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Beginner Training Plan: 6 Weeks to a 5K

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Even if you've never run a step, you can build up to 30 straight minutes within 6 weeks! Follow this smart training plan.
Smart Running Routine: Beginners

Just starting? Try this! Don't worry if you've never put on a pair of running shoes. This program will get you up and running for at least 30 minutes straight in just six weeks, says Zika Palmer, an elite marathoner, exercise physiologist, and cofounder of ZAP Fitness in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. For each run, aim for a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) that feels like a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10 so you don't burn out too soon.

Week 1

Monday: Walk briskly for 1 mile. Run 2 minutes every half mile until you reach 3.5 total miles. Walk 0.5 mile.

Tuesday: Walk 3-5 miles.

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Walk 1 mile. Run 3 minutes every half mile until you reach 3.5 miles. Walk 0.5 mile.

Friday: Off

Saturday: Walk 3-5 miles, including 10 run/walk intervals (run 30 seconds, walk 1 minutes) in the last mile.

Sunday: Off

Week Total: 16-20 miles

Week 2

Monday: Walk 1.5 miles. Run 5 minutes, walk 5 minutes; do 3 times. Walk 1-2 miles.

Tuesday: Walk 3-5 miles.

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Repeat Week 1 Thursday.

Friday: Off

Saturday: Repeat Week 2 Monday.

Sunday: Off

Week Total: 18-20 miles

Week 3

Monday: Walk 1.5 miles. Run 10 minutes, walk 5-7 minutes, run 10 minutes, walk 5-7 minutes.

Tuesday: Walk 3-5 miles.

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Repeat Week 3 Tuesday.

Friday: Off

Saturday: Walk 1.5 miles. Run 10 minutes, walk 5 minutes, run 5 minutes, walk 5 minutes, run 10 minutes, walk 5-10 minutes.

Sunday: Off

Week Total: 16-20 miles

Week 4

Monday: Walk 1 mile. Run 3 minutes, walk 2 minutes; do a total of 10 times. Walk 5 minutes.

Tuesday: Walk 1 mile. Run 15 minutes, walk 5 minutes, run 15 minutes, walk 5 minutes.

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Walk 1 mile. Run 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes; do that 7-minute sequence 5 times. Walk 5 minutes.

Friday: Off

Saturday: Walk 1 mile. Run 10 minutes, walk 5 minutes; do that 15-minute sequence 3 times.

Sunday: Off

Week Total: 17.5 miles

Week 5

Monday: Walk 1 mile. Run 3 minutes, walk 2 minutes; do that 5-minute sequence a total of 10 times. Walk 5 minutes.

Tuesday: Walk 1 mile. Run 20 minutes, walk 5 minutes, run 20 minutes, walk 5 minutes.

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Walk 1 mile. Run 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes; do that 7-minute sequence 5 times. Walk 5 minutes.

Friday: Off

Saturday: Walk 1 mile. Run 15 minutes, walk 5 minutes; do that 20-minute sequence 3 times.

Sunday: Off

Week Total: 20 miles

Week 6

Monday: Walk 1 mile. Run 3 minutes, walk 2 minutes; do that 5-minute sequence a total of 10 times. Walk 5 minutes.

Tuesday: Walk 1 mile. Run 25 minutes, walk 5 minutes, run 25 minutes, walk 5 minutes.

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Walk 1 mile. Run 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes; do that 7-minute sequence 5 times. Walk 5 minutes.

Friday: Off

Saturday: Walk 1 mile. Run 20 minutes, walk 5 minutes; do that 25-minute sequence 3 times.

Sunday: Off

Week Total: 22.5 miles

You'll run for a total of 60 minutes (with two 5-minute breaks) during the Week 6 Saturday workout, and you should be able to run for 30 uninterrupted minutes without difficulty by the time you've completed this program.

Quick Tip

Run with a friend. If she's slower than you, focus on perfecting your stride by landing lightly on your heels, then rolling forward to push off on your toes. If she's faster, pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone one or two days per week will help you get stronger. Either way, distraction and conversation will help the miles fly by.

Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, September 2006.

 

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bzgrl2much wrote:

I started this yesterday. That first 4 miles was actually not bad. You spend more time walking then running. I feel it today, but not to the point where I'm uncomfortable. I can't wait to see the results in 6 weeks!

6/21/2012 08:48:11 AM Report Abuse
rebeccakellch wrote:

The Quick Tip on this article is HORRIBLE. You should NEVER land heel first. It is counter to your goals of moving forward. Watch video of world-class runners; they land mid-foot, not heel first. This advice will propel you to injury and pain. Do NOT follow it. http://www.goodformrunning.com/

1/27/2012 12:04:30 PM Report Abuse
thmbprnt wrote:

I LOVE this plan! Totally doable (4 yrs of running, couldn't get past 2 mi total) and the detail was great-you know exactly what to do each day. Better than other plans that just say to run some miles. Got a stopwatch for $10. No thinking involved, just start/stop the timer and do what you need to do. Greatly improved my confidence. I have run 3 mi straight several times now and completed a 5K in 31:11. Going to do the plan again, run the runs at a faster pace and get my 5K time under 30 min.

1/3/2012 12:43:36 PM Report Abuse
mskellybee1 wrote:

I hate running and I am amazed that this plan is actually working! I am on week 3 and doing this on a treadmill. I am amazed I can keep up with the schedule. If it is too hard, slow down. I "walk" at 4.0 and "run" at 5.0. It works! Consistency is KEY! Excited to see even more results! Quit complaining people, if it was easy we would've done it a long time ago. Just go.

6/16/2011 09:22:13 PM Report Abuse
christalasher wrote:

I've run on and off, but I can never push myself beyond my original schedule. Plus, the abundant "off" days will give me time to do weights without having to find an hour free twice a day. I'm gonna start it tomorrow. With Google maps and whatnot available for free, I think I'll be able to plot out mileage accurately enough. I usually go by minutes for when I run, but I'll time myself the first week and take averages.

3/27/2011 07:17:36 AM Report Abuse

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