How to Train for a 5K Race

Last Updated on by Natalia Bickell

A 5K race is a perfect race for beginners, but it can also be a bit challenging. Don’t worry though; the good thing is that if you are a newbie, then there is a lot you can improve on. In fact, even if you are an experienced runner, then you will still want to improve your pb (personal best time). Regardless, in this article, we’ll be explaining how to train for a 5K race, including picking the right gear and a detailed training plan to follow.

Picking the Right Clothes & Gear

clothes

For starters, if you are a beginner, then you might want to know what to wear when training for the 5K race. You actually don’t need any fancy gear to run your first 5K race, but you will certainly want to be comfortable to have the best running experience on the day.

Choosing Running Shoes

In terms of running shoes, you ought to find a fitting shoe. The interesting thing is that although a shoe might fit in a store, it might actually be a misfit when you put it to the running test. Don’t focus too much on things like brand, color or price. You need a shoe that fits in well with your running style and the shape of your foot.

If you don’t know what your running specialty is, you can visit a running specialty store where your feet will be analyzed and the right shoes recommended.

Choosing Clothes & Running Gear

training

You will also need to find the right clothes and gear before you can get started training for a 5K race. As a rule of the thumb, stay away from full cotton clothes be it socks, tops, or running shorts. They tend to absorb sweat, but once they get wet, they stay wet. They don’t wick away moisture fast, compared to materials like polyester and acrylic.

Women runners will also go for extra clothing like supportive bras, which should also be a comfy fit. These are not just any bras. You should go for supportive bras that are designed for running but don’t forget to test them out before buying.

Clothes aside, you will also require other essential gear particularly a nice watch to keeping tabs on your pace during training. You can also add things like running belts, sun protection cream & gadgets among other things.

Training for the Race

Now that you know a thing or two about running clothes and gear let’s get to the business end of things. How do you train for your upcoming 5K race? To answer this, we will go through a simple guide that should help, depending on your experience levels. Ideally, a beginner should take about 8 weeks to prepare for a 5K race. For this reason, we have tailored our training plan for those who want to reach the finish line of a 5K race. It is also flexible enough for experienced runners though of course!

Essentially the training focuses on building three key things in a runner:

  • To make you faster in the race(speed)

  • To prepare your body and mind to brace long distances(endurance)

  • To let your body recover from tough workouts(recovery)

Know Your Pace!

Before you can delve in deeper to your training plan, it is vital to understand where you are regarding pace. In other words, find out what you have achieved before you can even set new goals. Here is an example of a pace chart to help you understand:

Courtesy:NikePlusRunClub

As you can see, if you achieved a 27.00 minute over a 5K course, then you can look into other columns of the chart to find out what your predicted targets should be. Of course, they aren’t fixed or accurate but just an average expected.

Here is a full Pace Chart you can use to estimate your pace over various distances:

Courtesy:NikePlusRunClub

Let’s now look at the training plan in detail or rather, on a weekly basis:

8 Weeks to the Race

In the first week of your training, you don’t have to do much. Your body isn’t used to running, so you don’t expect to get to the deeper side of the pool that fast. You will just need to do some light runs and a series of workouts but don’t follow up speed work with endurance workouts. This week marks the beginning of your training journey thus you shouldn’t be in a rush to do a lot.

Day

Workout Type

What to do

1

Speed work on Track

  • (2x) 200 meters at Mile Pace

  • Split 800 meters: Run the 600 meters at 5k pace, and the other 200 meters at Mile Pace

  • 400 meters at 5k pace

  • Split 800 meters: Run the first 600 meters at 5k pace, the last 200 meters at Mile Pace

  • 400 meters at 5k Pace

2

Recovery

  • Recover with 1-3  mile Progression Run

3

Endurance

  • Do an endurance run for about 2 miles, which should be the longest run in the week,

4

Recovery

  • Do a few recovery miles

5

Speed on Track

  • 1 mile at your 10k Pace

  • 400 meters at Mile Pace

  • 800 meters at 5k Pace

You can repeat the series twice but do about 3 minutes of recovery

6

Recovery

Do a 1-3 mile recovery run

7

Recovery

You can do a recovery run or take a rest!

7 Weeks to the Race

At this stage, you are now ready to set off. It is that phase of the plan where you should focus on your stamina and a bit of pacing. Again, speed and endurance workouts shouldn’t be done back to back at this stage, while you can also do some CrossFit training.

Day

Workout Type

What to do

1

Speed work on Track

  • 400 meters at  10k Pace
  • (2x) 400meters at  5k Pace
  • 400 meters at  Mile Pace

Ensure that you also do a 2-minute recovery in the between the interval.

N.B: Repeat the mentioned series twice

2

Recovery

  • Recover with 1-3  mile Progression Run

3

Endurance

  • Do an endurance run for about 2 to miles, which should also be the longest run in the week,

4

Recovery

  • Do a few recovery miles

5

Speed

Follow this speed play sequence:

  • A minute at a hard pace, 30 seconds at an easy pace
  • 2 minute at a hard pace, 1 min 30 seconds at an easy pace
  • 2-minute hard pace, 1 minute at an easy pace
  • 3-minute hard pace, 1 minute 30 seconds at an easy pace
  • 3-minute hard pace, 1 minute 30 seconds at an easy pace
  • 3-minutes at a hard pace, 1 minute 30 seconds at an easy pace
  • 2-minutes at a hard pace, 1 minute at an easy pace
  • 1-minute at a hard pace, 30-seconds at an easy pace

6

Recovery

Do a 1-3 mile recovery run

7

Recovery

You can do a recovery run or take a rest!

6 Weeks to the Race

At this juncture, you are now ready to get some consistency in your training. You will add some speed targets while also stepping up the way you control your recovery. But, you should also ensure that speed workouts and endurance workouts aren’t done back to back.

Day

Workout Type

What to do

1

Speed work on Track

  • 800 meters at  5k pace followed by 45-sec recovery
  • 200 meters at  Mile pace followed by 2-min recovery
  • 600 meters at  5k pace followed by 45-sec recovery
  • 200 meters at  Mile pace followed by 2-min recovery
  • 400 meters at  5k pace followed by 45-sec recovery

2

Recovery

  • Recover with 2-3  mile Progression Run

N.B: Keep an eye on your pace over the course of the run

3

Endurance

  • Do an endurance run for about 2 miles, which should be the longest run in the week,

4

Recovery

  • Do a few recovery miles

5

Speed(Intervals)

  • 1000 meters at  10k pace
  • 1000 meters at  Tempo pace
  • 1000 meters at  10k pace
  • 1000 meters at  Tempo pace
  • 1000 meters at  10k pace
  • (4x) 100-meter Strides

Take a 2-minute break between them while also keep your strides at about 30 seconds apart.

6

Recovery

Do a 2-3 mile recovery run

7

Recovery

You can do a recovery run or take a rest!

5 Weeks to the Race

You are getting better at this stage. However, on other days you feel good, but at times you are really feeling the heat. The bottom line is that you are on the right path. At week 5, you will need to scale the speed workout a notch further, including inculcating workouts on your Tempo. You can also include some cross-fitting in the weekly schedule.

Day

Workout Type

What to do

1

Speed work on Track

  • 300 meters at  Mile pace followed by 45-sec recovery
  • 400 meters at  5k pace followed by 2-min recovery
  • 500 meters at  5k pace followed by 2-min recovery
  • 600 meters at  10k pace followed by 2-min recovery
  • 500 meters at  5k pace followed by 2-min recovery
  • 400 meters at  5k pace followed by 2-min recovery
  • 300 meters at   Mile pace

2

Recovery

  • Recover with 2-3  mile Progression Run

3

Endurance

  • Do an endurance run for about 4-5 miles, which should be the longest run in the week,

4

Recovery

  • Do a few recovery miles

5

Speed (Tempo)

  • Do a 3 mile Progression Run at the speed of your Tempo.
  • (8x) 100-meter Strides

6

Recovery

Do a 2-3 mile recovery run

7

Recovery

You can do a recovery run or take a rest!

4 Weeks to the Race

It is just a month to the race and you are getting there in a stepwise manner. Your body is getting stronger, but it is time to evolve starting with the speed work.  Here you will have even more sessions interjected by small recovery intervals

Day

Workout Type

What to do

1

Speed work on Track

Do a 1.5-mile time trial–running at your 5k pace. Then, do the following in a series:

  • 200 meters at  10k pace
  • 200 meters at  5k pace
  • 200 meters at  Mile pace
  • 200 meters at  10k pace
  • 200 meters at  5k pace
  • 200 meters at  Mile pace
  • 10-minute recovery after about 2 miles
  • 60-seconds recovery between 200 meter intervals

2

Recovery

  • Recover with 2-3  mile Progression Run

3

Endurance

  • Do an endurance run for about 3-4 miles, which should be the longest run in the week,

4

Recovery

  • Do a few recovery miles

5

Speed (Progression)

  • A 3 mile progression run
  • Finish with your tempo pace

6

Recovery

Do a 2-3 mile recovery run

7

Recovery

You can do a recovery run or take a rest!

3 Weeks to the Race

You are almost ready to run a 5K race! In fact, you will feel fitter for the workouts you have been doing. You will even notice that the miles pass by faster than before. It is certainly the time to appreciate how far you have come!

Day

Workout Type

What to do

1

Speed work on Track

  • Run for a mile: swap between running 200 meters at Tempo pace followed by another 200 meters at Mile pace.  The, take a 4-minute recovery.
  • Split 400m, then run the first 200m at Tempo pace and the other at Mile pace. Follow this with a 2-minute recovery.

2

Recovery

  • Recover with 2-3  mile Progression Run

3

Endurance

  • Do an endurance run for about 3-4 miles, which should be the longest run in the week,

4

Recovery

  • Do a few recovery miles

5

Speed on Hill

  • Run to towards the top hill for 2 minutes-You can take 90 seconds upwards and 30 seconds downwards(repeat for about 6 times)

Give room for some recovery between intervals.

6

Recovery

Do a 2-3 mile recovery run

7

Recovery

You can do a recovery run or take a rest!

2 Weeks to the Race

It is just 2 weeks to the race and it is time to pick up and sharpen on speed and recovery. From this week, it’s more about these two workouts and this is what the training options factor in. Again, you can tweak the sequence depending on how you fancy it as long as you don’t do speed and endurance run back to back.

Day

Workout Type

What to do

1

Speed work on Track

  • (2x) 200meters at  Mile pace
  • 400 meters at  10k pace
  • (2x) 200meters at  5k pace
  • 400 meters at  10k pace
  • (2x) 200meters at  Mile pace

Allow a 60 second recovery between each of the intervals

2

Recovery

  • Recover with 2-3  mile Progression Run

.

3

Endurance

  • Do an endurance run for about 2-3 miles that should help horn your mind for the race day.
  • From here onwards, keep a close look at the average pace when running

4

Recovery

  • Do a few recovery miles

5

Speed on Track

  • 1-mile Recovery Run
  • (2x) 100-meter strides
  • 1000 meters at Tempo pace
  • (2x) 100-meter strides
  • 1 mile Recovery Run

Allow a 3-minute recovery between the intervals and about 30 seconds between strides.

6

Recovery

Do a 2-3 mile recovery run

7

Recovery

You can do a recovery run or take a rest!

1 Week to go

Your training plan is almost over, and you are almost in excellent conditions to tackle a 5K race. The last week is all about getting yourself motivated and keeping your body healthy for the race. In fact, you should be in a nice mood after going through all the tough parts of the training. Just like in the other weeks, you can make a few changes to this plan but just don’t overwork your body with back to back speed and endurance run. Once the week is over, you are now ready to do well in a 5K race.

Day

Workout Type

What to do

1

Speed work on Track

  • (2x) 200meters at  Mile pace
  • 400meters at  5k pace
  • 800meters at  10k pace
  • 400meters at  Marathon pace
  • 200meters at  Mile pace

2

Recovery

  • Recover with 2-3  mile Progression Run

3

Recovery

  • Run a few recovery miles

4

Recovery

  • Run a few recovery miles

5

Speed on Track

  • 2-mile Recovery Run
  • (8x) 100-meter strides
  • 1 mile Recovery Run

6

Recovery

Go for a light workout, nothing strenuous though

7

It’s time for the 5K race

Go and conquer take on the race!

Frequently Asked Questions: FAQs

How Many Calories Will I Burn Running a 5K?

The 5K race is more about challenging yourself and doing physical activity than losing calories. The average person will only burn between 300 and 500 calories during a 5K Race.

Can I Get Medical Attention During a 5K Race?

You can easily find a medical tent at the beginning and at the end of the race, but if you start feeling bad during the race and need some help, you can find a volunteer that’s on the track.

Can I Run Using Headphones?

We all know running without music can be kinda sad, but it is highly recommended to be aware of the surrounding sounds while you are running a crowded 5K Race. Plus, generally, they do not take responsibility for any injuries or issue if you had headphones on. However, if you want to run with your favorite songs you can do it in low volume, and remember to take these facts into consideration.

Final Remarks:

That’s it about the training plan. Once you have gone through the rigorous training regime, you are now ready to run a 5K race. It isn’t a perfect training plan, but you can always adjust it depending on your preferences and weekly schedule. The bottom line is that you are bound to get better in your next 5K race! Don’t forget to use supplements after training which will help your muscles to recover quickly. Here are the top 4 best supplements for workout recovery, if you don’t want to spend hours searching.

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