5K training plan: Get ready to cross the finish line in 6 weeks

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Whether you're doing Race for Life or The Colour Run, follow our training tips to help you stay the course.

Running and jogging

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Running – what could be simpler? Just lace up your trainers and go, right? But what if the last time you pounded the pavement was on the way to the newsagent for some Malteasers? And the last time you wore your sports bra was when you'd run out of clean underwear?

The good news is that 5k is an achievable distance for all women, according to fitness expert Lucy Wyndham-Read so if you want to do it, you can.

She says: 'It's not that much further than when you walk your dog, go sightseeing or go on a shopping trip. It's equivalent to wandering along the River Thames from Westminster Bridge to the Tower of London.'

Lucy says that those who jog or run can expect to complete a 5k course in about 30 to 45 minutes, while walkers will take about an hour.

Below is Lucy's six-week plan to help you build up your ability to run 5K without stopping. Each week you should gradually build up the amount of running you're able to do, though you can repeat any one of the weeks until you feel ready to move on.

Structuring your weekly runs will help keep you motivated, so allocate specific days and stick to them. 'As a rule of thumb, you should aim to jog three times a week and have three rest days,' says Lucy. 'A rest day in between each run will reduce your chance of injury and will also make you a stronger, better runner.'

Your 5K running plan

Week 1
By the end of this week, you will feel fitter and have more energy.

Monday and Wednesday: Begin with a two minute brisk walk, then alternate a one minute jog. Repeat five times, for a total of 15 minutes.

Friday: Take a brisk walk for 20 minutes. To get an idea of pace, you should be slightly out of breath.

Tuesday and Thursday are your rest days. You may wish to complete some gentle exercise, such as yoga, on either Saturday or Sunday.

Week 2
You'll find that your running is starting to feel easier.

Monday and Wednesday: Begin with a one minute brisk walk, then alternate with two minutes of jogging. Repeat eight times for a total of 24 minutes.

Friday: Walk for 25 minutes.

Tuesday and Thursday are your rest days. You may wish to complete some gentle exercise, or go for another walk on either Saturday or Sunday.

Week 3
You'll notice you're feeling more toned.

Monday and Wednesday: Begin with a one minute brisk walk, then alternate with four minutes of jogging. Repeat six times for a total of 35 minutes.

Friday: Go for a gentle 15 minute jog.

Tuesday and Thursday are your rest days. You may wish to take a walk or complete some yoga on either Saturday or Sunday.

Week 4
You'll really start to enjoy your running session.

Monday and Wednesday: Begin with a one minute brisk walk, then alternate with five minutes jogging. Repeat five times for a total of 35 minutes.

Friday: Go for a gentle 20 minute jog.

Tuesday and Thursday are your rest days. You may wish to take a walk on either Saturday or Sunday.

Week 5
Not long until the race...

Monday: Begin with a brisk two minute walk, then alternate with a five minute jog and repeat three times for a total of 21 minutes.

Wednesday: Begin with a brisk two minute walk, then alternate with eight minutes of jogging. Repeat three times for a total of 30 minutes.

Friday: Go for a gentle 20 min jog. You can do it!

Tuesday and Thursday are your rest days. You may wish to complete some gentle exercise, such as yoga, or take a walk on either Saturday or Sunday.

Week 6
Nearly there…

Monday and Wednesday: Go for a gentle 25-minute jog.

Friday: Walk for 40 minutes. This gives you a rest from running ahead of your event.

Tuesday and Thursday are your rest days. You may wish to take a gentle walk a couple of days before your race to stretch and loosen up your muscles. Good luck!

Running tips
  • Wear comfy shoes and a sports bra.

  • Find a running buddy.

  • Remember to warm up and cool down before and after any exercise. Taking time to stretch properly will help reduce chances of injury.

  • Stay hydrated before, during and after exercise – don't wait until you're thirsty.


  • To find out about your local Race for Life event or Colour Run, visit raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org or thecolorrun.co.uk

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