Training

Beginner 5km programme

This running programme is a great way to get you started if you are not a regular runner. It will help you increase your fitness even if you don't have an event in mind.

The programme sets out a schedule of running three times a week on the following days: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. You can train on different days depending on when you have time, but you should keep the recommended rest days between training.

Beginner 5km programme
  Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8
Mon Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day
Tues Run 1 minute, walk 2 minutes – repeat 6 times Run 2 minutes, walk 2-4 minutes – repeat 5 times Run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes – repeat 4 times Run 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes – repeat 3 times Run 7 minutes, walk 2 minutes – repeat 3 times Run 8 minutes, walk 2 minutes – repeat 3 times Run 12 minutes, walk 2 minutes – repeat 2 times Run 15 minutes, walk 1 to 3 minutes – repeat 2 times
Wed Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day
Thur Run 1 minute, walk 2 minutes – repeat 6 times Run 1 minute, walk 1 minutes – repeat 10 times Run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes – repeat 4 times Run 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes – repeat 3 times Run 7 minutes, walk 2 minutes – repeat 3 times Run 10 minutes, walk 2 minutes – repeat 2 times Run 12 minutes, walk 2 minutes – repeat 2 times Run 15 minutes, walk 1 to 3 minutes – repeat 2 times
Fri Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day
Sat Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day Rest day
Sun Run 1 minute, walk 1 minutes – repeat 10 times Run/walk 1 mile. Record your time here: Run 3 minutes, walk 1 to 3 minutes – repeat 5 times Run/walk 1 mile, and try to repeat. Record your time here: Run 8 minutes, walk 2 minutes – repeat 3 times Run 1 mile, then walk/run 1 mile. Record your time here: Run 2 miles. Record your time here: Run 2 miles, then 1 mile walk/run or 5km race. Record your time here:

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Training aims

Weeks one and two

The first two weeks of this programme give you time to develop an efficient and natural running style and get into the habit of exercising regularly for 30 minutes at a time. This is important, so don't be tempted to skip these weeks, even if they seem easy.

If the first week's schedule seems too easy, you could run for 90 seconds and then walk for 90 seconds. But don't push yourself any more than this: running flat out won't give you the aerobic development you are aiming for. You will find that six repeats are demanding enough and as long as you don't forget your warm-up and warm-down walks, these first two weeks will give you a good work out.

At the end of week two you should be into the routine of running and be able to keep up a good 30 minutes of effort at a time.

Your first measured mile challenge - measuring how fast you can run a mile (or, if you prefer, you could measure it in kilometres) - at the end of week two will probably be easier than you think. Start off with five minutes of brisk walking to warm up before you get to your start point. Then, when you are ready, start your watch and set off. You are not aiming to run the whole way. Try to follow the run/walk patterns you have been practising. Either run for one minute and walk for one minute, or run for two minutes and walk for two minutes, but keep the effort going - making sure that you get no than higher six to seven on your perceived effort level

At the end, note your time. Congratulations, you have just recorded your first mile time.

Don't forget to do at least five minutes of walking to warm down and then have a good stretch.

Pace management

Test your pace to track and improve your performance

 

In later weeks, you will build up to running two or three miles at a time as part of the measured mile challenge. At this point it's helpful to select either a circular mile-long course you can run laps of, or plan a route which you can break into one, two or three mile sections with some good reference points to use as markers.

Weeks three and four

At the end of four weeks of training you can compare your mile time with the one you recorded at the end of week two to see if you are getting quicker. By this point you should be noticing that you can keep running for longer and you should feel more comfortable while running.

For your mile run, try using a pattern that contains more running than walking, for example running for five minutes and then walking for one to two minutes and repeat. Afterwards, note your time. You should still have enough energy left to go round the course once more - use this mile to warm down. Over this second mile you should be steadily increasing the walking part of your routine while reducing your running, until the final five minutes of your second mile is finished by walking. Note your time again. You have now recorded your first two-mile time - well done!

Weeks five and six

Throughout weeks five and six, your running routines will start to contain more sustained running and a much smaller amount of walking. The walk/run splits you are using here represent excellent exercise sessions. If you are running for fun and general fitness, you can feel thoroughly satisfied with this level of training. Doing two or three of these sessions as a regular part of your normal weekly fitness regime is a great way to stay in shape.

The goal at the end of week six is to run one mile continuously. Remember to take it easy, with your perceived effort level at no more than six throughout, and record your time. The result should give you a good sense of achievement. Your time will give you a benchmark that you can use when working out how long it will take you to cover larger distances.

The next stage is simply teaching your body to sustain this pace for longer distances. Make sure you keep running at a steady pace and that you exercise at an aerobic level. You should be able to go straight on to completing a two mile run, completing your second mile with a combination of walking and running.

Weeks seven and eight

By this point, you have already done most of the hard work to improve your basic fitness level.

The aim of these final two weeks is to get you to the point where you can run two miles continuously. With a little extra effort, you could then extend this to cover a 5km event. By the end of week eight, you should be running for at least 20 to 30 minutes at a time, and will be able to look back at the progress you have made with a sense of achievement.

If you are training for an event and find that you have more time to get ready for it, why not double up, doing each week twice if you want to make the progression easier and be in top form for a 5km event. As you run more, feel free to experiment with your pace, taking the perceived effort level to seven to eight, where you feel you are breathing harder and your legs are getting a little heavy. You may only be able to sustain this for five minutes at first before taking a walking or slow jogging break, but you are now developing as a runner.

The walk/run routines you have used in the latter stages of training are an excellent way of getting out for regular exercise. They will really eat up the miles of any running event you may fancy trying out. It really is just a case of slowly building up the distance. Whole marathons have even been done in this way.