5K run: 7-week training schedule for beginners

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Doing a 5K run can add a new level of challenge and interest to your exercise program. A 5K run is 3.1 miles. Don't be daunted by the distance. A 5K run is a great distance for a beginner. You can prepare for a 5K run in just two months.

If you don't think a 5K seems possible or you don't think you have enough time or energy, this 5K schedule may help you. It includes several short sessions during the week of only about 30 minutes each. Write when you'll exercise in your calendar, and make a note of when your 5K race is taking place. If you're not comfortable running, you can walk instead! Give it a try and you might just meet your goal and finish a 5K.

If you're only beginning to exercise, make sure you start slowly. Start with a slower pace and exercise for shorter times, such as a few short walks spread throughout the day. Work your way up to moving faster and for longer periods as your body adjusts. Then begin the 5K training schedule once you're able to exercise for 30 minutes at a time.

The Department of Health and Human Services also recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Being active 30 minutes a day on most days of the week can help you meet the guidelines.

How to use the 5K training schedule

Consider using this seven-week 5K run training schedule as your guide. It's tailored for beginners or anyone who wants to complete a 5K race. You can also adapt it for a 5K walk.

This 5K training schedule includes a mix of running, walking and resting. This combination helps reduce the risk of injury, stress and fatigue while boosting your enjoyment of physical activity. Remember, you can run or walk slowly to help your body adjust to this 5K training schedule.

If you'd like to choose a different exercise instead of walking on the walking days, you can try cross-training and do alternative exercises such as water running, cycling or rowing.

Under this 5K run training schedule, you'll spend some of your time walking. For instance, during week one on run/walk days, you'll run for 15 seconds and then walk for 45 seconds, repeating that cycle for 30 minutes.

As the weeks progress, you'll gradually increase time spent running and reduce the time spent walking. Or you can always walk, if you're adapting the training for a 5K walk.

One day a week — Friday on this 5K schedule — is a day of rest from exercise. This gives your muscles time to recover. On Sunday, you can either take another day of rest or enjoy a walk for as long as you'd like. Also take a day of rest the day before your race. On this 5K run training schedule, race day falls on Saturday of your seventh week.

5K run: 7-week training schedule for beginners

Week 1

On run/walk days, walkers walk only. Runners run for 15 seconds/walk for 45 seconds.

Monday Run/walk 30 minutes
Tuesday Walk 30 minutes
Wednesday Run/walk 30 minutes
Thursday Walk 30 minutes
Friday Rest
Saturday Run/walk 3 miles (4.8 km)
Sunday Rest or walk

Week 2

On run/walk days, walkers walk only. Runners run for 15 seconds/walk for 45 seconds.

Monday Run/walk 30 minutes
Tuesday Walk 30 minutes
Wednesday Run/walk 30 minutes
Thursday Walk 30 minutes
Friday Rest
Saturday Run/walk 3.5 miles (5.6 km)
Sunday Rest or walk

Week 3

On run/walk days, walkers walk only. Runners run for 20 seconds/walk for 40 seconds.

Monday Run/walk 30 minutes
Tuesday Walk 30 minutes
Wednesday Run/walk 30 minutes
Thursday Walk 30 minutes
Friday Rest
Saturday Run/walk 2 miles (3.2 km) with Magic Mile*
Sunday Rest or walk

Week 4

On run/walk days, walkers walk only. Runners run for 20 seconds/walk for 40 seconds.

Monday Run/walk 30 minutes
Tuesday Walk 30 minutes
Wednesday Run/walk 30 minutes
Thursday Walk 30 minutes
Friday Rest
Saturday Run/walk 4 miles (6.4 km)
Sunday Rest or walk

Week 5

On run/walk days, walkers walk only. Runners run for 25 seconds/walk for 35 seconds.

Monday Run/walk 30 minutes
Tuesday Walk 30 minutes
Wednesday Run/walk 30 minutes
Thursday Walk 30 minutes
Friday Rest
Saturday Run/walk 2 miles (3.2 km) with Magic Mile*
Sunday Rest or walk

Week 6

On run/walk days, walkers walk only. Runners run for 25 seconds/walk for 35 seconds.

Monday Run/walk 30 minutes
Tuesday Walk 30 minutes
Wednesday Run/walk 30 minutes
Thursday Walk 30 minutes
Friday Rest
Saturday Run/walk 4.5 miles (7.2 km)
Sunday Rest or walk

Week 7

On run/walk days, walkers walk only. Runners run for 30 seconds/walk for 30 seconds.

Source: Galloway J. Galloway's 5K/10K Running. 3rd ed. Meyer & Meyer Sport; 2017. Used with permission.
*The Magic Mile is a training tool designed to help you find a realistic race pace. On the first Magic Mile, warm up as usual and then run or walk 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) slightly faster than your normal pace. Time your 1-mile run/walk with a stopwatch. Run or walk easily the rest of the distance assigned for the day. On each successive Magic Mile, warm up as usual, and then try to beat your previous 1-mile run/walk time. Your 5K race pace should generally be about one to two minutes slower than your fastest Magic Mile time.
Monday Run/walk 30 minutes
Tuesday Walk 30 minutes
Wednesday Run/walk 30 minutes
Thursday Walk 30 minutes
Friday Rest
Saturday 5K race day
Sunday Rest or walk
Feb. 12, 2020 See more In-depth

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  3. Aerobic exercise
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  5. Air pollution and exercise
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  7. Barefoot running shoes
  8. Buying athletic shoes? Check your arch
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  10. Choose the right walking shoes
  11. Cycle your way to better health
  12. Do you need to warm up before you exercise?
  13. Elliptical machines: Better than treadmills?
  14. Exercise: Are you working hard enough?
  15. Exercise for weight loss: Calories burned in 1 hour
  16. Exercise: How much do I need?
  17. Exercise intensity
  18. Exercising: Does taking the stairs count?
  19. Exercising? Take it up a notch
  20. Focus on fit when shoe shopping
  21. Walking schedule
  22. Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
  23. How much exercise do you need?
  24. Interval Training
  25. Kids and exercise
  26. Vary your cardiovascular workouts
  27. Exercise and opioids
  28. Interval training
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  31. Step it up with an activity tracker
  32. The real secret to a healthy heart
  33. Time for new walking shoes?
  34. Tired of walking alone? Team up!
  35. Walking for fitness: Overcoming setbacks
  36. Walking for fitness: Staying motivated
  37. Walking for fitness: Warm up, cool down
  38. Walking group
  39. Walking and trackers
  40. Walking poles
  41. Walking shoes
  42. Walking for fitness
  43. Walking with ankle weights? Stop!
  44. Want a strong brain? Exercise!
  45. Want to get more active? Try an activity tracker
  46. Want to maximize your daily walk?
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