From the couch to a 5K

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First of all: I'm glad that you're doing it. Wow. You decided to achieve your first goal as a runner. You signed up for your first 5K race, or you just want to reach your first distance goal. Goals are always great to make you stick to your running training.


First off, you may be asking, "exactly how many miles is a 5K?" A 5K run is 3.1 miles total. It's a good distance to start with - especially for beginners.


It is super important not to start off too fast in training. Sprinting out of the gage with all of your motivation will lead to injury and frustration. You may want to read my beginners tips before you head out the door and start with your 5K training plan.

Realistic goal for first 5K

My 5K training plan for absolute running beginners will take you 6 weeks. Now you're wondering if you really need so much time? Yes you do! I always recommend to start with focusing on the time of your runs first not on the milage.


Try to end up with a weekly milage of 9-13 miles as a beginner if you stick to my 5K training plan. Your "long runs" should be 3 miles - 4.5 miles long.


Always be sure your pace is in a range where you're still able to communicate. If you're running out of breath you're going too fast. A realistic goal for a first 5K for a complete running beginner is everything between 28 minutes and 40 minutes.

If you're faster: Awesome! If you're slower: Amazing.

It's you first race.

Enjoy the journey!

Beginners 5K training plan

✔ Week 1 of your training should be based on 3 sessions that should take about 20 or 30 minutes. You may walk most of the times, that's fine. Be sure to space out these three days throughout the week to give yourself a chance to rest and recover between efforts. And don't worry about how fast you're going. Running faster can wait until your bones are stronger and your body is fitter. For now focus on gradually increasing the time or distance you run.


✔ Week 2 will be the same just that you hopefully try to run more than you walk. By the end of week 2 you will be able to run 3.5 miles without stopping. Yes you can do it!


✔ Week 3:Same as week 1 and 2. Run or walk for a specified period of time. Have your long run (3.5 miles again) where you want to track your time on Sunday.


✔ Week 4 should be a little bit more challenging since you're now one month into training. You want to have 4 sessions now. 3 x 30 minutes long very slow jogging and your long run with 4 miles on Sunday where you track your time again.


✔ Week 5 is the time where you want to pick up your pace. Keep up running / jogging 4 times per week and increase the time of your runs now. You want to end up with 40 minutes total per run now. On Sunday you will be ready for your first 4.5 miles run. Keep it up - you can do this!


✔ Week 6 Amazing you're almost there. It's race week! You want to run 3 times this week and have a full day of recovery before your race day. Nevertheless: trust your training! That's my personal running mantra. It helps.

Why you can trust Sabrina Wieser
Runningbrina is committed to bringing you unbiased ratings and information. Her editorial content is not influenced by advertisers. Sabrina uses data-driven methodologies to evaluate all products, so all brands are measured equally.
  • Most featured running blog, past 6 years
  • USATF certified running coach
  • Experienced endurance athlete
  • 7 marathons

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