Always in Health

Beginner’s Couch to 5K Training Plan

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I know what you’re thinking, “How am I going to run a 5K when I haven’t even walked fast in a long time?”

It might seem impossible to run a 5K, in fact I thought the exact same thing before I ran my first 5K ten years ago. I am here to share with you some of what I consider the best ways to prepare for your first; or, your first in a while 5K.

Before we go any further I want you to know that you do not have to “sprint” or “run” a 5K to classify yourself as a successful 5K competitor. You just need to do your best whether that means you walk, jog or run the distance.

I LOVE having a step-by-step guide for everything; so, I’m going to hook you up with just that in bullet point format!

Ready to tackle your first 5k? Use this training plan that includes a schedule for running, stretching, and everything else you need to know.

Logistics:

Step 1Research the races that are being held in your area, then sign up.

●     I recommend signing up for a race 30 to 60 days out.

●     This will give you enough time to physically and mentally prepare.

Step 2Find yourself a journal (to write/type out your progress notes) and a blank calendar. The journal and calendar can be in the same binder.

●     This is where you can keep track of the distances you walk/jog/run, the amount of time it took for you to complete each and also misc. info you can use to quantify your progress.

●     Don’t forget to celebrate each day of training you have completed!!  This is an AWESOME adventure you’re on!!

Step 3Get yourself the right equipment to ensure you will kick hind end on race day!

●     I recommend going to your local running store and getting fitted for the right Mizuno’s for you!

●     A good foam roller for your recovery workouts

Step 4Do a trial walk/jog/run of a 5K (3.1 mile).

●     This will help you determine where you are currently and to help you get a feel for the distance.

●     You do NOT have to jog or run the whole distance…I actually recommend walking it and then write down the time it took for you to complete it.

●     There are a slew of running apps for both apple and android that can help you track the time/distance to leave behind all the guess work.

●     After you complete the walk/jog/run trial of 3.1 miles, write that time down in your journal (and on your calendar on the date completed) with the initials of PR (Personal Record).

Step 5Begin training for that race you marked on your schedule and know that you’re going to conquer/beat the time you wrote in as your “Personal Record!”

●     Proceed to next section

Ready to tackle your first 5k? Use this training plan that includes a schedule for running, stretching, and everything else you need to know.

Training time!

You want to make a realistic schedule you can stick to when making your plan to train for the 5K race, which will be here before you know it.

I am going to help you make that plan!

Better yet, you can use this plan for just about any type of race/event because it’ll give you a solid base support you can always resort back to when “beginning again!”

You may be wondering what is involved within each workout (strength, cardio, flexibility, etc.) and how long should the workouts take you?

Each workout should look like this:

Warm-Up●     Activity:

○     Foam Rolling

○     Walking

○     Bicycling

○     Swimming

○     Elliptical/Precor

○     Dynamic Flexibility

●     Duration:

○     Usually lasts about 5 to 10 minutes (Depending on your goals & experience level).

Workout●     Activity:

○     Jogging

○     Running

○     Strength & Power Training

○     Speed & Agility Training

○     Sport Competition

●     Duration:

○     Usually lasts about 25 to 90 minutes (Depending on your goals & experience level).

Cool-Down●     Activity:

○     Stretching

○     Walking

●     Duration:

○     Usually lasts about 5 to 10 minutes (Depending on your goals & experience level).

 

Cardio Training:

We always want to have a strong heart and strong lungs to keep us in the race while remaining “upright” long enough to complete the whole 3.1 miles.  This is why we do cardiovascular training.

Because there are a lot of different ability levels, below are two types of 4-week programs that could help you slowly and safely improve cardiovascular fitness.  I have you doing 5 minute blocks and then repeating those 6 times which equals out to 30 minutes.

NOTE: Instead of thinking of “speed” when we walk, jog and/or run, I want you to think of “intensity.” Think of a ZERO as being equivalent to sitting in a chair completely relaxed and a TEN being equivalent to pushing a car uphill in snow.  ZERO is chilling out and a TEN is ridiculously hard.  Please remember, these (below) are just examples of gauging intensity.

  • Walking = Intensity of 0 – 3
  • Jogging = Intensity of 4 – 6
  • Running = Intensity of 7 – 10

Ready to tackle your first 5k? Use this training plan that includes a schedule for running, stretching, and everything else you need to know.

Beginner (example):

Week #MondayTuesday Wednesday Thursday FridaySaturday Sunday
1

Walk 4:45

Jog 0:15

(Repeat 6x)

OffWalk 4:45

Jog 0:15

(Repeat 6x)

OffWalk 4:45

Jog 0:15

(Repeat 6x)

OffWalk 4:45

Jog 0:15

(Repeat 6x)

2OffWalk 4:30

Jog 0:30

(Repeat 6x)

OffWalk 4:30

Jog 0:30

(Repeat 6x)

OffWalk 4:30

Jog 0:30

(Repeat 6x)

Off
3Walk 4:15

Jog 0:45

(Repeat 6x)

OffWalk 4:15

Jog 0:45

(Repeat 6x)

OffWalk 4:15

Jog 0:45

(Repeat 6x)

Off

Walk 4:15

Jog 0:45

(Repeat 6x)

4OffWalk 4:00

Jog 1:00

(Repeat 6x)

OffWalk 4:00

Jog 1:00

(Repeat 6x)

OffWalk 4:00

Jog 1:00

(Repeat 6x)

Off

 

Intermediate (example):

Week #MondayTuesday Wednesday Thursday FridaySaturday Sunday
1

Jog 4:00

Run 1:00

(Repeat 6x)

OffJog 4:00

Run 1:00

(Repeat 6x)

OffJog 4:00

Run 1:00

(Repeat 6x)

OffJog 4:00

Run 1:00

(Repeat 6x)

2OffJog 3:30

Run 1:30

(Repeat 6x)

OffJog 3:30

Run 1:30

(Repeat 6x)

OffJog 3:30

Run 1:30

(Repeat 6x)

Off
3

Jog 3:00

Run 2:00

(Repeat 6x)

OffJog 3:00

Run 2:00

(Repeat 6x)

OffJog 3:00

Run 2:00

(Repeat 6x)

Off

Jog 3:00

Run 2:00

(Repeat 6x)

4OffJog 2:30

Run 2:30

(Repeat 6x)

OffJog 2:30

Run 2:30

(Repeat 6x)

OffJog 2:30

Run 2:30

(Repeat 6x)

Off

The above examples are placed here for you to see a gradual increase in intensity (walking to jogging; jogging to running) and to see the days in between which are allocated to give the muscles of the legs rest.

 

Injury Prevention/Recovery:

If you have never seen a foam roller or even heard of one, it’s ok!  You want to get a foam roller to help you with muscle recovery and soft tissue restoration.  You can pick one up at your local running store or online.  I recommend the longer version (3-foot-long X 6-inch round) which will help you comfortably get into each position.  The shorter foam rollers are great for the veteran rollers and for portability.

When we do our flexibility (soft tissue restoration), we want to foam roll the tissue FIRST and then do our static stretch SECOND.  It would help tremendously if you did one muscle group at a time starting with the calve (lower leg); then progress upward to the upper leg.

Example(s):

  • Foam Roll Calves and then Static Stretch Calves
  • Foam Roll Hip Flexor and the Static Stretch Hip Flexor

As far as the acute variable when doing your restorative sessions (post walk/run and off days):

  • Foam Rolling
    • Slowly roll (1 cm per second) the entire length of the muscle
    • Stop on the PAINFUL spot and rest there for 30 – 90 seconds or until the pain subsides
    • Do not rock or pulse through the movement
    • Make sure you are breathing and stay relaxed
    • Do this 3 – 4 times then go to the static stretch exercise
  • Static Stretch
    • Slowly get into position and hold stretch for 30 to 60 seconds
    • Do not rock or bounce when in position
    • Make sure you are breathing and stay relaxed
    • Do this 2 – 3 times

Ready to tackle your first 5k? Use this training plan that includes a schedule for running, stretching, and everything else you need to know.

NOTE: Depending on your experience with foam rolling, stretching, etc, the acute variables would most likely need modified to accommodate your unique condition.  The variables above is just a quick reference for the general population.

Muscles to Foam RollSame Muscles to Stretch
Foam Roll – GlutesStatic Stretch – Glutes
Foam Roll – HamstringsStatic Stretch – Hamstrings
Foam Roll – CalvesStatic Stretch – Calves
Foam Roll – Hip FlexorStatic Stretch – Hip Flexor
Foam Roll – AdductorsStatic Stretch – Adductors
Foam Roll – TFL/IT-BandStatic Stretch – TFL/Hip Flexor
Foam Roll – Low/Mid BackStatic Stretch – Lats
Foam Roll – QuadsStatic Stretch – Quads

Never underestimate the power of “Chunking” when it comes to taking on something that seems huge by breaking it down into smaller bit size pieces!  Little by little, you will notice you are becoming a little stronger, lasting a little longer in the walk/jog/run workouts, less sore because of the TLC you are giving yourself in the recovery workouts and generally more excited about race day!

Lastly, have fun!

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