You can be ready to toe the line at a 5K race in just one month. Get started with this expert training guide.

By Teresa M. Howes,
February 28, 2014

Have you ever watched people cross the finish line of a local race and thought, "I could never do that?" Or are you an active walker, jogger, or runner who knows they can cross the finish line, but not sure on how to do it? With a little guidance and motivation, you can cross the finish line strong.

The 30-Days to Train for a 5K Challenge is the perfect tool to help you set your goal, work toward it, and reach it. Just follow this month-long training plan to help you get race-day ready.

Whether you're fitness newbie or gym rat, here's how to train for your first 5K.

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Getting Started


  1. Sign up for a local 5K.
  2. Recruit a training team. Running buddies can help you follow through on your goals. The more buddies you start with, the more likely you all are to finish together.
  3. Download and print your tracker. Record important training dates on your calendar.
  4. Join the Fun, Healthy, Fit Community for regular updates.
  5. Get social. "Like" the 30-Day Challenge Series on Facebook and follow @30_Challenge on Twitter.

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How to Train for a 5K

Many races are held on a Saturday or Sunday. If your race is on a Sunday, you'll start your training on a Saturday. If your race is on a Saturday, you'll start training on a Friday. Depending on your fitness level, your schedule will have you running and working out 4 to 6 days per week.

Mileage Days: On these days, you will walk or run the designated distance. On day one, you'll begin with one mile. By the end of the challenge you'll be completing 3 miles. A 5K is just over 3 miles, so you'll know that you can finish the race. The only variable will be how fast you go.

On these days, warm up for five minutes, do your distance at a pace you feel comfortable with, and then cool down for five minutes.

Cardio Cross-Training Days: Do this the day after your longer mileage day. This will aid in muscle recovery because you're allowing the muscles you need for running/walking to rest, but you're still moving and triggering other muscles to work.

Cardio cross-training examples: Stationary bike, swimming, elliptical, or rowing machine.

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Rest/Stretch/Strength-Training Days: These days are challengers' choice. Stretching and strength training are both important parts of your training plan. Strength training leads to stronger quadriceps and hamstrings, which creates healthier knees and decreases your chance of injury.

Add a yoga class to your schedule can help improve your flexibility and prevent injury.

Mandatory Rest Day: No matter how good you feel, it's essential that you take at least one full day per week to completely recover.

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Sign up for your next race.
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