I am a stay-at-home mom of 3 awesome and busy kids. There is never a dull moment around here! I stay busy, but I always build time into my busy schedule for health and fitness. If I don't take care of myself now...who will, right!?! I love writing and editing and am grateful for the opportunity to blog for Today's Mama!

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5K Training for Beginners

Spring and summer bring the season of 5Ks.  It seems like there is a 5K going on somewhere nearby almost every weekend.  I just participated in my first 5K, Color Me Rad, a couple of weeks ago.  Although this is a 5K, it is also a fun run, meant to raise money for the Utah Arts Festival Foundation.  I did not take the “race” part seriously and was actually joined by my 7 year old daughter as my running (mostly walking) partner. We had a fabulous time & I’m just proud she made it the 3.1 miles.

Anyhow, I would love to participate seriously in a 5K and decided to check into training.  Since I’m not an avid runner, per say, I really need some help to improve my running before getting serious about a 5K.  So, I went on the search for the best info I could find… and now I’m sharing it with you.

train for your first 5K

photo credited to Flickr

In a nutshell…

  • To adequately train, you will need to allow yourself 6-8 weeks before your first 5K.  Take this into consideration when choosing your race.
  • Make sure to stretch well before and after each workout and allow yourself a walking warm-up and cool-down in order to avoid injury.
  • When improving your running, don’t push too hard.  Work up to a 30 minute run by doing walk-runs as part of your routine.  Walk part of the time and run part of the time and slowly add more running and less walking into your workout until you can run a full 30 minutes.
  • Don’t run too hard.  Use the talk test to help you know if you’re running at the right pace for you.  You should be able to carry on a conversation while you’re running.  If you can’t you need to slow down your pace.  Running harder than your body is ready for sets you up for injuries as well as takes the fun out of your run. (If you aren’t having a good time, there’s a higher chance you will quit.)
  • While training, run no more than 3 days a week, cross train (yoga, bicycling, swimming, elliptical or other cardio exercise) 2 days a week and allow yourself two rest days each week.  The cross training is important for overall health as well as to challenge your muscles in ways running can’t.  With this in mind, create a schedule and try your best to stick to it.  (i.e. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday will be running days, Monday, and Friday are rest days and Wednesdays and Sundays are cross training days).  If something comes up during the week and you need to stray from your regular schedule, not a big deal.  But, if you have a schedule for yourself, your body will know what to expect and you won’t be able to talk yourself out of doing your run.

Here’s a great sample schedule I found on www.about.com

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 Rest 1 mi run CT or Rest 1 mi run Rest 1.5 mi run 20-30 min run or CT
2 Rest 1.5 mi run CT or Rest 1.5 mi run Rest 1.75 mi run 20-30 min run or CT
3 Rest 2 mi run CT or Rest 1.5 mi run Rest 2 mi run 20-30 min run or CT
4 Rest 2.25 mi run CT or Rest 1.5 mi run Rest 2.25 mi run 25-35 min run or CT
5 Rest 2.5 mi run CT or Rest 2 mi run Rest 2.5 mi run 25-35 min run or CT
6 Rest 2.75 mi run CT 2 mi run Rest 2.75 mi run 35-40 min run or CT
7 Rest 3 mi run CT 2 mi run Rest 3 mi run 35-40 min run or CT
8 Rest 3 mi run CT or Rest 2 mi run Rest Rest 5K Race!



  • Listen to your body…if your muscles are still sore after your rest day, allow yourself another day of rest to gain full recovery.  If you are paying attention, your body will guide you as to whether you should train harder or if you’re working a little too hard.  Pay close attention.
  • Don’t forget that diet is also a huge part of preparing for a 5K.  You need to make sure you’re eating right…plenty of fruits, vegetables and proteins to feed your body right.  Also make sure you are getting your 8 plus glasses of water a day.  If you’re running outdoors in the heat, you will want to try to drink twice that.  Keep your body hydrated to help avoid unnecessary fatigue.
  • Once you’ve trained for several weeks, pick a time goal.  You will probably not win a 5K your first time out.  If you do, then you are more than amazing!  But, you can decide on a time goal that is both realistic and pushes you to do your best.
  • Your training will mean so much more if you have a goal in sight.  I suggest picking a 5K you would like to participate in (remember to give yourself adequate training time) and sign yourself up.  If you have paid that participation fee, you will most-likely be more serious about training.  It’s hard to miss a workout if you know you are obligated to run.

Click here to see all the races in the state of Utah.  They are conveniently grouped by month.  You will have access to all the info you need and will be able to link to a registration site.

Once you’ve run in a few 5Ks, you might be able to take it up a notch and try a half-marathon.  First things first…get started on your training.  Push yourself.  You’ll be surprised at what you are capable of!

Best of luck!!

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