- Beginners should spend 2-3 months training for a 5k while experienced runners can prepare in 2-3 weeks.
- Optimal training plans include a combination of endurance runs and intervals.
- It’s also important to strike a healthy balance between running and resting to recover well.
Are you training for a 5K but running out of time? The main thing is, do not rush.
It is estimated that 50% of runners are injured each year. And running a race you’re not ready for could make you one of them.
Here’s how long you should train for a 5K based on your fitness level and tips on how to focus your training.
How long should you train for a 5k
New runners should spend two to three months training for a 5K to properly build their endurance and understand their body’s needs.
Experienced runners, meanwhile, can prepare in a few weeks of “focused training,” says Cat Kom, ACE-certified personal trainer and founder of Studio SWEAT onDemand.
“As with any sporting activity, the more you train [you do]the healthier and safer you will be,” says Kom. “Don’t rush if you don’t have to.
If you have little time to train, you’ll want to do it as efficiently as possible. I spoke to two athletic trainers for their top tips on how to train quickly and safely for a 5k.
1. Get a running assessment first
Before beginning a training program, Kenny Ferrer, CPT and lead trainer for FitOn, recommends getting a running assessment — aka a gait assessment — at a running store in Montreal. local foot.
“Your gait refers to the way your body moves [while] walking, jogging and running,” Ferrer told Insider. “This information allows you to experiment with the appropriate running shoes to support your individual form.”
Knowing how you move and having shoes that give you the support your body needs can help prevent injuries, such as shin splints, hamstrings, or knee injuries, and improve your performance. race.
2. Find a balance between running and resting
Your current fitness level impacts how much time you need to prepare for a 5K, how much rest time you’ll need, and what you’ll be capable of during the workout.
A key component of your fitness level is your aerobic capacity, which refers to how well your lungs work when doing cardiovascular activity like running.
Ferrer says that to build your aerobic capacity, you first have to find the right balance between running and resting.
The amount of rest you need varies, but running three days a week while resting for four is a good balance for most. Alternate work and rest days to give your muscles time to recover.
3. Do interval runs
You can further improve your aerobic capacity by doing interval runs, alternating between running at full speed and walking or jogging at a more relaxed pace.
It also helps improve your efficiency, speed and endurance, as the higher intensity of training pushes your body differently than something like a slower endurance run. Benefits include higher calorie burn (during and after exercise), better running performance, and better cardio fitness.
“Interval training is the combination of high-intensity sprints typically done for a shorter period of time with recovery periods between sprints,” says Kom. “For example, do a 45 second sprint with a 1:30 recovery done 10 times in a row.”
4. Add Endurance Races
Endurance runs focus on consistency rather than intensity – instead of alternating between sprints and running, you maintain a low to moderate pace and try to run longer.
Kom suggests implementing a mix of interval and endurance runs throughout your workout. She adds that new runners should focus on running no more than 3.1 miles (i.e. 5km) during training to avoid overdoing it.
If you’re experiencing any of the following warning signs, you may be overdoing it:
- Persistent fatigue, lethargy, and/or muscle weakness that lasts longer than one day of recovery
- Degraded performance (i.e. it takes you longer to cover the same distances)
- Decreased appetite
- Sleeping troubles
- The Depression
- Loss of general motivation
Listen to your body, rest when you need it, and don’t push yourself beyond your capacity; you won’t get very far with injured or exhausted muscles.
The Importance of a 5k Workout Plan
Using a training plan — especially one personalized by a trainer or race coach — strikes a balance between challenge and realism.
With a good plan, you can learn to pace yourself so you don’t run too fast on race day from nerves or excitement and burn out before the finish line. It also helps you stay motivated throughout the training process.
Here is an example of a beginner training plan designed by Cat Kom:
Should you run on a treadmill or outside?
Ferrer and Kom recommend running outdoors as much as possible.
If you’re used to running in an air-conditioned gym, the scorching sun or cold wind might put you off on race day. Practicing in a variety of real-world conditions helps you learn to manage your breath and pace when the weather throws a curveball at you.
Running on a treadmill also doesn’t work your body like running outdoors.
“When you run outside, you use your body to propel yourself forward, starting from the ground below you,” adds Ferrer. “Running on a treadmill requires keeping pace with a moving belt that creates subtle changes in your [running style] and overall efficiency.”
Both experts add that treadmills aren’t entirely useless. Kom recommends keeping routines fresh by doing interval training on a treadmill.
How to Stay Motivated
It’s natural to have days when you’re not motivated to run. Ferrer recommends creating an “attitude of disciplined commitment” to training to overcome this.
“Saying ‘I’ll train no matter what’ and sticking to it is transformative,” he says. “It takes away a lot of the drama that comes from fighting.”
Having a purpose behind your lens can also be helpful. Whether it’s boosting your self-esteem, pumping mood-boosting endorphins, improving your cardiovascular health, or just proving to yourself that you can do it, it can push you beyond mental walls. .
Kom suggests writing a mantra about why you run and posting it somewhere you’ll see every day.
Proper training is crucial to avoiding injury and ensuring your best performance for a 5K run.
It’s also important not to rush your training. With a focused plan, beginners can prepare for a 5k in six to 12 weeks.
If you’re a seasoned runner, you might be able to train enough in just two to three weeks.
Remember to listen to your body, rest properly, and develop a disciplined commitment to why you’re training for a race.