Few workouts are as accessible as running, which doesn’t require any costly equipment or bulky machines — just a throw on a pair of running shoes, load up a pump-up playlist, and get moving. If you’re an aspiring runner but a true novice, following a specific routine — such as this 5K training plan — can help you work up your strength and endurance.
This plan was designed specifically as an accessible beginner’s guide to running by Jason Fitzgerald, USA Track & Field certified coach and founder of Strength Running. BTW, a 5K is 3.1 miles, and it might sound scary right now, but it’s totally doable if you follow this guide. It’s the perfect 5K training plan for your first big run or to get you started on the road to regular running — and you can complete it in just six weeks.
If you’re interested in the whole “no-equipment needed, open-road, runner’s high” thing, here’s where to start. The best news? No prior running experience is necessary for this 5K training plan. If you can walk, you can finish this program. (You could even go from the couch to a half marathon if you wanted!)
The Ultimate 5K Training Plan For Beginners
Run: Three days a week, you’ll do a run-walk combo (details in the plan below), alternating between running and walking segments to build up your endurance. If you have a watch with a timer or stopwatch function, use it to mark your intervals. Don’t worry about speed — that will come with more time on your feet. Aim for a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) that feels like a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10 so you don’t burn out too soon.
Strength train: You’ll strength train two days a week during this 5K training plan, and these workouts will help keep you injury-free. This simple core routine is recommended by Fitzgerald. In it, you’ll complete 3 sets of the moves below, doing each exercise for 45 seconds to 1 minute and transitioning between movements without any rest. Recover for 1 to 2 minutes between each set. The whole workout takes about 20 minutes.
Rest: During this 5K training plan, you'll also take two days completely off each week to give your body time to rest and recover for your next workouts.
Do strides: Finally, you’ll learn to perform “strides” — short bursts of speed from jogging to sprinting to jogging again, all in the course of 20 to 30 seconds. Do these once per week, after your mid-week base run. When doing your weekly strides, walk or rest for 45 to 90 seconds between each one.
“Always remember to stay relaxed during a stride — at no point should you be straining or racing,” says Fitzgerald. Strides will help loosen up your legs, get you ready for faster workouts, and reinforce good form. Ready to take it to the next level? Try these other interval running workouts.
Tips for Following the 5K Training Plan