Four Steps To Build a 5k Training Plan for Beginners

Four Steps To Build A 5k Training Plan for Beginners

1. One long-ish run a week to build aerobic capacity and endurance.

2. Two shorter days with some interval work to build speed and fitness.

3. Keep social or gym fitness classes that you enjoy.

4. Add strength training and yoga to your weekly schedule. 

A 5k Training Plan for Beginners

My wife successfully used a 5k training plan for beginners to finish her first race.

We started with her current fitness level.

As a self-described non-athlete, she’s been running more at the gym and outside just to gain fitness.

She usually goes to one or two fitness classes at the Wisconsin Athletic Club, and she’s been putting in two to three miles about twice a week for the last three months.

So she has a decent base of fitness, and since the 5k is going to be a fun adventure for her, we’re not going to run every day!

She wanted to finish the race and not die out on the roads!

Strides start to stress her VO2max system and begin to develop her ability to run faster.

These strides were the basis for more interval work, including fartleks (longer strides), and shorter, harder intervals.

For example, she might run at a track and do 400s (one lap) as fast as she can consistently run the lap.



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Go Long, Go Short, Strength Train

Here are the four steps we used to build her training plan to complete her first 5k:

1. 5k Training Plan for Beginning Runners: Long Run

One day a week, Kate did a longer run at a slow pace.

Each week, we’ll increase the distance and/or time.

The goal would be to get up to four miles at a very comfortable pace.

This run is to build her endurance fitness level so the race distance feels relatively easy.

She’s building her aerobic capacity in doing the longer, slow runs.

2. Easy 5k Training Plan for Beginners: Speed Work

One or two days a week, we scheduled a moderate two to three-mile run/walk.

She did some “strides,” or increase her pace for a block or so.

3. Keep Up the Social Classes

She continued with the one-day-a-week fitness class.

She likes these classes and enjoys the social time.

Keep doing work like this!

4. Strength Training and Yoga

She added at least one day of strength training with a focus on large muscle groups.

Plus she should add at least one yoga day, either as recovery (yin yoga) or as a strength day (flow, hatha).

For example, she could do some kettlebell swings, dumbbell clean and press, rotations, and core work using a TRX and exercise ball.

This day is to build general full-body strength to support the running miles, which can be tough on the body.

Again, the focus is not aerobic work but strength.

Keep 5k Training Plan for Beginners Simple

You’re doing the 5k for fun and/or fitness. 

You don’t need to run every day!

You can do one long-ish run and two shorter runs a week and finish a 5k comfortably. 

The key is to add yoga and strength work into the routine to build additional fitness and keep you healthy. 

So your schedule might be:

  • Monday – off
  • Tuesday – strength work
  • Wednesday – short running day with strides/intervals
  • Thursday – strength work
  • Friday – yoga
  • Saturday – short running day with strides/ intervals
  • Sunday – long-ish run.

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