Spring Into a 5k Challenge

Sandy SandersSo you want to do your first 5k, but aren’t sure where to start in terms of training? Running isn’t something that has to be taught, per se, because running is a pretty instinctual skill.  Put most people in a dark alley with a loud bang (or tell me there’s free-gluten free cheesecake in aisle 15) and you’ll watch that instinct take over.  However, learning to train injury-free for a sustained distance run isn’t so instinctual.

In our excitement to take on a new challenge, many times we try to do too much, too soon, which leads to injury. Runner Josh Clark realized this back in 1996, which prompted him to develop his wildly popular Couch to 5K running program (available online and as a smartphone app), which allows runners to gradually build their endurance so they eventually complete a full 5k run.

Gradually is the keyword. When training for a 5k, your plan should focus on gradually building your endurance to ensure you can complete 3.1 miles worth of running.

For any type of cardio program to be effective, it should be done for a minimum of 20 minutes, and done at least three times per week.  When starting off, put duration before intensity. Tackling steep San Francisco-type hills and trying to keep up with a Gold medal Olympian can wait. First, concentrate on increasing the amount of time you can run without stopping… period.

With that said, give this eight week cardio running challenge a try! If you have a dog, or a baby and a jogging stroller, try taking them along!  I chose Monday, Wednesday and Friday as the training days, but feel free to choose any “every other day of the week” schedule that works best for you.

If constantly running isn’t your thing, then find a cardio class at the gym – Zumba, indoor spin, or another 60 minute cardio class – with the goal being to get to the point where you move nonstop for almost 45 minutes. By week six, however, devote at least one day per week to a minimum 20 minute run, because doing a 5k run will require that you actually… well, run.

Spring Into a 5k

(Click above for a high-res image to print out!)

If you decided to use this challenge and completed your first ever 5k – I’d love to hear how it went!


April 13, 2014 at 8:30 am

You forgot to mention that getting out of one’s comfort zone via tackling a 5K is the gateway to other endurance events such as 10Ks, Halfs, full-Marathons, or literally taking the plunge into the world of TRIs or Mud events, etc… ((My plunge has thus far involved incredibly cold Bay Area water. Yesterday.)

Combining Zumba and a 5K program was my strategy and it worked well. Unfortunately Zumba has been kicked in the corner in favor of half marathon training, SUP, and now TRI training. 🙂

I am so incredibly grateful I went through a C25K program and highly recommend anyone wanting to give it a try to do so!

Sandy S

April 28, 2014 at 3:13 am

Lucyland, I agree, once you tackle a 5K you build your confidence level because “I could NEVER run 3.1 miles,” gives way to “I JUST ran 3.1 miles,” which soon gives way to challenging one’s self to other activities.

The Bay Area swim — was that an open swim? Training? or part of some tri??

As far as your Zumba and the C25K training you did, glad to see that you realized that training didn’t have to be straight up running. Funny but I don’t run, as I believe increasing my endurance is the key to being able to run these events. It’s not for everyone, but works for me. 🙂

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