How To Train For Your First 5K

Guest post by: Dutch DeGay


So, you’re thinking about running your first 5k…well let’s make it official and hit a site like to find a race near you. Now you have a deadline (in as little as 6 weeks away) and now it’s time to tell everyone you know about your new goal. Why? You now have motivation AND accountability to get this race done. Not to mention, you’re going to reap the benefit of: weight loss (running a mile burns approximately 100 calories), a newfound joy of becoming a runner AND the mental strength of knowing you can make a decision, train to make it happen!

Train For Your First 5K


Remember, if you’re starting from zero…any steps you take on this adventure…are steps to a healthier and happier you. BUT…with a little planning and preparation there’s no reason why you can’t run, and comfortably, the entire 5k distance. Our goal is to build you up slowly to race day over 6 weeks. How you say? Easy just follow this plan of running as little as 3 times a week:


Week — Weekday 1, Weekday 2, Weekday 3

1 — 0.5 mile, .05 miles, 1 mile

2 — 1.5 miles, 1.5 miles, 2 miles

3 — 2 miles, 2 miles, 2.5 miles

4 — 2 miles, 2.5 miles, 3 miles

5 — 2.5 miles, 2.5 miles, 3 miles

6 — 2.5 miles, 2 miles, Race Day 3.1 miles


As you start out, run every other day. A few things to remember: this is new to your body so you want to take a few minutes to warm up before each run but more importantly AFTER each run. Tight, stiff muscles can affect your running gait over time and cause more issues down the road. Make sure you hydrate. Everyone sweats differently given their body and the type of weather they train in, but keeping those muscles hydrated is key! On the days between running, don’t forget that other training (i.e. yoga, strength training, spin class, bike riding, core exercises) will only add to your overall fitness and help you during this build up AND on race day.

Train For Your First 5K


On the days you do run, consider doing hill repeats and/or Fartleks. Hills build strength and make the flats feels fast. We’re not talking about running Mount Everest every week but throwing in a nice 1/4 mile hill or two on one of your training days will pay big dividends come race day. Fartleks get your legs and lungs accustomed to the hard pace of a fast 5K. Warm up, then run a 0.5 mile at your regular pace. Pick up the pace so you’re running hard (not leaving you breathless) for two minutes, then jog for two minutes. Repeat three times. Gradually shorten the recovery interval to one minute or increase the hard effort to four minutes.

So, now you’ve done all this training and you’re standing on the start line come race day…now what?! Well, first…breathe! You’ve put in all this training and you’re going to do great. No need to let stress or nerves ruin the fruits of all your labor. Stay warm and limber as that gun start approaches.

Train For Your First 5K

You want to position yourself near the first 1/3rd of the running field. This should allow you good space to get a nice, comfortable pace in the race after the gun goes off. Pick your line. Always have your head on a swivel. You want to be cognizant of those running around you and of the course. Stay to the right. That allows faster runners to get by you and allows you to focus on the task at hand instead of darting through the field. Remember, to focus on each mile marker. Use each as a gauge. Have your nerves kicked in and you’re running too fast and are short of breath? Then slow down. The first two miles go by and you feel like you’re not expending any effort? Then let’s pick up the pace! As that three-mile marker approaches, it’s time to relish all the hard work you’ve done and give it that final kick to the finish. As you cross the line you should be filled with pride with a grin on your face. You did it!