How to train for a 5k run

How to train for a 5k run

Amon Fearon - May 11, 2022

Are you thinking of running a 5k? It doesn’t matter whether you’re a regular gym-goer or a total beginner, running a 5k needs a certain level of cardio fitness and, of course, training.

If you’re looking to find out how often you should run to train for a 5k, what running clothes you’ll need and how to improve your performance, we’ve got you covered.

Can I run a 5k without training?

The ability to run a 5k without any training is entirely down to your cardio fitness level. If you’re already a very active person, you can probably run a 5k without any history of running, although, it isn’t recommended. Whereas if you’re new to a fitness regime or starting for the very first time, you shouldn’t ever try to run a 5k without proper training and build up.

If you attempt to run a 5k having done no practice at all, you’re likely to suffer an injury such as shin splints or ankle sprains. So, give yourself a couple of months to put together and stick to a 5k training plan to make meaningful and gradual progress.

How do you train to run for a 5k?

If you’re new to running or exercising in general, make sure to start slow. It’s all too easy to burn yourself out if you give in to that initial motivation and try to run every day. What you’re actually doing is putting your body and muscles under a lot of stress, which increases risk of injury and chips away at your willpower. Training for a 5k is easily done when you start small and work your way up.

How often you should run

Start by committing to running three or four days a week. This is an achievable goal that should feel a bit challenging at first. Introducing new habits into your life takes time and telling yourself you only need to run three or four times every week means you are far more likely to stick to it. Eventually, running will be a part of your regular routine but you’re going to need to put the effort in first.

Remember to switch up your pace

It's also important to mix up your running styles to improve your cardio fitness. One day, sprint in intervals to gradually increase stamina. The next day you might do a recovery run at a slower pace. Finally, make sure to add in one distance-focused run to challenge yourself on how far you can go. This combination of running styles prevents you from hurting yourself and promotes a healthy way of incorporating running into your routine. Always take time to warm up properly so your body is prepared for training.

Wear the right gear

Man running in orange Castore clothes

It’s easy to fall out of love with running if you don’t have the right clothing and accessories. Committing yourself to marginal gains in performance will help get you over the finish line - mentally and physically. The first staple in any runner's arsenal is a pair of specifically designed trainers. Everyday trainers don’t provide your feet with sufficient support or comfort, which is why you should consider going for a gait test before buying your running shoes. A gait analysis examines how you walk and run, then suggests the best shoes for your body.

Similarly, you’ll need some lightweight running clothes with unique performance fabrics that are sweat-wicking and breathable for maximum comfort. Wearing base layers can help to regulate body temperature on a run. Support this with a ¼ zip running top or waterproof jacket for colder weather. To improve blood circulation to the legs, you may want to invest in some compression leggings for running. Keep some hats and gloves for the winter and running shorts and vests for summer.

man in white 1/4 zip running gear

How long do I need to train for a 5k?

Fairly frequent exercisers can typically train for a 5k within four weeks. If you’re already a regular runner but usually run shorter distances, you may even be able to train for a 5k in just two weeks. However, if you’re totally new to running, you should expect to get there in about two months.

The Couch to 5k programme is incredibly popular for beginners, so make sure to check it out.

Can you train for a 5k on a treadmill?

We get it, the weather isn’t always great for a run. Or you may not want to run in the darker morning and nights during winter. So, does that mean you can train for 5k on a treadmill instead?

Simply put, yes, you can train for a 5k race on the treadmill. However, it’s important to remember to change the inclines and pace throughout each run. Most running machines in gyms will have a pre-set 5k run that automatically changes some settings for you to simulate a more realistic run.

While possible, it’s not a great idea to limit your training to a treadmill. They are specially designed to absorb the impact of your feet, which is great for preventing injury but doesn’t give your knees or feet any real training for the great outdoors. So, it’s important to get at least one or two runs a week outside on a mixture of terrains to get your knees in prime condition.

And there you have it, a brief guide to get going on your journey to 5k. Making athletes better is at the heart of what we do. Explore the Castore sportswear running range.