There are three parts of running a 5k: Falling in love and deciding that you want to run the race, the race itself when you are ready, and of course, in between, the most interesting, challenging, and fun part- the training for a 5k.
So you are on the very start of your training. Perfect, because by the time you finish reading this article, you will know when and how to train for a 5k in order to get the best of you on the race day.
First thing first, we will start by constructing a 5k training schedule. And by reading that you will understand why you should train some, rest other days and what kind of activities should be done on days not scheduled for running.
Choose the full rest day
First of all you must decide when the full rest day will be. Because things shape from there on in a way.
For example, if I choose Sunday to be my full rest day – a day with no physical activity whatsoever, giving the muscles a chance to recover from the week before, then the 5k training schedule starts to shape up from there.
Shape up the 5k training schedule
So, if you choose Sunday for a full rest day, then Monday is your starting point and a first day of the week for running.
Take Tuesday off. Wednesday and Thursday will be again scheduled for a run, and then you take again a day off on Friday, just to make your best and longest run on Saturday. On Sunday, you rest. Repeat the week.
This is just a rough picture of how to train for a 5k, or how to schedule your runs. What is more important is to know the intensity as well as the timing of your runs, and of course what to do on those days not scheduled for running.
First of all, you must realize that besides running you must also do some other type of exercises in order to get the most out of your 5k training plan.
When I said off days, meaning you will not run, have in mind that these days will be scheduled for some other type of activity.
That way you’re assured that you will be in the best shape, and that you will keep your muscles and in fact your whole body active so you can avoid injuries and fatigue.
So, you can’t run, then what should you do ? Well, It’s up to you, really. Go for a walk, ride a bicycle or go for a swim.
Swimming acts like the best cardio exercise ever, it also increases lung capacity more than anything else, gives your whole body a great workout, and anabolic reaction.
Exercising your legs can also ensure you that you are closer to great results. The gym is not the only option, you can also do some squats and steps in the comfort of your own home. This will increase your speed as well as muscle endurance.
But you should try to diversify as much as you can, both in favor of not getting bored from the same type of exercise, AND not overusing the same muscles over and over again.
The purpose of this little exercises is to keep you in the best cardio shape possible, keep you muscles active and even increase your lung capacity – something that will help you a lot in your training for a 5k. For the ones that feel like doing a lot more, you can try the new p90 workout from Tony Horton.
Remember though that the one day scheduled for full rest (Sunday in our example) must be all about rest. Meaning you will not do any type of physical activity.
Often times you will feel like you have tons of energy and will want to run or do something, but remember that even though you can, it doesn’t mean that you should.
As you see training for a 5k is not just a random thing, there is some complexity behind it.
And this goes only to the extent of training schedule. What you should do on running days is another thing.
Various training methods
Just a couple of things you should try, and judge for yourself which one of them suits you best. You can’t possibly be wrong, no matter what you chose.
- Running the full distance. When you feel ready, try to run the full distance, rest for a day, and then go the same distance, but try to improve the time. This will prepare you in terms of endurance, speed, keeping up the same pace. All of which are very important.
- Combine it with walking. Another approach you can try is running for a mile, then walk for a minute, then repeat the whole process again for couple of times. In the end just try a minute of running as fast as you can. This will improve your cardio capacity, lung capacity, give you the control of your speed and you will train to breath properly.
- Schedule a sprint day.Another thing you can do is scheduling a day just for your sprints. Meaning a day in the running schedule just for training sprint. The best way to do this is to measure a hundred meters and set some signs. Then you are focusing on improving your time as you run over and over the same distance.If you want more speed and increased lung capacity, the sprint can be a cardio exercise that will give you a hell of a cardio session, and give the muscles a blast. Try running the distance, and then go for one minute rest. Repeat the whole thing for at least ten times, and you will have a picture where you stand.
Remember though, each time go for faster, and push yourself as much as you can. Warning about this one- training like this may get you injured more than any other way, so be sure that you are prepared for it.
- Infinite fun combinations. You can also combine these approaches and form your own 5k training schedule. You see, training for a 5k can be very fun, and challenging as I said. You can try new things, see what works for you, and what doesn’t, what you prefer and what you hate. There just isn’t a perfect training plan. Wary of anyone who says otherwise.
This 5k training schedule should start at least one month before the race is scheduled, and should not go more than a month and a half. The optimal preparation should be somewhere just over a month.
Also remember to check out some 5k running tips you may find helpful, especially if you’re a beginner. You may also want to learn about the possible injuries and how to prevent them, while training for the race.
Implement these training approaches, and form your own 5k training schedule. If you follow the advice in the other posts as well, you will enjoy the program and maybe even start to convince others that training for a 5k is one of the best things ever. Hopefully, you will see some great results too.
Have fun, enjoy the whole preparation, and best of luck for the race.
Read the other parts of the Beginner’s 5k Running Plan series:
- Running a 5k: Why Should You Even Consider it?
- 5k Running Tips For Beginners
- 5k Running Injuries And Prevention