Steps to Take Before You Start Your 5K Training
This article assumes you have a good sense of your physical fitness and have already decided to run in a 5K road event.
Step #1 is to consult your physician. Feeling you’re reasonably fit is one thing, having your physician confirm it is another. You don’t necessarily need to schedule a physical just for the event, but you should talk to your doctor about it before beginning to train.
Consider whether you want to train solo or with help. The plan here is designed for you to train on your own, but you might also consider taking some classes or joining a running club.
Consider some “preseason” strength training. If your event is many weeks away, you have time to build up baseline strength, balance and stamina. Training Exercises for Running has techniques and tips for this type of training, and suggestions about how to transition to this (or another) run-focused training plan closer to the event.
Decide how to monitor your heart rate. You’ll do each type of running in this plan at a particular heart rate, so you need a way to monitor yours. The training heart rates you use vary, too, based on your age, fitness and other variables. To learn how to calculate your maximum heart rate (HRmax) for training, read the how to calculate your HR max section of our article on how to train using heart rate zones.
Heart rate functions are available on dedicated heart rate monitors and most fitness trackers. (For tips on choosing a model, read How to Choose a Fitness Tracker.) If you’re not interested in getting that technical with your training, you can also guesstimate your heart rate for each training pace by using a simple talk test:
- Easy run pace: 60–65% of HRmax or you can carry on a conversation as you run (or a soliloquy if you’re training solo).
- Long run pace: 70–80% of HRmax or you can speak sentences, but not tell long-winded stories.
- Threshold run pace: 85–88% of HRmax or you're only able to utter single words.
- Speed run pace: 90+% of HRmax or you’re only able to gasp or grunt, not speak.
- Interval training vs. continuous pace training: Do speed work and threshold work using a repeated set of intervals: running at the needed pace for a short period of time followed by a short period of rest (an easy jog or walk) to allow your body to recover. In contrast, do easy runs and long runs continuously at the required pace.
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