ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Your First 5k (training tips)

Updated on March 7, 2007

The 5k is the most popular race distance in America today. No matter where you live, you are probably within easy driving distance to a 5k road race on any given weekend. Racing is a great way to stay in shape and a great way to give back to your community, since most 5Ks are fundraisers. 5Ks are great because just about anyone can do them, young or old or even pushing a stroller. If you have done no running previously, give yourself at least 6 weeks, if you are already running some, you can probably get by with a month. Either way, to begin training for a 5k there are a few things to do, and here are 5 easy steps to get you to success:

Training Programs

Several different types of training programs exist:

Walk/Run Programs- These type of programs incorporate both running and walking into training. The program usually picks a distance to complete and than breaks the distance down in periods of running and periods of walking.

Running for Distance Programs- These types of programs use distance for training (and do not focus must on time), each day is a different distance to complete (example- 1 mile).

Running for Time Programs- These types of programs use timed runs for training (and do not focus much on distance), each day is a different amount of timed running to complete (example 20 minutes).

It is important to evaluate each program and evaluate your needs to find the right fit. See my HubPages article 6-Week Training Plan for 5K for more information.

A few things to remember:

(1) Dinner the night before the race shouldn't be anything too greasy, pasta is always a favorite among runners.

(2) Make sure you get a good nights rest, but wake up early enough so that you are not rushed. Give yourself enough time to get to the race to get your race number pinned on and some time to look at the course and stretch .

(3) Make sure you eat a healthy breakfast, don't skip it. Some good choices are are a bagel, a banana, or a peanut butter sandwich.

(4) Many of these races take place early in the morning, which can be chilly even in the summer. Take a sweatshirt or jacket you can throw on as you wait for the race to start, and don't forget gloves. It is important to dress warmly post-race too so your muscles don't tighten or cramp.

(5) When you line up, plan on lining up toward the back of the group. It is much easier on your self confidence to start too far in the back of the pack and spend the entire race passing people, than starting too close to the front and spend the entire race getting passed.

(6) When the race starts, it is important to run your own race. If you start out too fast, you will be pretty miserable before you are half-way through. Most races are marked so that you have a pretty good idea how far you have run. Maintain a comfortable pace, and toward the last mile, if you feel like you have some energy left, pick up the pace.

Step One: Get shoes/gear that fit

The first step is to get your into clothes and shoes that fit right, if your are uncomfortable in what you are wearing or if your shoes don't fit right, running is not going to be an enjoyable experience for you, and you probably won't stick with it. Buying the right running shoes is important, both for comfort while running and to prevent injury, the wrong shoes can cause back and leg pain. Ask store associate to help you pick out a shoe, and walk around for a while in the store with the shoes on (and run if you can) to make sure they fit right while you are moving. For more information on purchasing the right type of running shoes see my HubPages article Picking the right running shoes.

The clothes you wear are also important. You want to make sure the clothes you wear don't chaff, rub or cause blistering. You also want to make you dress for the weather, remember you will build up body heat as you run so make sure the clothes you wear pull the sweat away from you, or once you stop running the sweat will cool and cause muscles to tighten and cramp. For more information on the right type of running gear see my HubPages article Essential running gear.

Step Two: Pick a 5K and sign up

Check the newspaper or the internet to find your goal race. There are a lot of websites out there which sort races by date, distance, and location. Remember, the goal for your first 5K should be to complete it and have fun, not necessarily win, and definitely not make yourself miserable. When picking your race, make sure you leave enough time for adequate training (6 weeks if you are not an active runner). It is a good idea to mark it on your calendar, in big red pen so you can see it everyday as a reminder to stick with your goal! Once you have chosen your race, it is time to get running.

Step Three: Come up with a plan

Your plan for running your first 5K should involve both an "exercise plan" and a "healthy eating plan". I call it a "healthy eating plan" rather than a "diet" because you don't need to go on a diet per say, you just need to pay attention to the food going into your body and to make better choices about that food. Once you start running, your appetite will increase, don't deny yourself food, you need fuel in order to run. Rather just pick better foods to eat, stay away from sugary snacks or food loaded with fat, instead eat foods high in carbs and protein and low in fat. Granola bars and fruit are a great snack, pasta and lean chicken are also great choices. For more information on making healthy eating part of your plan see my HubPages article What to eat while running.

It is important to set up an "exercise plan" for yourself, mark out 6 weeks on your calendar and the workouts you will do for each week. Have a set plan will help to keep you on track, and will help you see your progress. It something comes up and you can't workout on day, move that workout to another day on your calendar. Everyone is different, and so every exercise plan should be different, however there are some universal goals that should be carried through all running programs. First, start out at a slow pace for a short distance and build from there. Give your self enough recovery time, and make sure you stretch, and don't be afraid to walk if you have to, any movement is better than stopping. Also, cross training is very important, it is good way to work other muscle group and build strength. For more information on creating the perfect exercise plan for yourself see my HubPages article A 6-week workout plan for your first 5K.

Step Four: Follow through with the plan

It is important to stay on track, especially when you are setting a time limit on yourself (6-weeks). Keep the date of your race written on your calendars in big red pen so you see it everyday, hang the racer flyer or race information on your fridge or your mirror to remind yourself. Set goals for yourself and reward yourself when you get there. A new running shirt for two weeks of training completed, and extra low-fat snack for a great workout. Don't let one missed workout derail your course, things happen, we get sick, or have bad days, get right back on it the next day.

Step Five: Show up on race day

A lot of people blow this. Don't be scared! You can do it. Even if you didn't quite live up to my training regimen, or aren't exactly where you want to be, you can still do it! Some call it a race day high, but you will find it down inside, a way to accomplish what you have set out to do. It's also a lot of fun to be part of something with a lot of other people and the rush will give you a boost once you get going. Walk if you have to, but don't let your goal fall by the side of the road. There's also usually some fun stuff after a race, like a food tent. It's a great place to enjoy your accomplishment and also a great place to meet like-minded folks and maybe sign up for your next one.

Get Started!

The popularity of the 5K is two fold. At 3.1 miles, the 5k is a distance that most anyone can train for and complete. And most 5K's are fund-raisers as well, which adds to their appeal. You should, however, be careful. Once you have run one, you may find yourself addicted.....


Submit a Comment
New comments are not being accepted on this article at this time.

  • profile image

    tagger 9 years ago

    I love the 5Ks fundraisers, a fun day with my family. Thanks for the encouragement, I would seriouly look at the training steps you mention here. I do sometimes have excuses to blow up the last step of showing in the race day.


  • profile image

    Jackson 9 years ago

    Having run my first 5K yesterday, I was very excited. My previous jogging experince was only to jog recreationally during my work-day lunch. I don't bother to keep track of time or pace.

    My first thought was that I was simply going to treat the 5K as just another lunch-time jog. My girls were so excited about the "race", and when I showed up to register everyone was so involved. At that point it really hit home that this was not a jog, but a real race. Some of the runner were semi-pro's and other less fit. It was exciting to be there. Something about the enviroment made me more competative.

    My pace was 8.5 min/mile, which didn't win me a ribbon, but was a personal best for me.

  • solarshingles profile image

    solarshingles 9 years ago from london

    I like your hub and I love to run, as well.

  • profile image

    laaaaaaaa 9 years ago


  • profile image

    matty logan beth l 9 years ago


  • profile image

    lava 9 years ago

    im mike wasalski

  • profile image

    pauly 9 years ago

    good tips, my first 5k is this coming saturday and i have been basically just moving slowly from jogging 1 mile to 3 miles over the past 60-90 days, jogging every other day. eating healthy. i came here to find out what to eat the morning of the race....

  • profile image

    Tony V. 8 years ago


    I need help! I trained for over 2 months for my 5k, ran at least 2 to 3times weekly. I'm 6'4" and weigh around 240. Ran 2 mile interval runs, always had a 4-mile run once a week for endurance, even tried a split runs (ran 2mile in the am and 2 in the pm), during the moring of the race I was confident, I even had my brother with me who never enjoyed running until now and his training consisted of running (With his dog!) within only 3 weeks of the race. Anyways, after the first mile I knew it wasn't my day, I needed 3 walking breaks, and my brother who I thought I would need to support he was the one encouraging me! What HAPPENED?? I'm depressed. Do I need to lose more weight ... I also enjoy weight training, would added muscle affected me? Tony

  • NorthKelsey profile image

    NorthKelsey 8 years ago from Kentucky

    Great hub! I went 5k crazy last year. Lol... I love that distance and there is always a great race close by.

  • profile image

    Jim H 7 years ago

    I've been running "casually" for 2 and one half years. I am

    a "goal oriented" person and need some advice. I am thinking of enter a 5K, just to say I've done it. When I

    started running I weighed 219 lbs. I now weigh 192 lbs and

    am about 6'1 1/2". I am some what frustrated in that my time is not real good. For three miles, the first mile I am

    at about 9 minutes (my best is 8 min 37 secs), the second

    is about 9 and one half minutes and the third mile is about

    the same. My overall time is around 28 to 29 minutes. I would like to think I could get to 25 minutes before I enter. The winners in my age range (57) run about 22 minutes. I don't need to win, I would just like to be a little more competitive before I start. I run 4 or 5 times

    a week, typically 3 to 5 miles. My times have been the same for a year! I eat "reasonable" but not totally "healthy".

    I have something sweet everyday - usually a soft drink.

    Do I need to loose more weight or eat a better diet or

    train better or quit? Thanks for your advice!!!!!

  • profile image

    Tim 7 years ago

    Very good post, thanks for sharing

  • profile image

    la la  7 years ago

    okay, first, i just wanted to let everyone know that has run a 5k, that i am personally proud of you, even though im a total stranger! my first 5k is coming up, and me and my boyfriend are running in it together :). but i just wanted to say that if you have more self-confidence, you'll do better,and feel better about yourself. that is just how your body works. so don't let yourself down because you ran a mile in 9 minutes, but be proud of it, because there are people in the world who can't run a mile at all. self-confidence is key to being in shape!

    also, don't get stressed or depressed. it is important that you think good of yourself. look at how far you've come. be proud of what you can accomplish, even if it isn't your best time. let running take your mind away. let it be free, and don't think of anything. just let your legs carry you, and maybe even close your eyes for a second to clear your head.

    good luck to everyone participating in a 5k and congrats for getting this far!

  • jeya1230 profile image

    jeya1230 7 years ago from Philippines

    Great hub I also love running I hope I could progress more.

  • Weigh-less profile image

    Weigh-less 7 years ago

    I love to run too! It is my best way to relieve stress. I run about 5 to 6 miles a day. I really need to start participating in a runners club. I also started eating healthier, which definitely has given me more energy. Check out some of my healthy recipes and tips.

  • profile image

    CD!*:) 7 years ago

    I am completely excited and nervous about my very first 5k!!!! I signed up rather late... It is June 27th! Is that a ridiculous mistake not giving myself at least 6 weeks to train? I don't need to win... I am only looking for my Personal best... which is something that I am infatuated with at the moment. So I have 22 days to go for this thing.... I can run on a treadmill for at least 2.5 miles... Outside always feels different for me... even flat! So I have started a 1.5 mile run-walk-run a little more and struggle to control your breathing-get into a kick ass stride with the awesome song playing on your mp3-pause to dance for a moment because you just can't help it-run a bit more-walk- finish strong with a run. So less than organized as that is... That has been my system. I'm doomed, right? F it. I'm going for it anyway... I'm sure that they have emergency vehicles close by!:)

  • profile image

    EJ 6 years ago

    Wow I like this post!!! I'm 25 years old and about a year ago I made my "ongoing bucket list"... I'm not about to die or anything its just a list of goals I wanna accomplish... 3 days ago I was asked by a friend a simple question, "When are you gonna do a 5k with me?"... that hit me... I recently added running a 5k in my bucket list and now I'm just searching for tips on how to do it... Again very good post thank you :)

  • profile image

    marbella 6 years ago

    I have signed up for my first 5k and I am starting to get very nervous. Have 3 weeks to train. Thanks for the tips and motivation!!!

  • profile image

    Yvonne 6 years ago

    I have my 5k today! first since i was 14 years old. Im 5'4 263, but i was working out for first training but last 3 weeks I was not training. Im not good at running so my 5k is invoved in walking and jogging.... Its today its helped read your blog. i just wanted to know some warm up streches right before the whistle blows.

  • profile image

    CollB 6 years ago

    Yes the 5k is addictive. I've been running for 5 yrs and try to contribute to the charity organisation I run for (courtesy of a friend who mentioned they were then doing that race). I've also got a hub on reasons I jog (for this mini marathon)!

  • profile image

    Running Girl 5 years ago

    I am running the "Girls on the Run New Balance 5k" in November. I am currently training and trying to run/walk everyday. This race is NOT competitive, but I'm still nervous about one thing... the start of the race. I have ran in a 1 Mile Fun Run a couple times before, and I ALWAYS get very nervous right before they blow the horn. Any help with this is appreciated!

    Also,here is a link I found helpful:

  • profile image

    jim 5 years ago

    wooooooooooooooooooooo hoooooooo just ran a five k like 30 inutes ago asooooooooooooooo much funb

  • ladeda profile image

    ladeda 5 years ago

    I'm not much of a runner, but I just signed up for my first 5k this June. Thanks for the tips in this Hub!

  • profile image

    Evelyn 5 years ago

    I'm running my first 5k this Saturday I'm excited and nervous can't wait...very useful info thanks

  • profile image

    Christina 5 years ago


  • profile image

    Scarlet 5 years ago

    I am training for my very first 5K ever coming up on July 14th and I AM A WRECK. I'm 28 and I hate running, if I'm honest. My time stinks. I'm at like, 45 minutes on a straightaway run. This race has some big hills too. My goal at first was to just finish it without walking, which is still my primary goal. Now I'm getting embarrassed. What if I fail? What if people make fun of me for being so slow? What if I have to walk? :( So nervous. I'm training hard but it never seems like enough!

  • profile image

    SeetteAmbutle 4 years ago

    My partner and i accustomed to find at the top of living nevertheless of late I've accumulated a new weight.

  • profile image

    Mylindaminka 4 years ago

    Внутренний строй парфюмы неоднороден. Чтобы понять, из чего на самом деле она состоит, необходимо иметь ввиду разные ее уровни. 1-й. Нормативно-технический уровень, состоящий из правил, т.е. помады предписаний и запретов, определяющих течение любой парфюмы. В футболе можно причёскать ногами, нельзя руками всем, кроме вратаря в пределах штрафной площадки. В картах нельзя подсматривать за картами партнера, можно брать прикуп. В театре нельзя сгонять зрителей с кресел, а зрителям нельзя прерывать действие даже в том случае, если актеры разыгрывают его в зрительном зале, обращаясь или прикасаясь к зрителю.

Click to Rate This Article