How to train for a 5K run

How to train for a 5k run in 3 months and get over the finish line

Most people planning to become great at long-distance running do it for the challenge, for the exercise, to reduce stress, or a combination of all three. Then there are those who simply love to compete. No matter what your reason is, becoming great at anything always takes time, commitment, and practice.


Running your first 5 kilometres is a milestone. But first you need to know how to get ready for a 5k run. Take it one step, one kilometre, one week at a time. Be positive, pace yourself, plan and create a strategy. If you think you can run faster, eventually you will. Here's how to get to the finish line.

Create a training schedule that’ll get you to the starting line

So, how do you prepare for a 5k run? The first thing you’ll need is a good quality pair of running shoes suited for your foot arch and your stride type. And good quality seam-free socks that manage moisture are just as important to ensure so you don’t get blisters. But before you lace them up and start your running journey, you’ll need to create a realistic and workable training program and running schedule.


No matter what your fitness level, you can run walk and take walk breaks as much as you like when you’re first starting your 5k training plan. This can be running for a set distance followed by walking or even cycling to increase your endurance. Either way, the best guide to running is a minimum of a few days a week in the months leading up to your first 5k race, while working on increasing both the intensity and the distance of your runs.

Strength training for 5k run

Improve your mobility and form with some strength and cross training

Running is repetitious, and like anything involving repetitive motion, it can cause stress on your body. Too much of this kind of repetitive stress can cause problems physically, so you need to be prepared with the right training. Incorporate some mobility and cross training elements, as well as strength exercises to enhance your running regime. The best way to do this would be to join a good quality fitness centre using the Shop SmallTM locator. You’ll find some great gyms in your local area which offer classes and equipment for a full range of activities, including yoga for mind and body conditioning, through to high intensity weight training and cardio.

Before starting each run, you’ll also need a good warm-up routine with dynamic stretching to really get your blood flowing. Dynamic stretching of your muscles and joints will also increase your overall flexibility and help prevent any injuries. It can include anything like high knees, butt kicks, walking lunges, and some straight-leg kicks which help to stretch out your hamstrings. Afterwards you should spend at least 5 to 20 minutes walking briskly and then run walk for 30 minutes before slowly speeding up to a comfortable running pace.

How to train for your first 5k

Find your motivation and make it work for you

Whenever someone sets themselves a new goal in life, motivation is always the key to their success. We can set personal challenges, but motivation is what keeps us going until we eventually achieve our goals. Unfortunately, though, motivation is often elusive. That’s why you may find it difficult sometimes to physically make yourself lace up and get out there for a run. Ask yourself… is running 5k good for you? You know it is.


While it’s always so much easier to come up with excuses to avoid difficult things in life, the key is to come up with reasons you should just do it anyway. Running is as much about your metal tenacity as it is about your physical endurance and overcoming mental barriers in running is a lesson we can use in our everyday lives. Think about why you want to run 5k in the first place. Remember motivation almost always follows action, and you’ll be happier with yourself if you get up off the couch and get it done. Get yourself ready, lace up, and hit the pavement. Not only will running races make you feel good, but you’ll also feel a sense of satisfaction in the long run by keeping to your running routine.

Mentally prepare by researching the race

To ensure you’re mentally and physically prepared for the challenge ahead, it’s important you know everything you can about the race. The best approach for this is to look closely at the route while considering your personal strengths and then plan how you’ll run your race. It’s a good idea to run, bike, or drive the course in the days before so you are familiar with any places where you may need to push yourself harder as well as where you can take things easier.


If you don’t have the right amount of time to check it out before the race, you can always study the course online using race reviews and news reports, as well as maps and satellite images. Other factors you should research include the expected humidity and weather conditions, as well as road surface and topography, as well as locations of any water stops.

Woman running 5k

Stay focused when it comes to race day

To ensure you’re not running late on race day, set your alarm early so you can get there around an hour or so before the starting gun is fired. It’s also super important you know exactly where the race starts to ensure you don’t get lost or end up at the wrong place on the morning of the race. No matter how warm or cool the weather is on the day, it’s also really important to drink plenty of fluid. Just make sure you only take small and slow sips over time rather than gulping water down too quickly.


Remember to trust in all the training you’ve done in the lead up to the 5k race, and don't hold back from running fast. How long does it take to run a 5k race? That’s up to you, but nobody ever ran a personal best when holding back. It doesn’t matter if you finish the race in first place or dead last, as long as you finish the race and feel great while you’re doing it. Good luck! You got this!





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