A 5K Training Plan You Can Actually Follow

training plan

There’s nothing worse than getting inspired to do a new diet or workout routine — only to find out you aren’t going to see your friends again for seven months or have to buy $1,000 worth of groceries up front.

A really fun way to get into shape — or to just remind your body that it actually does move after winter’s hibernation — is to do a 5k race! Luckily, I have an easy, realistic training plan anyone can follow. How do I know? Because I’ve done it!

Running is one of my favorite ways to workout because it’s totally free. I love running with a friend that’s just as busy as me so we can catch up on all the weekly gossip. When running solo, I listen to my favorite inspirational jams and zone out. I’ve done a bunch of 5k races (and two marathons, but that’s another story) and I still remember the very first run I went on when I started the training plan (see below). My legs were so sore after that first run, I could barely sit down! Don’t worry, the pain went away quickly and I was enjoying my runs in no time.

hal higdon 5k training planCourtesy of: Hal Higdon

The training plan I followed for my 5k is the beginner 5k plan from running guru Hal Higdon. I love Hal’s training plan because he includes plenty of rest days (it’s REALLY important to give your muscles a break when you’re training) and I like that he ramps up the mileage slowly. It’s really important to slowly increase the mileage when you’re training so you don’t burn out. Following a training plan is really important when doing your first (or second, tenth or thousandth) race, because you need to make sure you increase the mileage slowly enough — and a plan makes it easy to see what rest days you have to look forward to!

Find an area that you enjoy running in — and can easily track your mileage. I now have a Nike watch that shows me my mileage, but when I first started running, I used Walk Jog Run to create my routes (go check it out here). The first few runs you do ( all of them), feel free to walk portions of the distances. I’ve run plenty of races where I see people use the walk/run method, so don’t feel like you have to run the whole time, just finishing a race is a huge accomplishment. If running the whole time is your goal, awesome!

On days that the training plan says “rest,” make sure you actually rest. Obviously, you can walk around and have fun; you don’t have to be on bed rest… just don’t do a 20-mile bike ride. I like to go swimming, do light spinning or yoga on days that say “rest or run/walk,” because I like getting to do some other activity besides running or walking.

I love doing 5k races because they’re short and sweet! They’re long enough that I feel like I accomplished something, but short enough that I don’t have to dedicate my entire weekend to training like I do a marathon. Plus, you get an awesome finisher’s medal. What more could you want? So lace up your sneakers, grab your iPod and start running!

Have you ever done a 5k? Would you try this training plan?