TRAINING FOR A 5K RACE
Training for a 5k race should be rewarding and fun.
The key is to let your body adapt to running over time and don’t make the mistake of trying to do too much too soon.
NEW RUNNERS SHOULD TAKE IT SLOW AND EASY
Before training for a 5k race most race most people have most likely done some jogging just to stay in shape. Once they discover that running suits them they decide to take it to the next level and enter an actual race.
Even though it’s just a 5km race and it’s a distance they are sure they can handle they may have no idea how to go about preparing for the big day.
The key to proper preparation for training for a 5k race is to take it slow and easy. Three months is about the perfect amount of time to train for a 5k and be properly prepared for race day.
By trying to do too much too soon, there is a risk of injury which quickly discourages some people from taking up a sport they could well come to love.
Of course quite a lot will depend on just how much running mileage a person has actually been putting in.
Some people have many years of running for fun and fitness in their background but have never actually entered a structured, organized running event that has a set distance.
Let’s assume that a little running has been done that might include some easy runs of maybe 10 or 15 minutes a few times a week.
START WITH THREE RUNS PER WEEK
For the first 4 weeks of actual training, 3 runs per week should be sufficient. The idea is to have a rest day in between run days.
This is especially important in the early training weeks. For example: Run Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and rest Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.
It’s far easier to keep track of the time spent running rather than the actual distance of the run. So Tuesday would be a 15 minute run, Thursday a 20 minute run, and Saturday a 30 minute run.
TAKE REST DAYS AFTER YOUR LONGEST RUNS
The second month of training for a 5k race will begin to get a bit more serious and should see an increase from 3 days of running to 4 and a bit more time added on to the runs.
For example, run 20 minutes Tuesday, 25 minutes Thursday, 30 minutes Friday, and 35 minutes on Saturday with Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday as rest days.
*Note that it’s wise to always take a rest day “after” the longest run. Regardless of the distance of the race one is preparing for as recovery time is vital.
In this example Saturday is the longest run day and Sunday is a rest day. This is a good strategy to follow whether you are training for a 5k or a marathon.
WHEN TO INCREASE TRAINING TIME
The two biggest weeks of training of the 12 weeks will be weeks 9 and 10. For those two weeks only, it would be best to train for 5 days and rest for 2.
So these two training weeks might include a 20 minute run Monday, 25 minute run Tuesday, 30 minute run on Thursday, 20 minute run on Friday and a longer 40 minute run on Saturday with rest days on Wednesday and Sunday.
Note a few things here. You have a rest day in the middle of your training week. This is your mid-week recovery day. Also, you have a short run the day before your longest effort of the week.
You have a rest day “after” your long Saturday run. The long run on Saturday is the run that will prepare you for the amount of time you will most likely be running on race day. Your goal as you train for your 5k is to gradually reach the point where you will be more than ready for the challenge.
ALWAYS REMEMBER THE IMPORTANCE OF REST
With two weeks remaining in your training for a 5k race, it’s important to concentrate on being sufficiently rested. There is no advantage to running long distances in those last two weeks.
Training too much in the final two weeks can easily leave you with insufficient rest to perform at your best on race day.
In week 11 and 12 take 3 full rest days and decrease the distances on the 4 training days. At this point, no runs over 20 minutes are necessary.
In the final week of training 4 days of easy running spread through-out the week is sufficient. If the race is on Sunday, be sure to take Friday as a rest day and run a very short distance on Saturday, the day before the race.
Most people make the mistake of resting on the Saturday, but actually it’s best to do a short, easy run the day before the race in order to ease the nerves and prepare the body for the next day.
The smart runner will design a careful training program that will work best for the distances that are being run in the actual event.
By being properly prepared both mentally and physically for the challenge, the experience of running in a 5k race for the first time has a great chance of being a big success if training for your 5k run is done gradually and with a plan in place so the experience will be enjoyable and not stressful to the body.