Running Plan: How(and why) to Train for a 5K

4116624480_5a71961e50_zSo you’ve decided to run a 5K, or your friend has talked you into signing up for one: that’s great! Congratulations! Whether this is your first run or your 10th– 5K runs are a great motivator to get into (and stay) in shape. Here are some of our best tips for making your run a great experience.

One of the mistakes that a lot of people make is to think: “it’s only three miles, that’s not that far.” But, whether you are starting “from the couch” or from “decent” shape, we encourage you to prepare and train for your event. One of the most important reasons to train is to get your joints used to the impact of running. When your joints aren’t used to the impact, of even three miles, you are much more prone to injury.

The first thing you need to do when prepping for your run is to get a good pair of shoes. Running shoes only last for a couple hundred miles (depending on the shoe), and that pair of cross trainers you use to walk the dog aren’t going to cut it. We talked about running shoes last winter, but we’ll reiterate- the job of your running shoe is to cushion your joints from impact. A good pair of shoes are a whole lot cheaper than an injury.

Second: Pay attention to your core. Running uses quite a bit of core strength and helps you maintain good posture while running. One way to set yourself up for success is to work on strengthening your core muscles- in addition to your distance training. (We’ll talk more about core strengthening exercises in a few weeks).

Third thing to do when prepping for a run is to get moving.

If you’re starting from a fairly inactive point or “from the couch” begin here:

Week one: just start walking. The goal should be to walk one mile, three different days. Ideally you should leave a rest day in between- for example: walking Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Don’t worry too much about pace, just focus on getting the distance down.

Week two: Up your distance to a mile and a half, 3 days a week

Week three: Walk two miles, 3 days a week

Week four: Walk 2.5 miles, 3 days a week

Week five: Walk three miles, 3 days a week

Now you’re ready to start running!

If you’re starting from a fairly active point- you can already walk three miles no problem- then begin here:

Always start with a five minute warm-up of just walking. This can be hard to do when you’re itching to start running, but it’s really important!

Week one (or week 6 if you started from “the couch”): Start with 30 minutes, broken into 5 minute increments. Once you’ve completed your warm-up: run for one whole minute, then walk for four minutes. Repeat six times to fill your 30 minutes.  Then walk for an additional five minutes to cool down. Do this three times a week.

Remember to stretch after each run. Key areas to stretch after a run are hamstrings, calf stretches, and hip flexor stretches. Your body will thank you for this! Also remember to drink plenty of water, especially if running in the heat. Your body needs water to recover after a run!

Here’s where we stop using weeks as titles, because you may need to stay at one level for more than a week as your body adjusts to the pace and impact of running. YOU decide if it’s time to move to the next level. If the run for one minute: walk for four routine seems too easy after several days of completing the entire workout, then feel free to move to the next level, but if you are consistently out of breath, in pain, and/or feeling wiped out after your 1:4 routine- stay there until it feels “Ok.”

Level two: Same routine: warm-up/walk for five minutes. Now run for two minutes, walk for three minutes, six times to fill your 30 minutes. Walk/ cool-down for five minutes. Do this three times a week until it feels ok.

Level three: Same basic structure: warm-up for five, then 30 minutes of run/walk. Run for three minutes: walk for two minutes, six times. Cool-down for five minutes. Repeat three times a week until you feel ready to move up.

Level four: five minute warm-up, 30 minutes, five minute cool-down. This time you should be running for four minutes, walking for one, three times a week. Stay here until you feel ok with it.

Level five: You did it! Warm up for five minutes, run for 30, cool-down for five minutes. Be sure to stretch afterwards! Stay here, adding distance as you’d like, until race day.

For more “race day” tips, read our post from last winter’s Cable Bridge Run.

Happy Running! Be sure to let us know if you need any help along the way, our trainers are always available to help you develop a personal running/training plan.

We wish you good health,

Columbia Basin Racquet Club


Photo Credit: Jarkko Laine Via Flickr


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