Five Steps to a 5K

Every year as spring rolls in, running outside always starts to sound like a better and better idea. Maybe especially now, with events canceled or postponed and concern about germs spreading (we see you, gym equipment), going on a jog outside sounds increasingly good.

Not a runner? No worries — give yourself a little bit of time and patience, and you can definitely get there. Even if you don’t sign up for an official 5K, you can challenge yourself on your own — or hold an unofficial race with a friend or two — at the end of your training period.

According to the Mayo Clinic, you can be ready for a 5K in just two months. Start now, and you can train throughout the spring and hit that 3.1-mile mark before the hot summer months come around. Ready, go!

Step 1

Make a plan! If you’re starting from scratch, start slow and easy — if you push yourself too hard right
off the bat, you could injure yourself. Don’t worry: You’ll build up to a higher capacity over time. Just be patient.

The Mayo Clinic has a great seven-week training schedule for beginners that you can print, put on your fridge, and check off as you go. There’s also the Couch to 5K plan online that lots of people love. 

Step 2

Set yourself up for success. This means figuring out a good warm-up to stick to each time (walking lunges, high knees, butt kicks) and remembering to stretch once your run is done. The first five minutes of your run should also be a brisk walk before you speed up, just so your body is totally warm and ready to go.

Step 3

Get out there, and do it! If you can establish a time of day that works best for you — right when you wake up in the morning, or after work and before dinner — you can more easily integrate running into your routine. And at the end of the day, it’s 30 minutes. Chances are, you can fit it into your life if you try!

Step 4

Start timing your mile pace as you gain confidence. This can be a way to motivate yourself to go a bit faster with each run. Even if you’re not looking to run your 5K as quickly as possible, noticing your progress over time (I can run farther in this 30-minute timeframe than I could two weeks ago!) will keep you going.

Step 5

Run your race, whether on your own or in an official setting. And whether you go solo, grab a friend, or have a racing number, make sure to treat yourself afterward. Maybe you’ll even be convinced to keep training (10K, we’re coming for you!).

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is an assistant editor at 425 magazine.
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