Ready to tackle your first 5k? Or get a faster 5k time? I am pumped to help you train for a 5k.
Here I cover how to train for a 5k and share my free 8-Week 5k Training Plan for Beginners (aka Couch to 5k) & Intermediate Runners.
Running a 5k is a great goal! And it can serve as a springboard into a lifelong healthy habit of running (and setting goals to get fitter and faster).
Below you can get a free Couch to 5k training plan (aka a beginner 5k training plan) and an intermediate 5k training plan. (If you want a more advanced 5k plan, I recommend checking out my customized run coaching services.)
In this article, I’m going to go over everything you need to know about how to run a 5k including:
- How long is a 5k
- How long does it take to train for a 5k
- How long does it take to run a 5k
- How much do you need a week to run to run a 5k
- Should you run a 5k before your 5k race
- How many days a week should you run to train for a 5k
- Can you walk during a 5k
- A sample 5k training plan week
- And, top couch to 5k tips
So, let’s get started!
How long is a 5k?
A 5k is 3.1 miles, or 12.5 laps on the track.
How long does it take to train for a 5k?
It takes about 8-weeks to train for a 5k.
Here you will download an 8-week 5k training plan for beginners (Couch to 5k) and intermediate runners. While the training period is the same, the intensity and volume for the intermediate runners is higher.
The intermediate 5k runners will run more and run faster.
The beginner 5k runners will focus on being able to finish the 5k distance.
How long does it take to run a 5k?
The average 5k time for a beginner female runner is 35-45 minutes (about 12 to 15-minute mile). The average 5k time for a beginner male runner is 30-40 minutes (about 10 to 13-minute mile).
A good time for 5k is under 20 minutes. This is the time that wins races and age groups in 5ks.
How much do you need to run a week to run a 5k?
You need to run at least 10 miles a week to run a 5k. This weekly mileage will ensure you can get to the 5k finish line and be able to complete your training without injury.
Should I run a 5k before my 5k race?
You don’t have to run a 5k before your 5k race, but you probably should. At bare minimum, you should run 10 miles a week spread over 3 to 4 runs.
In this case, you will need to run 3 miles during these runs to prepare the musculoskeletal system for the impact of running and the cardiovascular system for the duration of running a 5k.
How many days a week should I run to train for a 5k?
You should run at least 3 days a week to train for a 5k. Running four days a week is even better for training for a 5k.
The more running sessions you have in a week, the more training stimulus you place on the body to spur key physiological adaptations such as an increase in mitochondria and capillary density, and strengthened bones, tendons, muscles, and joints, to name a few.
Related: How Many Miles Should You Run in a Day?
Can you walk during a 5k?
Yes, you can walk during a 5k. In fact, beginner runners should absolutely walk in their training for a 5k. Alternating run and walk intervals lessens the impact on your body, preventing injuries, while still improving your endurance.
Begin with run/walk intervals such as running 3 minutes running and walking 2 minutes until you complete the appointed time or distance in your 5k training plan. After two sessions of the same intervals, lengthen the time you run by a minute or two, etc., and shorten the time you walk.
Related: 9 Running Hacks that Will Make You Run Faster
Sample Week for the Intermediate 5k Training Plan
Here is a sample week from week 6 of the 5k training plan for intermediate runners. The couch to 5k training plan is different in that it does not include speed and has less mileage.
- Monday: 3 miles easy, 4 strides
- Tuesday: 1-mile warm-up, 3 by 1 mile at goal race pace, 1-mile cool-down. Strength training day.
- Wednesday: 3 miles easy, 4 strides
- Thursday: 1-mile warm-up, 4 by 800 meters, 1-mile cool-down. Strength training day.
- Friday: Rest or XT
- Saturday: 6 miles easy long run
- Sunday: REST
Related: Your Strength Training for Runners Guide
Top 6 5k Training Tips
Here are some training tips to help you successfully run your 5k!
Listen to your body.
The plan is written in pencil. Move run days and take extra rest days as needed. Do not ignore when your body is telling you it needs more recovery.
If training feels like it’s too much, you can repeat a week or even take a break. Don’t force racing if your body isn’t ready. Instead, pick a different race at a more appropriate time.
The most CRITICAL thing with running is being consistent. That is when your body starts to make changes that make you an efficient machine. If you don’t have time for the full workout, do the best you can.
Something is always better than nothing when it comes to running!!
Go at your own pace.
Don’t progress your workouts or your pace before you are ready. If you are feeling lethargic or achy or have a little nagging pain, take extra time to rest and then scale back for a week or two. Also, do not ever compare yourself to other runners.
Everyone progresses at their own pace. Stay in your lane and you will be a healthy and happy runner for the rest of your life!
Most of the runs in the 5k training plans are easy. So, be sure to run at a conversational pace where you feel like you could keep going when your run is done. You should never feel totally gassed at the end of these workouts. Keep going to the well for race day.
Warm-up and cool-down.
Always be sure to do your dynamic stretching and mobility exercises with light jogging prior to runs, and especially workouts. Cool down with easy running and then do static stretching and foam rolling. Your body will thank you and you will stave off injuries.
Remember, running is supposed to be fun! So run with friends. Run to music. Enjoy the process of getting fit and remember that running is a gift!
Related: The Benefits of an Easy Running Pace
Download my free 8-week 5k Training Plans!
Beginner 8-week 5k Training Plan
This Beginner 5k plan prepares you to run a 5k in just 8 weeks! It builds in strength training and cross-training days to prevent injuries and make you stronger. It’s also flexible to fit your crazy mother runner schedule and comes with my personal support and contact.
This Beginner 5k plan serves as a wonderful starting block for future running goals and success. It was developed by me with input from coaches and elite runners.
Intermediate 8-week 5k Training Plan
You’ve got a taste for racing and now you’re ready to get faster and chase those PRs! This Intermediate 5k training plan is for you! It takes your running to the next level by gradually increasing the intensity.
You’ll improve your endurance by running more miles each week and improve your speed by running faster paces.
This 8-week plan, developed by me with input from coaches and elite runners, also comes with training tips and encouragement to contact me with any questions.