training

OffNRunningSports: 5K Walk/Run Beginner Plan

MayoClinic: Fitness: 5K Run: 7 Week Training Schedule for Beginners

Runner’s World: 5K Training Plans

University of Michigan: Beginner 5K Running Program

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