Running Warm-ups

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Running Your First 5K

Have you ever thought about running in a road race? Does that sound like something you would like to do but you think it’s too hard? The great news is that all it takes is determination and commitment (and a pair of running shoes), and in as little as six weeks you could be ready to finish your first 5K. All you need to do is open the door, set one foot in front of the other, repeat and you’re running!

5K stands for 5 kilometers, which equals 3.1 miles, and there are plenty of 5K races around the Valley. It’s a good choice for a first race because of its relatively short distance and because it is the most common race distance. You should have no trouble finding a 5K race in your area at most times of the year.

You can find a race calendar at Arizonaroadracers.com or in any local running store (Sole Sports, Roadrunners and iRun, to name a few). Choose one and register as soon as possible. In this way you will establish a commitment with yourself and that will hold you accountable to train. Ask a friend or a family member to join you. It’s always more fun when you train with someone and it’s another way to hold you accountable as well.

The 6 Week Training Program

This is a 6-week program designed to prepare you for your first race with minimal training. This program will allow you comfortably finish a 5K. It is not intended to run a fast 5K or to improve your speed; this program is general in nature. Feel free to make adjustments in order to accommodate scheduling conflicts, individual goals and rate of improvement.

The Workouts

All workouts in this plan are easy runs. They should be run at a pace that feels fairly comfortable. You should be breathing hard, but still able to carry on a conversation. If you are breathing so hard that you cannot talk, you are running too hard. If you can sing, you are running too easily. On the days calling for rest or cross training, you can rest totally or do some cross training. Cross training can be any activity other than running. You could go for a walk, swim, bicycle or do nothing. It is up to you.

Week 1

  • Monday: Rest. Rest is an important part of any training program. This program uses Monday as a rest day because Sunday is usually the longest run of the week. Adjust this to fit your specific schedule.
  • Tuesday: Run 1 mile at an easy “conversational” pace. If you cannot talk clearly, you are running too hard.
  • Wednesday: Run 2 miles at an easy pace.
  • Thursday: Rest, cross train or engage in a non-running activity.
  • Friday: Run 2 miles easy.
  • Saturday: Run 2 miles easy.
  • Sunday: Run 2 miles easy.

Week 2

  • Monday: Rest. This program uses Monday as a rest day, because Sunday is your longest run of the week. You can adjust this to meet your needs, but take off the day after your longest weekly run.
  • Tuesday: Run 2.25 miles easy. Add a quarter mile to your previous longest run. You will make gradual increases in mileage throughout the program.
  • Wednesday: Run 2 miles easy.
  • Thursday: Rest or cross train.
  • Friday: Run 2.25 miles easy.
  • Saturday: Run 2 miles easy.
  • Sunday: Run 2.25 miles easy.

Week 3

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: Run 2.25 miles easy.
  • Wednesday: Run 2 miles easy.
  • Thursday: Rest or cross train.
  • Friday: Run 2 miles easy.
  • Saturday: Run 2.5 miles easy. You make a .25 mile increase today.
  • Sunday: Run 3 miles easy. You’ll make another increase in mileage. You are almost running a full 5K distance, now! A 5K is 3.1 miles. Keep your pace nice and easy. You can work on speed in future races.

Week 4

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: Run 3 miles easy.
  • Wednesday: Run 2 miles easy.
  • Thursday: Rest or cross train.
  • Friday: Run 3 miles easy.
  • Saturday: Run 2 miles easy.
  • Sunday: Run 3 miles easy.

Week 5

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: Run 3.25 miles easy. Another increase in mileage here. One more to go.
  • Wednesday: Run 2 miles easy.
  • Thursday: Rest or cross train.
  • Friday: Run 3 miles easy.
  • Saturday: Run 2 miles easy.
  • Sunday: Run 3.5 miles easy. This is the final mileage increase in this program. You are now running .4 mile farther than the 5K distance. This will give you the endurance to easily complete the 5K race and will increase your confidence.

Week 6

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: Run 3 miles easy.
  • Wednesday: Run 2 miles easy. You will begin to taper after this workout, which is a gradual decrease in mileage. The purpose of the taper is to be sure that your muscles are well rested before you compete in the race.
  • Thursday: Rest or cross train.
  • Friday: Run 2 miles easy.
  • Saturday: Run 1 mile easy.
  • Sunday: Race Day. Have Fun!

Written by

Professional runner, former swimming world champion. Tere has an M.A. in Counseling and Sport Psychology and another M.A. in Education. Tere is currently training to run the marathon in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. When she is not training or taking care of her family (she lives with her husband and their 7-year-old daughter), Tere writes for several blogs and magazines including: Runner’s World, Women’s Health, Rockthefit.com and Terezacher.com among others, about expanding your limits and following your dreams. She also coaches new runners or anyone who wants to live a healthier lifestyle. Tere is living proof that you are able to achieve whatever you set your mind into. She is 41 years old, started running three years ago and is currently competing at the highest levels. Tere credits Arizona Pain Specialists for helping her get back to training completely pain-free after a back injury sidelined her for almost a year.

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