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Training for your first 5K

by Melinda Jennings on Thursday 6 September 2018

 

Right now you might be reading this and thinking that the idea of you running 5km seems impossible. Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s definitely not. 

If you can stick to a plan and put the effort in, it might be more achievable than you think. Not to mention, it’ll be incredibly rewarding when you do complete that 5K run.

Start with a goal

OK, we hear you, you’ve already got a goal – to run a 5K! But just having that goal without tying it down to an actual deadline kind of makes it pointless (or at least, way less likely to be achieved).

If you can find a 5km fun run in your area in the not-too-distant future, that’s perfect. It gives you something to train towards, and keeps you accountable to actually train for your first 5K. 

How far in the future you should set your goal really depends on your current fitness level. If you’re starting as a complete beginner and are used to being pretty sedentary, you can safely train towards your first 5K in 6-8 weeks. Just two months – that’s not so bad, right?  

Focus on time, not distance

When you first start running, especially with a specific distance in mind, it can be very easy to focus on the kilometres travelled. However, it’s much more effective to focus on the time you’re spending running.

A reasonably fit person should be able to travel a 5K in around 30-40 minutes, so if you can work on building up your strength and fitness to continually run for 30 minutes, you’ll cruise through your first 5K. When you’re tracking your exercise, commit to a 20 or 30 minute session, where you run as much as you can (and walk when you have to, obviously. We’re not monsters).  



Gradually build up your work outs

Rather than simply running for as long as you can and then walking, put into place a plan that allows you to gradually build up your walk/jog ratio. That might look a bit like this:

Week 1: Run 1 minute, walk 1 minute for 30 minutes
Week 2: Run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes for 30 minutes
Week 3: Run 5 minutes, walk 5 minutes for 30 minutes

And so on. 

Aim for 3 or 4 days of running each week, and within those days build your minute increments up by, say, 30 seconds at a time (so on Day 2 of Week 1 you’re running 1 minute 30 seconds, walking 1 minute 30 seconds, for example). 

Plan out rest days

This is an important point. Rest days allow for your body to rejuvenate, and lower the risk of you getting an injury.  

If you run every day without ever taking a break, you can exhaust yourself not only physically, but mentally. Nobody wants that. 

Consider joining a group of runners 

If you’re struggling for motivation to get out there, an accountability buddy (or a whole group of them!) might be the key. Join the Virgin Active Run Club or Calibration closet to you, and let the team enthusiasm (or shared griping) keep you focused as your train for your very first 5K.  


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