Train for your first 5k race in 7 weeks

After seven weeks of commitment and dedication, you are in great shape.

Are you ready to run your first 5k race?
Are you ready to run your first 5k race?
Foto: Shutterstock

Are you ready to train for your first 5k race? Even if you don’t consider yourself to be particularly athletic, you can still take on and conquer this fitness challenge, and have a great time doing it! Mark the calendar for your race date and get ready to amaze yourself.

What you need

Aside from a good pair of running sneakers, what do you need to get started with your 5k training? A healthy lifestyle and a routine! Race training is an excellent reason to start following that nutritious diet that you’ve been talking about . Include in your diet plenty of vitamins, minerals, protein, and essential fatty acids to support your body while putting it through the physical stress of running.

Enjoy green veggies, protein-packed nuts and seeds , and nourishing whole grains every day. As a runner, you also need to think about boosting your water intake. Stay hydrated with six to eight glasses a day of water or juice.

To reach your running goals, get organized. Jot down your workouts (and days of rest!) in a training journal, notebook, or even your calendar. Set aside enough time for your workouts so you can stretch before and after each run to help prevent injuries.

Running for endurance

To train for your first 5k race, start slowly. Spend the first four weeks building up your endurance with slow to moderate runs and plenty of cross-training workouts such as one hour of swimming, cycling , or weight training. If you can’t run for the full 20 minutes at first, don’t worry about it. Walk if you need to, but do your best to complete each workout.

  • Week one : Three 20- to 30-minute runs at a light pace, two days of cross-training, two days of rest.
  • Week two : Three 30-minute runs, three days of cross-training, one day of rest.
  • Week three : Four 30-minute runs, two days of cross-training, one day of rest.
  • Week four : Four 35- to 45-minute runs, two days of cross-training, one day of rest.

Running for speed

The last three weeks of your 5k training are about building up your speed and then tapering down your workouts so you are well-rested for race day. One of the best ways to prepare yourself for a great race is to run hills and to do interval training. Find a hill that takes about one minute to run to the top of and use it to do hill repeats, four to six in between a light warm up and cool down jog.

Rest for a minute after each hill repeat. If you have a track nearby your house, you can use it to do 400-meter interval training. Otherwise, you can simply time yourself . Warm up, then do four to six 400-meter (or two minute) repeats at a fast pace. Weeks five and six should look like this:

  • Day one: Hill repeats
  • Day two: 30-minute run
  • Day three: Cross-training
  • Day four: 400-meter intervals
  • Day five: Rest
  • Day six: Fast 20-mile run
  • Day seven: 45-minute run
  • For the week before your first 5k race, take it easy. Do one fast-paced run at the beginning of the week and one long run. Spend a couple of days swimming or biking. Finish out your final week of training with rest and light, easy runs. After seven weeks of commitment and dedication , you are not only well-prepared to have an amazing first race, but you are in great shape and more than ready to start planning for your next race after you cross the finish line!