Training For Your First 5K

A 5k run is a great way to get started in your running career. 5KM is 3.1 miles. Running and walking are great ways to get the recommended 150 minutes of activity per week. Doing 30 minutes of activity a day 5 days a week can help you keep yourself healthy.

What to Expect When You Start Running

For people who have done sports or keep themselves active on a regular basis running will be a nice addition to your routine. You shouldn’t see any major physical issues when you start running. If you do stop and rest and contact your doctor if the pain persists for more than 3 days.

For everyone that is new to running, you will feel some changes in your muscles as you get started. The best advice is to go slow and focus on consistency over perfection.

It is more important to listen to your body than it is to meet your run time or step count. An injury will set you back much further than a slow day will. Make sure to take rest days and walk when you need to.

Common places to feel tight and sore after your first run include your legs, feet, thighs, shins, knees, or ankles.

Shin Splints

If you are running on asphalt or concrete you may end up with something called Shin Splints. This is when there is a large amount of force on the bones in the large bone in your lower leg.

The best way to treat shin splints is to:

  • Rest
  • Ice your front shin
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication

Shin splints will usually go away on their own in 3 to 4 weeks.

Running Gear

Running is not considered a gear-heavy sport. You can complete a run with comfy clothes and a good pair of runners. The most important part is the runners.

Your runners should be made for running especially when you are doing longer distances. Flat shoes like Vans will cause you to increase the pain in your legs because there is no shock absorption and there is no arch support.

Arch support will help decrease potential injuries and help your foot hit the ground with less force than a flat rubber-based runner would.

Stretching Before and After Your Run

It is important to stretch before and after your run. Your muscles are contracted when you sit or don’t move for extended periods of time. A warm up is just that a time to warm up your muscles and prepare them for extra exertion.

A shift that is too quick from contracted to stretched muscles can cause injuries.A stretched muscle can handle the extra exertion better.

Dynamic Stretching

You should be doing dynamic stretching before every run. Dynamic stretching is when you do gentle repetitive movements that increase the motion and muscle length of the area you are stretching.

Static stretching is when you simply hold a body part at mild stretch for about 30 seconds. There is evidence that static stretching does not warm up the muscles properly for a run.

Recommended Stretches

  • Side lunge – Make sure your knees are in line with your feet and don’t let them extend over the feet. You should be able to see and wiggle your toes. Lean to the right and pulse then lean to the left
  • Arm swings – move your arms in a circular fashion forward as the circle gets bigger then switch them backwards in the same patterns
  • Standing Piriformis Stretch – While standing place one leg over your other knee and lower into a seated position, add a pulse to keep it dynamic
  • Bent knee forward swing – Bend the knee of one leg and swing it all the way back as far as you can then to your chest as close as you can to your chest
  • Straight leg lateral swing – kick your leg out to the side keeping your heel parallel to the floor

Make sure to do both sides to keep the stretch symmetrical and decrease the chance of injury to one side of the body. Each stretch should be done for about 30 seconds.

You should also stretch after you run to help slow the contraction of the muscles down and gradually decrease your heart rate.


Once you understand the gear you need to run and how to stretch to keep your injuries down it is time to start training. The best way to train is to get started and take it slow. Most running programs will suggest 3 days of running per week and atleast one day in between for rest.

It is important especially as a beginner not to run everyday. Make sure your muscles are getting rest. It should never hurt to run. If you have a pain taht persists for more then 3 days contact your doctor. Listen to your body and take your training slow. The recovery is just as important as the running is.

When you are running start by cycling your run between a run and walk. Start with a 30 second run and a one minute walk for 20 minutes. Your rest should be double your exertion time when you start out.

If this is too much simply start by walking and slowly add in short running bursts with extended walking time until you feel more comfortable.

Make Sure You Have a Goal

Goals will help you keep consistent. Without a goal it is easy to push off the work. Try and sign up for a race. If you arnt quite ready for that use an accountability partner and set a time and place to complete a run with or infront of them. That way you have a clear goal and timeline to work towards.

What’s a Respectable 5K Time?

The amount of time it takes you to run a 5KM will depend on your activity level prior to training. A good time for a 5KM run would be sound 25 – 30 minutes. Anything about 45 minutes would be faster then walking the 5 km.

If you are a little slower that is ok. The most important part is reaching your goal.

How long does it take to go from couch to 5K?

On average it takes about two months to train for a 5KM. Most training regiments are between 6 – 8 weeks. Some people with a higher activity level can complete their training in 4 weeks while it may take up to 10 weeks for someone with less daily activity.

If you want help with your training and your in the Carrollton area check out our class section and book a speed test or a one on one training session. Our speed specialists acn help you increase your speed and decrease your potential for injury by making sure your mechanics and body are moving in the correct way.

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