How to run 5k

Two sportswomen stretching body before running in a stadium

Grabbing your running shoes, finishing your training plan, and getting ready for race day – let’s learn the best ways to run a 5k, together.

Some of us may hear the words, ‘training schedule’ and be put off. I don’t blame you, it’s suspiciously similar to hearing the word ‘homework.’ The difference is, however, that a training schedule is for you, by you, and impacts your life… far more than writing out the mathematic ‘pi’ off by heart.

Besides, running a 5k doesn’t always need a training plan in the first place, but just like using a diary, calendar, or journal, it’s a massive help in giving you the framework to progress, stay organised and stick to the path.

So what exactly goes in a training schedule, and what do I really need to do a 5K?

Right on schedule

Whether it’s a half marathon, cross-training, strength training, or mile pace… what you run for and how you get there are both important. Because we’re running a 5k I’ll detail exactly what’s been known to help – without going into unnecessary detail.

Cross training

Cross-training on certain days is endlessly helpful. It allows you to build strength, running economy, muscle power, and endurance and build improvements in areas that aren’t necessarily (but still aid) cardiovascular workouts. Activities like yoga and weight lifting are great, but cycling and skipping are still classed as cross-training. Do this a maximum of 2x a week…it may not be running, it’s cross-training, but it’s still aiding in your overall progression.


The best running shoes are important, but only if you use them right. In a runner’s world, intervals are short bursts of running stints and perfect for putting your ‘runners’ to the test. Activities like sprinting short distances, or hill intervals, are great for building up speed and endurance for beginner runners. In other words, training in this regard helps you to build up race pace, increasing your long(er) distance running efficiency. I’d recommend using this 1x a week.

Rest days

We all like to relax, but rest days are more than just chilling out. Your running journey will require rest days, and your 5k schedule is no different. You’ll need to be prepared to let your muscles recover, give your entire body a break, and give yourself a healthy start to the next training cycle. Rest days can be great for your mental game too, so don’t underestimate them. Many a 5k training plan will feature a rest day, and you’ll need one as an absolute minimum.

Setting an example

See what Very Well Fit has deemed as a great running training schedule. This is just over a two-week period, the rest of the schedule expands on these but notice the slight increase in certain areas, and periodically upgrade yours as the weeks progress.

Week 1

1: Run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat 3 times.
2: Rest or cross-train.
3:Run 6 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat 3 times.
4: Rest.
5:Run 7 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat 3 times.
6: Rest or cross-train.

Week 2

1:Run 7 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat 3 times.
: Rest or cross-train.
:Run 8 minutes, walk 1 minute. Then, run hard for 1 minute, walk for 2 minutes; repeat 3 times. Finish with a 7-minute run and a 1-minute walk.
: Rest.
5:Run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat 3 times.
6:Rest or cross-train.


Start today and improve next week. Think of your goals and work steadily towards them. Free training plans are great, but yours may need to be tailored. Start slowly and think of the finish line, all of these points are important. Essentially? Do the research and feel the benefits.


Is couch to 5k a good plan?

Couch to 5k blew up in lockdown, and for good reason – get yourself on it.

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