Even if you’ve never run before, follow this straightforward plan for beginners to run 5K without stopping in eight weeks.
Running five kilometres without stopping is a great goal to have. It’s a target that only requires a pair of trainers, can be done anywhere and is something that almost anyone can achieve in a couple of months. Along the way you’ll also enjoy clear signs of how much you are improving your fitness, as you find that you’re able to run further every week.
It’s true that the first couple of times you run are probably not going to be that enjoyable because your body’s not used to it. But the good news is that your body will adapt in next to no time. This plan builds up the amount of running you do very slowly so your body can acclimatise gradually and you don’t have to worry that your legs will be too stiff to walk the next day. If you keep at it for a couple of months it is absolutely certain – and this is a 100%, take-it-to-the-bank guarantee – that you will start to enjoy running. You might even become addicted.
There are lots of great ways to work towards a first 5K. You can download one of the many couch-to-5K apps available or check in with your local running club to see if they put on any beginner’s training groups working towards a 5K. They almost certainly will, and this is perhaps the best way of all to start running, because you’ll be doing it with a group of like-minded beginners embarking on the same journey as you, guided by experienced runners who will be able to answer any questions you might have.
If you do want to fly solo, then another truly excellent way to build up to your first 5K is to follow this eight-week training plan.
8-Week Couch To 5K Training Plan
This couch to 5K plan is designed by running coach Ed Kerry (therundoctor.co.uk) and is based around three sessions a week. You can space these sessions out however you like, although it’s probably wise to aim for at least one rest day between them.
Each week the first session is a mix of running and walking in repeated intervals. For example in week one you run for 30 seconds then walk for 30 seconds, with the pattern repeated 15 times.
The second session each week is simply a case of running or walking for a certain amount of time, with the mix entirely up to you.
In the third session of each week you’ll be covering 5K every time. For the first few weeks it will all be walking, but from week four you start to reduce the amount of walking and increase the time running until you’re ready to run the entire thing at the end of week eight.
| Session 1 | Run 30sec, walk 30sec, repeat 15 times | | Session 2 | Run/walk 10min (freestyle) | | Session 3 | Walk 5km, timing how long it takes you |
| Session 1 | Run 45sec, walk 45sec, repeat 12 times | | Session 2 | Run/walk 15min (freestyle) | | Session 3 | Walk 5km (aim to beat previous week’s time) |
| Session 1 | Run 60sec, walk 60sec, repeat 10 times | | Session 2 | Run/walk 20min (freestyle) | | Session 3 | Walk 5km (aim to beat previous week’s time) |
| Session 1 | Run 90sec, walk 90sec, repeat 8 times | | Session 2 | Run/walk 25min (freestyle) | | Session 3 | Run 1km, walk 4km |
| Session 1 | Run 2min, walk 2min, repeat 6 times | | Session 2 | Run/walk 30min (freestyle) | | Session 3 | Run 2km, walk 3km |
| Session 1 | Run 3min, walk 2min, repeat 5 times | | Session 2 | Run/walk 35min (freestyle) | | Session 3 | Run 3km, walk 2km |
| Session 1 | Run 5min, walk 2min, repeat 4 times | | Session 2 | Run/walk 40min (freestyle) | | Session 3 | Run 4km, walk 1km |
| Session 1 | Run 10min, walk 60sec, repeat 3 times | | Session 2 | Run/walk 45min (freestyle) | | Session 3 | Run 5km |
Written by Nick Harris-Fry for Coach and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.
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