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How To Run Your First 5K

BY: The Running Channel
20 May 2023

If you’re planning on taking on your first 5K, we have top tips to help you get through this remarkable journey. Whether you’re completely new to running or looking to participate in your first organised race, this blog will guide you every step of the way.

Planning Your Training

Give yourself adequate time to train for the run. Depending on your fitness level, you’ll need at least 6 to 10 weeks of preparation. Expect to begin with a combination of running and walking. If you have a solid base level of fitness, you may be able to adapt to this in a couple of weeks. Remember, appropriate training will propel you to the finish line faster.

Choosing a 5K Run

There are a plethora of free 5K runs up and down the country to fit your timeframe. Parkruns usually happen every Saturday at 9 a.m. These events are free, fun, well-organised, and easy to attend. They’re not dominated by speedsters, so don’t worry if you don’t bag yourself a medal at the end.

Finding a Training Plan

Look for a training plan that suits your routine. There’s a myriad of options available online. When starting your 5K journey, many people utilise apps like Couch to 5K. The trick is to tick off those runs and keep progressing. You can also check out our video: Running Tips for Beginners for further guidance.

Setting Goals

Whether you wish to reach the end, run the entire way without walking, or have a specific time goal in mind, remember to bear your objective in mind when choosing a training plan. These plans may measure your runs in time or distance. For example, you might need to run for 5 minutes and walk for 2 minutes, or alternatively, run for a kilometre and walk for a kilometre.

If your plan involves tracking distance, you’ll need a GPS watch or a running app such as Strava or MapMyRun. However, if you’re looking to run for a specific time, a simple wristwatch will suffice.

Consistency and Balance

Avoid overloading yourself with too ambitious a plan, as it might lead to injuries or, worse, demotivation due to excessive difficulty. Conversely, don’t be too lenient on yourself. It’s crucial to challenge yourself without going overboard. Consistency is a key factor in successfully training for your first 5K. Most plans will have you running three times a week, so try to set your running days for the same days each week to form a habit.


Think about the reasons why you’re running this 5K. Whether you’re raising money for charity, running in memory of a loved one, or planning to tackle longer distances in the future, make a list of these motivating factors.

However, don’t lose motivation if you have a bad run or miss one altogether. We’re not elite athletes, and life can sometimes throw a spanner in the works. But if you’re consistently missing runs, it might be time to examine why.

Music and Mindfulness

If music boosts your motivation, create a powerful playlist with tracks that ignite your spirit. Alternatively, you might prefer an audiobook or a podcast during your runs. You could even try ‘quiet running’, where you listen to your footsteps, surroundings, and breathing to help you get in the zone.

Preparing for Race Day

When the day of your 5K arrives, you’ll likely be filled with both excitement and questions. Fortunately, organised races typically provide all necessary information in advance. Lay out your kit the night before to save precious energy on race day. Remember the golden rule:

nothing new on race day. Wear something that you’ve already tested and felt comfortable in during a training run to avoid issues like chafing or blisters.

The Run Itself

On race day, try to gauge the terrain and understand the course’s ups and downs. It’s vital to keep your excitement in check and not burn out your energy reserves too quickly. Aim to pace yourself right from the start and resist the urge to keep up with faster runners. If you maintain a steady pace, you might find yourself overtaking others towards the end – an undeniably satisfying experience!

However, don’t fret if you misjudge your pacing on race day. It’s a common occurrence and a learning curve for next time.

Support and Celebration

Having friends and family cheering for you on the sidelines can provide an invaluable boost to your morale. They’re also handy for capturing photos of your triumphant moments. Remember to smile; it will help you relax, and you’ll appear less tense in those photos!

After crossing the finish line, take a moment to relish the achievement of completing your first 5K. Perhaps treat yourself and your support crew to a post-race brunch as a reward for your efforts.

Congratulations on tackling your first 5K! We hope these tips will aid your journey, and do continue to check out The Running Channel for more beginner tips.



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