Run-Walk 5K Training Plan

“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 5K Run-Walk training Plan is designed for the first-time runner and those who want to enjoy exercising with minimal risk of injury. This plan is popular among those who want to train for their first 5K race, learn to run, or get back into running.

I designed this training plan using Run-to-walk intervals. This approach has been proven to transform everyday people into 5K finishers! The plan is 10-weeks in length and features three days per week of run-walk intervals. Running is mixed with short walking breaks repeatedly throughout each work. As the plan progresses, the running time increases and the walking time decreases.

Some may ask, why 10-weeks and run-walk intervals for my first 5K training? My answer is based on experience as a runner and coach. I know it is far too easy to rush when trying to reach a fitness goal. With this structure, there is time for your body to adapt. The blend of running and short walking breaks will reduce the overall impact on your body and risk of injury. It will also lead to an increase level of enjoyment for running while preparing you to go the 5K distance.

The 5K Run-Walk training plan includes 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.

At a glance

  • Length: 10 weeks
  • Typical Week: 3 Day Run/Walk, 2 Day Cross Train, 2 Day Rest
  • Longest Workout: 60 Minutes
Download 5k Run-Walk Plan

5K Run-Walk Training Plan Terminology

The terms in the 5K Run-Walk training 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.

Run/Walk Workout: All of the workouts in this training plan are designed as Run/Walk repeats. After a proper warm-up, run at a pace/effort slightly above where you can hold a conversation for the listed amount of time (i.e. Run 1min). Next, walk at a pace/effort where you can easily hold a conversation for the listed amount of time (i.e. Walk 2min). Repeat these Run-Walk intervals for the listed number of times (i.e. Run 30sec / Walk 2min and Repeat 8 times).

Training Plan Structure

The following 5K Run-Walk 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.

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