A Simple 5K Running Plan

Editors Note: This is a Guest Post from Paul Vernon at CubicleWarrior

Running is by far one of the cheapest ways to get fit. All you need are shoes, some gym/running clothes and you’re all set! It is common for most people who want to lose weight to begin some sort of a running regimen.

Running your first 5k is a great benchmark by which you can test your cardiovascular fitness. Running a 5k race (whether timed in an official event or by yourself) will not only challenge you but will also give you a sense of fulfillment when you finish. You know the feeling of accomplishing something you never thought you’d be able to achieve? That’s the feeling you’ll get when you run your first 5k. Anyone can run a 5k if you put your heart to it. If you haven’t run beyond 1k or more, then this guide is excellent for you.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’re on the heavy side and would like to run a 5k, you can do the guide below but please be sensitive about your knees. When you experience pain in your knees, as in pain in the joints, then they are experiencing too much pressure and impact when running. The way to go around this is to brisk walk instead. When you start to lose weight, there will be less pressure your knees and you can eventually progress to running.

Unless you’re coming off of an injury, I assume that you already know how to run. Who doesn’t? It’s a basic human survival skill. Our ancestors run to hunt and run to stay away from harm.


The 5k run is perfect for busy people such as myself. It’s neither too long such as a half-marathon (21k) nor too short (3k).  It’s just right for a sprint (if you want to challenge yourself) or for a quick run (normal pacing).

While some people could run a 5k almost immediately, it’s also good to give the body some time to adapt to the stress of running a 5k.

The main idea behind the progression is that you’ll do two types of runs: slow/steady jog pace, fast and short. When training, do not mind your time, the first goal is to FINISH not to FINISH fast. You can worry about finishing fast when you’re able to complete a 5k already. Please note that there are many ways to train for a 5k but this is the way I did it.

Week 1:

The goal this week is to introduce your body to a 2km run, just to get a feel of it. A 5k is just a little over twice what you’re going to run here. The 1km fast pace run is to prepare and train your body for a little more cardiovascular exertion. This will help you increase your cardiovascular strength so you don’t gas out easily.

Monday – 2km run – slow/steady jog pace

Wednesday – 1km run – fast pace – as fast as you can, a level which you’re comfortable

Friday – 2km run – slow/steady jog pace

Week 2:

We ramp up the pace for the 2nd week by beginning with a 2km fast pace run. You’ll progress to running a 3k and end the week with a 1k fast pace run (try to run faster than your 1k fast run in week 1).

Monday – 2km run – fast pace

Wednesday – 3km run – slow/steady pace

Friday – 1km run – fast pace

Week 3:

By week 3, you would’ve already have (hopefully) gotten a feel of how far a 5k really is when you’ve successfully finished a 3k. After all, that’s only 2k shy of 5k! Also by now, you would’ve already developed a certain cardiovascular fitness level that would be enough to last you 5k. You will be huffing and puffing yes, but you will not gas out (owing to the fast pace runs which really stretch your V02 max).

Week 3 is about running slow/steady progressively farther and farther starting with a 3k on Monday and ending with a 5k on Friday. Congratulations!

Monday – 3km run slow/steady

Wednesday – 4km run slow/steady

Friday – 5km run slow/steady

Some Notes

  • Don’t be afraid of stopping mid-way should you need to.
  • I suggest drinking a little every 1.5km. Don’t drink too much! Just enough to satisfy your thirst.
  • There will be no need to load carbohydrates for this. Just eat normally.

Running a 5k is a great way to find fitness. Your first goal is to finish a 5k and your next goal is to beat your time. I remember when I ran my first 5k, it took me over an hour! That’s because I literally walked most of the time! The next time I did a 5k, I was prepared. The sense of achievement was addicting and now I am running half marathons. All of this took less than a year but I always come back to that time when I trained for a 5k.


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