“The advice I have for beginners is the same philosophy that I have for runners of all levels of experience and ability – consistency, a sane approach, moderation and making your running an enjoyable, rather than dreaded, part of your life.” – Bill Rodgers
The Beginner 5K training plan is designed for new runners who want to successfully run a 5K race. The focus of this plan is on a combination of easy runs, longer distance runs, rest days, and optional cross-training.
I have designed this plan as 10-weeks in length and it features four days per week of running. Each running session is based on time instead of distance, leading to a reduced risk of injury and a more enjoyable experience. As the plan progresses, the total running time of each session will increase.
For the Beginner 5K plan, I include optional cross-training workouts. These cross-training workouts allow you to incorporate other activities you enjoy with this training plan. Cross-training activities may include cycling, yoga, elliptical, swimming, or weight-lifting.
Individuals will want to choose this plan if they have been running regularly 2 to 3 times per week for at least 20 to 30-minutes each time. If you are currently running less, that is okay! You may want to consider starting with a 5K Run-Walk training plan to build fitness up to this Beginner 5K plan.
At a glance
Length: 10 weeks
Typical Week: 4 Day Run, 2 Day Cross Train, 1 Day Rest
The terms in the Beginner 5K plan are defined inside the downloaded plan, but let me define them for you here as well.
Warm-Up: Walk for 5 minutes at an easy effort before every workout (run-walk days and cross-training days). A proper warm-up will help to gradually increase heart rate, improve circulation, loosen up muscles, and prepare you for the days workout.
Cool-Down: Walk for 5 minutes at an easy effort after every workout (run-walk days and cross-training days). A proper cool-down will help to gradually bring your heart rate and breathing rate back down to normal levels after the days workout.
Perceived Effort: A way to rate your effort level based on your feelings about the level of intensity on a scale from 1 to 10. 1 is considered ‘At Rest’ and 10 is considered ‘An All Out Level.’ Use this scale to stay in the correct range listed in the training schedule for a given day (i.e. 6-7).
Heart Rate: If you have access to a heart rate monitor then use this device to stay in the correct range listed in the training schedule for a given day (i.e. 60-75% of maximum heart rate).
Cross-Training: Include activities other than running and walking in your training plan. If you are completely new to exercise, then you may want to wait until weeks 4 or 5 to add in a cross-training workouts. If you are already active 3 to 4 days per week, then start the cross-training as scheduled in the plan. Activities for cross-training may include cycling, elliptical, rowing, strength training, swimming, and more. Cross-training allows you to rest your running muscles and work opposing muscle groups. These activities will help to reduce the impact on your body and the risk of injury. Cross-training can also speed up recovery time between run-walk workouts. Cross-training workouts should be done at a moderate level, Perceived Effort of at least 7, or a Heart Rate of 75-80%.
Strength Training: A form of cross-training, strength training can be a great way to increase lean muscle and boost metabolism while at rest. Strength training can be completed using free-weights, resistance bands, weight machines, or classes such as pilates, yoga or cross-fit. Include exercises for upper body, core, and lower body. Warm-up with a walk or another form of cardio. If you are new to strength training, then start with 1 set of each exercise for 12-15 repetitions. The goal is to work your muscles to fatigue or until you can no longer maintain proper form during the exercise. Continue with 1 set of each exercise for weeks 1 through 4, then progress to 2 to 3 sets of each exercise for 8-12 repetitions.
Flexibility: Stretch lightly after every warm-up period. Stretch again after every workout to improve flexibility, increase circulation, and reduce the risk of injury.
Easy Effort: Easy pace/effort is considered slightly above what you can maintain a conversation, 70-75% of maximum heart rate, and 6 to 7 on the Perceived Effort scale.
Moderate Effort: Moderate pace/effort is where you can hear your breathing, but you are not breathing hard, 75-80% of maximum heart rate, and 7 to 8 on the Perceived Effort scale.
Training Plan Structure
The following Beginner 5K Training Plan schedule is only a guide. Feel free to make minor modifications to suit your work and family schedule. You will find more information on 5K training in the the FREE downloadable file.