5k run - training

Five kilometres (the '5k'), is one of the most popular distances to run. It's short enough to be accessible for most novices, and excellent training for more experienced runners. Charity runs, or fun-runs, often set their courses to 5k. If it's your first time, you'll find some here tips to get you off to a good start. There are also some suggestions if you're a runner using this distance to build up your stamina for a bigger event.

What kind of runner are you?

Beginner

Even if you're new to running, you should be able to cover 5k comfortably if you build up your stamina. The key is to run regularly, steadily, and understand the need to vary your pace over the distance to begin with.

Gradually work on time and distance, but remember to vary your pace - it will help you achieve your goal. Start with a 3 minute leg of steady running, followed by 1 minute walking: don't exhaust yourself by trying too hard. By building up 5 minutes, every other week, you'll be surprised how quickly this turns into an extra kilometre. As you get fitter, you'll also spend less time in recovery (walking), and more time at a brisker pace.

Experienced

5k may sound like a short event, but including this distance regularly will develop areas of fitness that make you much more effective as a runner.

Aim to build your weekly run up to 80 minutes (probably further than 5k), by increasing it steadily, 5 minutes each week. Then reduce the amount of time you run to 70 minutes the next week, but increase the pace slightly. These distances should be run at a 'steady' pace, so that you can speak a couple of sentences at a time. If you'd like to find out more about pace, read Fundamentals of running.

Race day

Whether it's a competitive event or a fun-run, there are some simple pieces of preparation you can do that will help you enjoy the race:

  • Ease up. Don't over-do it, just before your race. It's better to make sure you're fresh for your 5K with light jogging and stretching for 2 to 3 days beforehand.
  • Stick with what you know. Do the same warm up routines you're used to, eat the same foods and at the same times, relative to when you are running, as you would if you were training.
  • Get there in good time. You don't want to be rushing around, looking for toilets or wondering where the course goes.
  • Start at a sensible pace. Most people will start too fast and fade, so the best advice is to run at an even pace. You will also run faster if you start slightly too slow and pick up the pace than if you go too fast and then tire.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of liquids after you've finished the run - on the run if you feel the need.
  • Refuel. Eat as soon as you can after running, because this is when the body is best able to refuel.

Find out more about varying your pace as a runner and building up stamina with timed sessions.

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