Four-Week 5K Training Plan for Beginners

Learn how to successfully run 3.1 miles

This four-week 5K training schedule is perfect if you're a beginner with a race scheduled a month away. It's specifically designed for beginner run/walkers who want to build up to continuously running a 5K (3.1 miles) race. If you're a more experienced runner, you should use a four-week intermediate 5K schedule or a four-week advanced 5K schedule.

For best results and, more importantly, to prevent injury, use this plan only if you've been active in the past month. Ideally, to start this training program, you should have either completed the four weeks to 1 mile program, been active a couple of days a week, or can already comfortably run a half mile.

5K Training Plan Overview

With this plan you'll make slight increases in your running distance while making small decreases in your walking distance each week. After four weeks, you'll be able to run the 5K distance without a walking break. Of course, if you want to take a walking break during your 5K, that's OK too.

You don't have to do your runs on specific days; however, you should try not to run two days in a row. Either take a complete rest day or do cross-training on the days in between runs. Cross-training can be cycling, yoga, swimming, or any other activity (other than running) that you enjoy. Strength training two to three times a week is also very beneficial for runners.

If you find that this training program is progressing too quickly for you, you can add a week and repeat the workouts before moving on to the next week.

Running Pace

There isn't an exact pace you should be striving for in your runs (or your 5K race, for that matter) since everyone's fitness and ability vary greatly. As a beginner runner, you should focus on running at a conversational pace, as you build your running endurance and confidence.

Conversational pace means that you should be able to speak in complete sentences while running—you shouldn't be breathing too heavily or gasping for air.

If you find yourself out of breath, slow your pace or take a walk break. If you're running on a treadmill and you're not sure where to start your pace, begin at 4.0 mph and make slight increases until you feel like you've reached your comfortable, conversational pace.

Week-by-Week Plan

Week 1

  • Day 1: Run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat 2 times
  • Day 2: Rest or cross-train
  • Day 3: Run 12 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat 2 times
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Run 13 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat 2 times
  • Day 6: Rest or cross-train
  • Day 7: Rest

Week 2

  • Day 1: Run 15 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat 2 times
  • Day 2: Rest or cross-train
  • Day 3: Run 17 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 7 min
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Run 19 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 7 min
  • Day 6: Rest or cross-train
  • Day 7: Rest

Week 3

  • Day 1: Run 20 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 6 minutes
  • Day 2: Rest or cross-train
  • Day 3: Run 24 minutes
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Run 26 minutes
  • Day 6: Rest or cross-train
  • Day 7: Rest

Week 4

  • Day 1: Run 28 minutes
  • Day 2: Rest or cross-train
  • Day 3: Run 30 minutes
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Run 20 minutes
  • Day 6: Rest
  • Day 7: Race! Run 3.1 miles

Race Day Tips

As you prepare for your 5K, here are some tips to make sure you're race-ready.

  • Don't stuff yourself. You don't have to carbohydrate load for a 5K race. Overeating may lead to gastrointestinal distress or other issues. Just eat normal-size portions of a regular, healthy dinner the night before. Try to stick to foods that you've eaten—nothing new.
  • Follow your routine. The golden rule of racing is: Nothing new on race day. Make sure that you're wearing clothes and gear that you've already tested during training runs. You don't want to be surprised by uncomfortable clothes or painful chafing issues on race day. If you've never raced before, learn how to put your race bib on before the race.
  • Do a little warmup. In a shorter race like a 5K, it's a good idea to do a warmup, so you slowly raise your heart rate and get your muscles warmed up. About 15 minutes before the race start, do a slow jog for about five minutes or do some warmup exercises, then walk briskly to the starting line.

A Word From Verywell

Training for a 5K is a very achievable goal for beginner runners, but that doesn't mean that you won't run into challenges along the way. Do your best to stay motivated to keep going with your training. And when you're not feeling motivated, rely on your discipline and habits to train anyway.

If you're nervous about your race, you're not alone. There are plenty of commonly asked questions about 5K racing that you can have answered beforehand. Once you successfully run your race, perhaps you'll be ready for your next challenge. Try a beginner 10K or beginner half marathon.

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