5K Beginner Runner Training Plan by Coach Andrew Taylor

“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

Beginner 5K Training Plan Terminology

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.

WEEKMONTUESWEDTHURFRISATSUN
125 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train25 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train30 Minute Run30 Minute RunRest
225 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train25 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train30 Minute Run30 Minute RunRest
330 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train30 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train30 Minute Run35 Minute RunRest
430 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train30 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train30 Minute Run35 Minute RunRest
535 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train35 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train30 Minute Run40 Minute RunRest
635 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train35 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train30 Minute Run40 Minute RunRest
740 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train40 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train30 Minute Run45 Minute RunRest
840 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train40 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train30 Minute Run45 Minute RunRest
940 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train30 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train30 Minute Run50 Minute RunRest
1030 Minute Run30-45 Minute Cross-Train30 Minute Run30 Minute Cross-Train30 Minute Run5K RunRest