How much do I need to train to be able to run your first 5-K race?  Some individuals who possess a reasonably good level of fitness (because they bicycle or swim or participate in other sports) could probably go out and run 3 miles on very little training. They might be sore the week after the race, but they still could finish.  But if you've made the decision to run a 5-K race, you might as well do it right. This is an eight-week training schedule to help get you to the finish line. It assumes that you have no major health problems, are in reasonably good shape, and have done at least some jogging or walking.



The most important day in any beginning or intermediate running program is rest. Rest days are as vital as training days. They give your muscles time to recover so you can run again. Actually, your muscles will build in strength as you rest. Without recovery days, you will not improve.



Put one foot in front of the other and run. It sounds pretty simple, and it is. Don't worry about how fast you run; just cover the distance--or approximately the distance suggested. Ideally, you should be able to run at a pace that allows you to converse comfortably while you do so. This isn't always easy for beginners, so don't push too hard or too fast.



This is a combination of running and walking, suggested for those in-between days when you want to do some running, but only some. There's nothing in the rules that suggests you have to run continuously, either in training or in the 5-K race itself. Use your own judgment. Run until you begin to feel fatigued, then walk until recovered. Run. Walk. Run. Walk. Another option for in-between days is to do some cross-training: biking, swimming or just plain walking. You get a little exercise, but not so much that you are fatigued for the next day's running workout.



Walking is an excellent exercise that a lot of runners overlook in their training. In the training schedule below, we suggest that you go for an hour-long walk on the day after your longest run. Don't worry about how fast you walk, or how much distance you cover. Take time to stop and sniff the flowers or enjoy a scenic view. Not all training should be difficult. If a 60-minute walk seems too much at first, begin with about 30 minutes and add 5 minutes a week until you reach 60 minutes.The 8-week novice training schedule is only a guide. Feel free to make minor modifications to suit your work and family schedule. The progression below suggests adding a quarter-mile to most runs each week. That's one lap on most outdoor tracks. If you train on the roads, or on trails, it's more difficult to measure precisely how far you run. So don't worry about it. Approximate the distance. Feel free to make minor modifications to suit your work and family schedule.




Even for seasoned racers, the days before a race can be stressful. With all the hope and hard work that you’ve invested in your goal event, you want to arrive at the starting line feeling calm, healthy, and ready to run your best. Here are a few reminders to keep you on track in the critical days and hours before the starting gun fires, and to help you recover after you cross the finish line.


The week before the race

o   Stop stressing. 5Ks are hugely positive community events. You get to spend a morning with strangers cheering you on, feeding you and offering water, and celebrating doing something healthy for yourself. Everyone fears that they’ll be last, but don’t worry. In all likelihood, you won’t be. People with a very wide range of abilities and levels of fitness do 5Ks, and many people just go to walk them from start to finish.

o   Cover the route beforehand. If you can, work out on the route where the race will take place so you can get familiar with where you’ll need to push and where you can cruise. Finding the race start beforehand will prevent you from getting lost on race morning!

o   Eat what works for you. Your best bet is to eat whatever has worked best for you—that’s given you a boost without upsetting your stomach—during your regular weekday runs. Don’t eat anything heavy within two hours of the race. A smoothie containing fruit and yogurt is always a good choice because it gives you a good balance of carbs and protein but not too much fiber (which could cause GI distress).

o   Get ready the night before. Lay out your gear and get as much sleep as possible- aim for eight hours.


The days before the race

o   Don’t do anything new. Race week isn’t the time to try new shoes, new food or drinks, new gear, or anything else you haven’t used on several workouts. Stick with the routine that works for you.

o   Get off your feet. In the days before you race, try to stay off your feet as much as possible. Relax, and leave the lawn mowing or shopping or sightseeing for after the race.

o   Graze, don’t chow down. Rather than devouring a gigantic bowl of pasta the night before the race, which could upset your stomach, try eating carbs in small increments throughout the day before the race.

o   Put your hands on your bib. The night before the race, lay out your clothes, and if you have your bib, fasten it on. That’s the one thing you need at the starting line. Don’t show up without it!


Race day

o   Limit your sipping. Yes, you need to stay hydrated, but no major drinking 30 minutes before the gun; sip if your mouth is dry or it’s particularly hot out. Some athletes will take a mouthful and use it as a rinse and spit. Your best bet is to stay hydrated throughout the day. Aim for half your body weight in ounces. So for instance, if you weigh 200 pounds, aim for 100 ounces of calorie-free fluids like water each day. If you weigh 160 pounds, aim for 80 ounces per day.

o   Arrive early. Get to the race at least one hour before the start so you’ll have time to pick up your number (if you don’t already have it), use the porta potty, and warm up. You don’t want to be running to the starting line.

o   Identify yourself. Put your name, address, cell phone number, bib number, and e-mail address clearly on your race bib, or better yet, use a RoadID, which you can wear on your wrist or shoe.

o   Bring a trash bag. A heavy-duty trash bag can provide a nice seat so you don’t have to plop down on wet grass. If it’s raining at the start, you can use the trash bag as a raincoat.

o   Bring extra tissue. The only thing worse than waiting in a long porta potty line is getting to the front and realizing that there’s nothing to wipe with.

o   Don’t overdress. It will probably be cool at the start, but don’t wear more clothing than you need. Dress for 20 degrees warmer than it is outside. To stay warm at the start, you may want to bring (expendable) clothes that you can throw off after you warm up.

o   Set at least two goals. Set one goal for a perfect race and another as a backup in case it’s hot, it’s windy, or it’s just not your day. If something makes your first goal impossible halfway through the race, you’ll need another goal to motivate you to finish strong. And it’s best to set a third goal that has nothing to do with your finishing time. This performance goal could be something like finishing, running up the hills rather than walking them, or eating the right foods at the right time and successfully avoiding GI distress!

o   Fix it sooner, not later. If your shoelace is getting untied, or you start to chafe early in the race, take care of it before it becomes a real problem later in the race.

o   Line up early. You don’t want to be rushing to the starting line, so don’t wait for the last call to get there.

o   Start slow, and stay even. Run the first 10 percent of the race slower than you normally would, with the idea that you’ll finish strong. Don’t try to “bank” time by going out faster than your goal pace. If you do that, you risk burning out early. Try to keep an even pace throughout the race, and save your extra energy for the final stretch to the finish.


After the race

o   Keep moving. Get your medal and keep walking for at least 10 minutes to fend off stiffness and gradually bring your heart rate back to its resting state. Be sure to do some postrace recovery stretches to stretch out your legs, back, and hips.

o   Refuel. There are usually snacks at the finish line, but what the race provides may not sit well with you. To recover quickly, bring a snack with a combination of protein to rebuild muscles and healthy carbs to restock your energy stores. Consume it within 30 minutes of finishing the race. You might try a sports recovery drink, energy bar, or other packaged food that won’t spoil, spill, or get ruined in transit.

o   Get warm. Change out of the clothes you ran in, and get into dry clothes as soon as possible. After you cross the finish line, your core temperature will start to drop fast, and keeping sweaty clothes on will make you cold.

o   The next day, get going. As sore as you might feel the day after the race, it’s important to do some sort of nonimpact activity like swimming, cycling, or working out on the elliptical trainer. The movement will increase circulation to your sore muscles and help you bounce back sooner. Just keep the effort level easy.


The 6 Best Exercises for New Runners


The most important exercise you can do as a new runner is, of course, running. But your risk of injury will go down--and your enjoyment of running will go up--if you take a few minutes a day to stretch and strengthen key parts of your body. Here are simple exercises that will help you run more smoothly and efficiently.


1. Calf Stretch


Goal: Increase the flexibility of your calf muscles and Achilles tendon.

Why: Running takes your lower legs through a fuller range of motion than most other activities. Better flexibility in your calves and Achilles tendons will allow you to push off more forcefully and lower your risk of straining these muscles or tendons.

How: Sit with your legs in front of you, straight but relaxed. Place your hands or a rope or towel wrapped around the ball of your foot. Contract your shin muscles to pull your toes toward your shin. Keep the top of your ankle loose so that you feel the stretch in your calf muscles and Achilles tendon. Exhale into the stretch, and hold it for 2 seconds. Lower your foot to the start position, and repeat. Do 10 stretches for each leg.

When: Like most non-dynamic stretches, this is best done after your run.

Consider: You'll need to be diligent about calf and Achilles flexibility if you're a new runner who has worn high-heeled shoes for many years. Try walking around your house barefoot or in socks to help lengthen your calf and Achilles.


2. Hamstring Stretch


Goal: Increase the flexibility of the large muscles that connect your butt and knees.

Why: Good running form entails using the large, strong muscles along the backs of your legs to propel you forward. But because of tight hamstrings, many runners overuse their quads, the muscles along the front of their legs, to more lift themselves up and down instead of flow along smoothly.

How: Lie on your back with one foot flat on the floor. Wrap a rope or towel around the ball of the other foot, and keep that leg straight. Contract the quad of the leg you're stretching, and bring the sole of that foot toward the ceiling or sky. Use the rope only to guide the motion, not to pull the leg. Raise the leg until you start to feel a comfortable stretch in your hamstring, then lower. The whole movement should take only a few seconds. Do ten stretches on each leg.

When: Stretch your hamstrings before you run, especially if you're running first thing in the morning or after you've been sitting for a while. A few times a week, also stretch them after you run. This second bout of stretching will help lengthen the muscles while they're warm.

Consider: Sitting at work and driving wreak havoc on hamstring flexibility. If your life involves a lot of sitting, try to get up and move around every hour.


3. Squats


Goal: Improve strength and mobility in your hips and glutes.

Why: Core strength means a lot more than having strong abs. Your real core strength resides in the large muscles of and around your hips. Strong hips and butt muscles that can move fluidly through a wide range of motion play a big part in having good running form. Also, having strong hips has been linked to having fewer running injuries elsewhere, such as in the knees, because your legs stay better aligned as your feet land and roll through to toeing off.

How: Stand with your hands behind your head and your feet pointing straight ahead. Keep your back "set" but relaxed; don't let your upper body slump forward. From your hips, squat toward the ground while keeping your knees positioned over your feet and your chest positioned up. Go down only as far as you can while maintaining good form (long torso, knees aligned over feet). At your bottom position, drive back up using your hips and glutes. Start with two sets of 10, and work up to three sets of 25.

When: Set aside two to three days a week for a strengthening exercises, including squats. This can be either after you've done an easy run, or if you have a short block of time somewhere else in your day. If you do your strength exercises at a time other than after a run, precede them with some easy stretching and a little walking to warm your muscles.

Consider: If you have a history of lower-back or knee problems, don't squat lower than your thighs parallel to the ground.


4. Double-Leg Pelvic Tilt


Goal: Have a flexible lower back that remains level when you run.

Why: By some measures, more than 70% of American adults have lower-back pain at some point. For runners, imbalances and tightness in the lower back can tilt the pelvis and pull on the glutes and upper hamstrings, setting off a cascade of dysfunction that can lead to injury anywhere from hip to foot.

How: Lie on your back. Begin with both knees bent and feet flat on the surface on which you're lying. Place your hands behind your knees/thighs to prevent pressure on the knees and provide a little assistance toward the end of the movement. Using your abdominals and quadriceps, lift your legs toward your chest until you can go no farther. Gently assist with your hands, but do not pull. Hold the end range of motion for 1.5–2 seconds and return to the start position. Perform eight to 10 repetitions per set.

When: As with the hamstring stretch, this is best done before running, to help you start your run with good form. And as with the hamstring stretch, if you frequently also do it after you've run, over time you'll see significant improvements.

Consider: This exercise is a must-do for runners who sit for long stretches of time.


5. Planks


Goal: Improve your ability to run "tall."

Why: It's common for runners, especially when they tire, to bend forward at the waist. Doing so means you have to work harder to overcome gravity, and it causes your back and upper-leg muscles to overcompensate in an effort to keep you more erect. The result: You run slower, but with greater discomfort, than if you were to keep a better upper-body position. Planks increase your ability to maintain a tall, relaxed posture when running.

How: Get in a pushup position, except your body weight should be resting on your forearms instead of your hands. Push your body to the "up" position, tighten your stomach, and keep your shoulders, back, buttocks, and heels in a straight line. Hold for 30 seconds (or less if you start to shake or feel your lower back buckling). Rest briefly by sitting on the ground, then resume the plank position and hold for another 30 seconds. Over time, work up to holding the position twice for one minute each time.

When: You can do planks every day, but you'll want to do them at least three times a week to start to see benefits. After an easy run is a good time.

Consider: Because they engage your entire abdominal area, planks are more time-efficient than crunches or other ab exercises that target more specific areas.


6. Dips


Goal: Run with your shoulders aligned over your hips rather hunched forward.

Why: Good running form entails a straight line from your feet through your hips on up to your shoulders and head. Many runners, however, hunch forward in the upper back and shoulders. Doing so unnecessarily tired your shoulders, arms and neck, restricts your breathing, and detracts from smooth movement in your hips and hamstrings. Dips are a simple way to strengthen the muscles of your upper back so that you can more easily hold good running form.

How: Place your palms on the edge of a chair or other steady surface of a similar height, facing away from the chair. With your legs straight and your upper heels on the ground, lower yourself until your arms are bent at a 90-degree angle, then raise yourself back up. Maintain as straight of a line as you can from your chest through your feet. Start with 10 dips (or fewer if you can't maintain good form for 10). Work up to two sets of 20.

When: Do dips on the days you do squats and planks.

Consider: If you spend a lot of time bent staring at a phone or working on any sort of screen, take breaks throughout the day to loosen and realign your shoulders. While standing tall, roll your shoulders from front to the back at least 10 times, taking note of what it feels like to have your shoulders low and level.


Source:  runnersworld & trainingpeaks