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Get on Track With a Couch-to-5K Training Plan

By AMANDA RUSSELL

Whether you're new to exercise or a veteran "gym rat," training for and finishing a 5K (a race of 5 kilometers, or 3.1 miles) is an amazing -- and achievable -- fitness goal for many reasons.

Training isn't time consuming and can get you in the best shape of your life -- all you need is a pair of sneakers! It's also an exercise challenge that's convenient, affordable, portable, fun and, best of all, gives you the chance to meet a whole community of wonderful people.

Marathon athletes running

So, whether you're a beginner or a veteran marathoner, a 5K is an excellent way to get moving and ready to race in a short amount of time.

Below is a five-week program I designed to get you prepared and excited come race day. I can testify that there are few better feelings than crossing that finish line for the first time. You'll learn so much about yourself on so many levels from this experience -- a 5K can truly change your life!

But before you start running, you need to complete two very important steps:

1. Sign Up Now
Nothing lights a fire in the belly like making an exercise goal official. Sign up for a 5K race, then tell everyone you know about your goal. Now you have an established (and public) deadline.

2. Create Your Plan
With any race, training is more than simply running: You need a plan. If running the entire times/distances of the workouts listed below is too difficult, you might want to begin with a walking program.

But if this plan seems too easy, sign up for my newsletter to access my intermediate and advanced plans. Be careful not to overdo it, particularly if this is your first time training for a 5K.

Done? Now here's the roadmap to get you from the couch to the finish line.

5-Week Beginner 5K Training Plan:

WEEK 1
Monday: 
Walk briskly for one mile. Run two minutes every half mile until you reach 3.5 total miles. Walk 0.5 mile.

OR Walk briskly for 15 minutes. Run two minutes and walk two minutes for a total of 30 minutes. Walk five to 10 minutes.

Tuesday: Walk three to five miles and do a core routine for 10 minutes or less. Here is a whole playlist of core routines to choose from. OR Walk for 50 to 65 minutes.

Wednesday: Rest day or active stretching/yoga (optional)

Thursday: Walk one mile. Run three minutes every half mile until you reach 3.5 miles. Walk 0.5 mile.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: Walk three to five miles, including 10 run-walk intervals (run 30 seconds, walk one minute) in the last mile.

Sunday: Rest day.

WEEK 2
Monday:
Walk 1.5 miles. Run five minutes, walk five minutes; do three times.

Tuesday: Walk three to five miles and do core routine.

Wednesday: Rest day.

Thursday: Walk one mile. Run four minutes every half mile until you reach 3.5 miles. Walk 0.5 mile.

Friday: Rest day or yoga/stretch routine.

Saturday: Walk 1.5 miles. Run five minutes, walk five minutes; do three times.

Sunday: Rest day.

WEEK 3
Monday:
Walk 1.5 miles. Run 10 minutes, walk five to seven minutes. Run 12 minutes, walk five to seven minutes.

Tuesday: Walk three to five miles and do core routine for 10 minutes or less.

Wednesday: Rest day.

Thursday: Run one minute, walk one minute; repeat this sequence 16 times for a total of 32 minutes.

Friday: Rest day or yoga/stretch routine.

Saturday: Walk 1.5 miles. Run 10 minutes, walk five minutes, run five minutes, walk five minutes, run 10 minutes, walk five to 10 minutes.

Sunday: Rest day.

WEEK 4
Monday:
Walk one mile. Run three minutes, walk two minutes; do 10 times for a total of 50 minutes. Walk five minutes.

Tuesday: Walk one mile. Run 15 minutes, walk five minutes, run 15 minutes, walk five minutes and do core routine for 10 minutes or less.

Wednesday: Rest day.

Thursday: Walk one mile. Run five minutes, walk two minutes; do that seven-minute sequence five times. Walk five minutes.

Friday: Rest day or yoga/stretch routine.

Saturday: Walk one mile. Run 10 minutes, walk three minutes, run 15 minutes, walk five minutes, run 15 minutes.

Sunday: Rest day.

WEEK 5
Monday:
Walk one mile. Run three minutes, walk two minutes; do that five-minute sequence a total of 10 times. Walk five minutes.

Tuesday: Walk one mile. Run 20 minutes, walk five minutes. Repeat two more times.

Wednesday: Rest day.

Thursday: Walk one mile. Run five minutes, walk two minutes; do that seven-minute sequence five times. Walk five minutes.

Friday: Rest day or yoga/stretch routine.

Saturday: Walk one mile. Run 30 minutes, walk five minutes. Run 15 minutes, walk five minutes.

Sunday: Rest day.

Remember, I'm here to support and guide you along the way!

-- Amanda

Readers -- Have you ever run a 5K, half marathon or full marathon? Did you have a training plan? If so, what kind of plan did you follow? What are some tips and tricks that helped you achieve your goal? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Amanda Russell is a top-rated fitness and lifestyle writer, professional keynote speaker, Olympic-trained athlete, model, spokeswoman, founder of FitStrongandSexy.com and one of the industry's leading experts on fitness, wellness and change. Amanda hosts and executive produces the online fitness series: Fit Strong and Sexy. To watch Amanda's show, visit AmandaRussell.tv.

Find more of Amanda on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Google+.

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