Run/Walk 5K Training Program

8 Weeks to Acing Your First Race

sporty young women running on city street
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This eight-week 5K training program is designed for beginning runners or those who currently do walk/run workouts who'd like to pick up the pace and build up to running a 5K race. These races, which are the equivalent of 3.1 miles, are great starter races: You can train for one fairly quickly (this program is eight weeks long) and it's easy to find local 5Ks to participate in, as they're a popular race for fundraisers and other community activities.

And since a 5K race is relatively short, the recovery time after running one is a matter of days (it could take even a seasoned runner several weeks to get back on track after doing a marathon). Besides, you're bound to score your first race t-shirt by running a 5K.

How to know if you're ready for this training program? Some guidelines:

Regardless, if you haven't had a recent physical or you have any health concerns, see your doctor to get cleared for running. And do make sure that you have the right type of running shoes for your feet. Don't skimp on footwear: Go to a store that specializes in athletic shoes and have a professional help you pick a pair that fit your feet comfortably and properly.

As the runs get longer, be sure to keep your blood sugar boosted by eating an energy bar (or equivalent) about an hour before exercise.

Keep In Mind

This program is designed to help you gradually build up from alternating running and walking to running continuously for specified amounts of time, per the instructions outlined below.

Start each training session by warming up: Walk briskly or jog slowly for five to 10 minutes. Do the same at the end of the workout to cool down. When you're doing the running portion of each training session, take it slow so that you don't get too burned out to finish. One way to check yourself for over-exertion is to try to talk while you run: If you're huffing and puffing too much to do that, slow it down a bit.

You don't have to do your runs on specific days; however, you should try not to run two days in a row. It's better to take a rest day or do cross-training on the days in between runs. Cross-training can be walking, biking, dancing, swimming, or any other activity (other than running) that you enjoy. This approach will help reduce the risk of injury and stress, by giving your body time to recover between training sessions.

Finally, be sure keep yourself well-hydrated on workout days. As your runs become more intense, fuel up by eating a small snack that combines a bit of lean protein with a complex carb (half a peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread, a cup of whole-fat yogurt with fruit, or a low-sugar energy bar will do the trick) before you hit the track.

Week 1:
Day 1: Run 5 minutes run, walk 1 minute; repeat five times
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Run 5 minutes run, walk 1 minute; repeat five times
Day 4: Cross-train for 40 to 45 minutes
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Run 6 minutes run, walk 1 minute; repeat five times
Day 7: Rest or take a 30-minute walk

Week 2:
Day 1: Run 7 minutes run, walk 1 minute; repeat four times
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Run 7 minutes run, walk 1 minute; repeat four times
Day 4: Cross-train for 40 to 45 minutes
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Run 8 minutes run, walk 1 minute; repeat four times
Day 7: Rest or take a 30-minute walk

Week 3:
Day 1: Run 9 minutes run, walk 1 minute; repeat three times
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Run 10 minutes run, walk 1 minute; repeat three times
Day 4: Cross-train for 45 minutes
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Run 11 minutes run, walk 1 minute; repeat three times
Day 7: Rest or take a 30-minute walk

Week 4:
Day 1: Run 12 minutes run, walk 1 minute; repeat three times
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Run 14 minutes run, walk 1 minute; repeat three times
Day 4: Cross-train for 45 minutes
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Run 15 minutes run, walk 1 minute; repeat two times
Day 7: Rest or take a 30-minute walk

Week 5:
Day 1: Run 16 minutes run, walk 1 minute, plus a 12-minute run
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Run 18 minutes run, walk 1 minute, plus a 10-minute run
Day 4: Cross-train for 45 minutes
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Run 20 minutes run, walk 1 minute, plus a 10-minute run
Day 7: Cross-train for 30 minutes

Week 6:
Day 1: Run 23 minutes run, walk 1 minute, plus a 5-minute run
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Run 24 minutes run, walk 1 minute, plus a 5-minute run
Day 4: Cross-train for 45 minutes
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Run 25 minutes run, walk 1 minute, plus a 5-minute run
Day 7: Cross-train for 30 minutes

Week 7:
Day 1: Run 26 minutes
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Run 28 minutes
Day 4: Cross-train for 45 minutes
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Run 30 minutes
Day 7: Cross-train for 30 minutes

Week 8:
Your first 5K is this week! Take it a little easier this week, so that you're well-rested. Good luck!
Day 1: Run 25 minutes
Day 2: Cross-train for 30 minutes
Day 3: Run 20 minutes

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