How To Train For A 5k


How To Train For A 5k

Thinking of training for a 5k? Follow our guidelines to get you to the start line fit and raring to go.

Thinking of training for a 5k? Follow our guidelines to get you to the start line fit and raring to go.

If you are training for a 5k race then read this training introduction. We'll show you how to kick-start your 5k training, provide some great 5k training tips, plus some safe training protocols.

Give yourself time to prepare for the run

Starting from scratch to completing a 5k should not be taken lightly, so preparation is key. Everyone will be at a different level of fitness, and your rate of progression for your training will vary considerably depending on your age, sex, current and previous fitness levels, and available training time. Make sure you get a 5k training plan before you begin.

Follow these guidelines for when you’re planning how far in advance you need to begin your preparations:

If you’re new to running or exercise — the longer you train the better, but a period of three months running-specific training is essential.

If you’re already running or carrying out cardiovascular exercise — less than three months preparation is needed, but the longer your lead-in period is, the fitter you can get, and the easier your race will be. So training for more than three months is a good idea if you wish to record a PB time on race day.

Before you begin running

Before you think about training, you should take a little time out to check a few safety considerations, because it is vitally important to ensure it’s safe for you to begin an exercise program. You can do this by simply completing the safety checklist below. If you answer YES to one or more questions, or if you are at all concerned about starting training, then make an appointment with your doctor for a check-up before you begin your training.

Training for a 5k event: Health status safety checklist

1. Are you aged over 30 and or or have not exercised for some time? Y N
2. Do you suffer from any medical conditions?     Y N
3. Are you a smoker or have recently given up smoking? Y N
4. Have you undergone any surgery in the past two years? Y N
5. Are you suffering from any injuries?         Y N
6. Are you currently on any prescribed medication? Y N
7. Are you unsure about beginning an exercise program? Y N

Once you have the all-clear from your doctor and or or are confident that you are sufficiently healthy, you’ll be ready to step out on the road to 5k success!

What running gear do I need for running?

Running is one of the simplest and cheapest sports and you probably already own most of the gear that you’ll need in order to start your 5k training.

Shorts, socks, t-shirts and sweatshirts are all you need to get you going. Over time you may wish to add more specialist items to your gear, but initially you can get away with the minimum amount. However, one area where you should not cut corners is when buying your running shoes. Good running shoes are a long-term investment in terms of injury prevention and running comfort, and so it is worthwhile visiting a specialist retailer so that you make the right purchase for your particular gait and training.

First steps towards running training

If you’ve never been jogging or running before, or if you haven’t done any significant exercise for a long time, then you will need to ease yourself into training. Your body takes time to adjust to the new demands that you will be placing upon it, so start slowly and allow plenty of time for rest and for your body to adapt. Your target is to build up your fitness so that eventually you can comfortably run non-stop at least 80 per cent of the race distance (4km or 2.5 miles) in training.

Moving up your running

If you’re already doing some regular aerobic exercise (including brisk walking, jogging, running, swimming, rowing, cycling, participating in aerobic exercise classes and using cardiovascular exercise machines at the gym), then you are likely to be relatively fit already and will progress faster. Ensure that you factor in rest days and build up carefully. Eventually covering 80 per cent of the race distance non-stop in training should be your minimum target, but if you can run further than this in training, you will be better prepared and more likely to run a PB on race day.

Eating and drinking while race training

Fuelling your running and keeping correctly hydrated is as important as the training itself, so don’t neglect this area. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your fluid levels topped up, and make sure you carry a lightweight drinks bottle when running, particularly on hot days. For your nutrition, focus on slow release energy foods such as pasta and rice, which will ensure you don’t run out of gas halfway through a training run.

5k success is just around the corner…

Preparing, training for and completing a 5k event is a great accomplishment, and is a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience. And as well as achieving your goal, there is a great spin-off benefit too: improved health and fitness. So, why not start training for a 5k today?