5K Training Plan to Ace Your First Race

people running a marathon


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This article and training plan was written by expert running coach, Greg McMillan, from McMillan Running.

Running can help you lose that last 5 pounds, or take your fitness level up a notch or two. But for athletes relatively new to the sport of running, creating a training program can be daunting. Here's a program designed to help you get started—and help you get to the point where you should be able to run three miles by the end of the 10 weeks. All you'll need is a good pair of running shoes and maybe a stopwatch.

Why Follow a 5K Training Plan?

A 5K training plan not only teaches you how to eat up 3.2 miles, it also helps keep you motivated and engaged by incorporating a variety of workouts such as cross-training and rowing into the plan. Additionally, one of the main goals of a 5K training plan is to build your overall fitness. Cross-training and increasing your overall fitness means that you are less likely to get injured because you're not overtraining a specific area nor are you over-exerting yourself.

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How to Use the 5K Training Plan

It is important for runners of all levels to stick to running training plans, whether they're working towards a 5K, 10K, or marathon. This includes getting familiar with some of the jargon and learning how to evaluate your progress.

  • Cross-training: Cross-training incorporates a variety of other exercises, such as yoga, rowing, resistance training, and mobility, into your weekly plan. Cross-training increases your overall fitness and helps reduce injury. It is important to not skip these days.
  • Intervals: Although your ultimate goal with this plan is to crush a 5K course, intervals will play an integral part in getting you there. Intervals are short, intense runs that are repeated several times. There are small breaks between each interval.
  • Tempo run: Tempo runs are also called "threshold runs" because you run at a pace slightly below your current 5K threshold pace—approximately 25-30 seconds per mile slower. They help your body learn to run at a harder pace for longer.
  • Rest days: Just as our bodies need exercise, they also need rest. Rest days allow our muscles to restore and rejuvenate. They also help us from burning out during our training.
  • Time trial: Evaluating the progress that you made during your training is not always easy because you're performing different drills and exercises. Therefore, if you want to see how you're improving, you can always do a time trial. All you will need to do is choose the same distance every time and track your improvement.

woman using a rowing machine

5K Training Schedule

The cross-training programs featured in this 5K training schedule are provided by Hydrow. To access these trainer-led videos, shop Hydrow.

Week 1

  • Day 1: Rest day
  • Day 2: 30-min. jog
  • Day 3: Featured Hydrow Workout: Hip Pivot
  • Day 4: Steady pace intervals - 8-10 sets of 400m, 200-300m jog between sets
  • Day 5: Featured Hydrow Workout: Stress and Tension Release
  • Day 6: Active rest (or cross-training or 30-min. jog)
  • Day 7: Long run - 45-55 min.

Week 2

  • Day 1: Rest day
  • Day 2: 30-min. jog
  • Day 3: Featured Hydrow Workout: Resistance Row
  • Day 4: Steady state run - 20-30 min.
  • Day 5: Featured Hydrow Workout: Hip Opening Restorative Yoga
  • Day 6: Active recovery (or cross-training or 30-min. jog)
  • Day 7: Long run - 45-55 min.

Week 3

  • Day 1:Rest day
  • Day 2: 30-min. jog
  • Day 3: Featured Hydrow Workout: 80s Runner's Prep
  • Day 4: Goal pace intervals - 6 sets of 600m, 300-400m jog between sets
  • Day 5: Featured Hydrow Workout: Mobility for Running
  • Day 6: Active recovery (or cross-training or 30-min. jog)
  • Day 7: Long run - 55-60 min.

Week 4 (Down Week)

  • Day 1: Rest day
  • Day 2: 20-min. jog
  • Day 3: Featured Hydrow Workout; Cross-Training Row
  • Day 4: Sprint in place - 8-10 sets of 20 sec., 60 sec. jog between sets
  • Day 5: Featured Hydrow Workout: Steady Endurance Row
  • Day 6: Off (or cross-training or 30-min. jog)
  • Day 7: Long run - 50-60 min.

Week 5

  • Day 1: Rest day
  • Day 2: 30-40-min. jog
  • Day 3: Featured Hydrow Workout: Rowing for Runners
  • Day 4: Hill sprints - 6-8 sets of 60-75 sec.
  • Day 5: Featured Hydrow Workout: Stretching for Runners
  • Day 6: Active rest (or cross-training or 30-min. jog)
  • Day 7: Long run - 60-70 min. (increase to a fast pace for the last 10-15 min.)

Week 6

  • Day 1: Rest day
  • Day 2: 30-40-min. jog
  • Day 3: Featured Hydrow Workout: Setting Goals Row
  • Day 4: Medium pace intervals - 4-6 sets of 1,000m, 200m jog between sets
  • Day 5: Featured Hydrow Workout: Cardio Burn Row
  • Day 6: Active rest (or cross-training or 30-min. jog)
  • Day 7: Long run - 60-70 min. (increase to a fast pace for the last 10-15 min.)

Week 7

  • Day 1:Rest day
  • Day 2:30-40-min. jog
  • Day 3:Featured Hydrow Workout: Low Rhythm Power Warm-up
  • Day 4: Goal pace intervals - 4 sets of 800m, 400-500m jog between sets
  • Day 5: Featured Hydrow Workout: Post-Run Mobility
  • Day 6: Active rest (or cross-training or 30-min. jog)
  • Day 7: Long run - 60-70 min. (increase to a fast pace for the last 10-15 min.)

Week 8 (Down Week)

  • Day 1: Rest day
  • Day 2: 30-40-min. jog
  • Day 3: Featured Hydrow Workout: Power Marathon Row
  • Day 4: Tempo run - 10-20 min.
  • Day 5: Featured Hydrow Workout: Hip Opening Flow
  • Day 6: Active rest (or cross-training or 30-min. jog)
  • Day 7: Time trial - 1-1.5 miles at 5K goal pace

Week 9

  • Day 1: Rest Day
  • Day 2: 30-40-min. jog
  • Day 3: Featured Hydrow Workout: Cross-Training Row
  • Day 4: Sprint intervals - 6-8 sets of 200m, 400m jog between sets
  • Day 5: Featured Hydrow Workout: Bodyweight Hip Strength
  • Day 6: Active rest (or cross-training or 30-min. jog)
  • Day 7: Long run - 65-70 min. (increase to a fast pace for the last 10-15 min.)

Week 10

  • Day 1: Rest day
  • Day 2: 30-40-min. jog
  • Day 3: Featured Hydrow Workout: Low Rhythm Power Warm-up
  • Day 4: Goal pace intervals - 4 sets of 1,000m, 500-600m jog between sets
  • Day 5: Featured Hydrow Workout: Full-Body Mobility
  • Day 6: Active rest (or cross-training or 30-min. jog)
  • Day 7: Time trial - 1-1.5 miles at 5K goal pace

Hydrow offers several full-body rowing workouts that fall into three categories of intensity: Breathe, Sweat, and Drive. Tackle them individually or combine them for a dynamic cross-training program to help reach your running goals.

Training Tips

  • Get in the habit of doing a good warm-up.
  • Recovery is as important as the days you're running. Use your days off wisely. Spread out your days off. For example, if your schedule calls for two days off, don't take them on consecutive days.
  • Consider recruiting a friend, spouse, or family member as a running partner. Running is easier when done with a friend.
  • Don't overdo it! This is the classic mistake made by many folks when beginning a running program. Stick to the schedule, even if it seems a bit too easy at first.
  • Get into a routine. Like anything else, a beginner running program is easier if it becomes routine. Set aside a certain time each day that is designated as your running time.
  • You may experience some soreness. This is normal. However, if you experience sharp pain, it's best to stop. Proper rest might do the trick. However, if the pain ramps up again, consult a doctor.

How to Prepare for a 5K Event

One of the best things about running is that it does not take a lot of gear to get started. However, you will want to make sure that you're outfitted with the proper gear and fuel. Additionally, although we can't change the weather, we can be prepared for it. Take a look at some of the best running accessories, ways to fuel and hydrate on the go, and the items to make you comfortable when the climate is less than ideal.

Accessories

Fuel and Hydration

Outdoor Conditions

Want more of a challenge? Check out our half marathon training plan.

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