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How Long Does It Take to Train for a 5K?

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Updated March 20, 2014

Runners Legs in Race Werner Dieterich

Question: How Long Does It Take to Train for a 5K?

"I'm interested in running a 5K. How many weeks does it take to be ready to run a 5K?"

Answer: Your training time for a 5K race (3.1 miles) really depends on your current fitness level, your running experience, and your goals for the race. If you're an experienced runner who already runs a few times a week and you just want to run a 5K to evaluate your fitness level, then you could probably knock out a 5K this weekend. But someone who is basically sedentary or a runner who wants to achieve a personal best time would want to give themselves at least 6-8 weeks to prepare for a 5K.

Here's what to expect based on your starting point:

Beginner Runners
If you've never run regularly before, give yourself at least 8 weeks to get ready for a 5K race. You should plan on running at least three times a week in order to get prepared for the race. You may also want to incorporate 1-2 days of cross-training to help build your fitness and boost your injury resistance. Here are some 5k schedules for beginner runners:

5K Training for Beginner Runners: This eight-week training schedule is designed for beginner runners who want to run to the finish line of a 5K race. It assumes that you can already run at least one mile.

Beginner 5K Training for Run-Walkers This eight-week training schedule is designed for those who can run for five minutes at a time and want to build up to running for the entire 5K race.

Six-Week 5K Training Schedule: This six-week training program is geared toward beginner run/walkers who want to build up to running a 5K.

If you're worried that 8 weeks is not enough time to be ready for a 5k, you may have to try to "get started with running" program before you begin one of the 5K schedules. Here are a few total beginner schedules to try:
3 Weeks to a 30 minute Running Habit
4 Weeks to One Mile

Novice Runners
If you have a little more running and feel like you're past the beginner stage, you could be ready for a 5K in anywhere from 4-8 weeks. If you're looking to improve your time from a previous 5K, you may want to give yourself 6-8 weeks. Plan to run at least 4-5 days a week, with 1-2 days of cross-training.

5K Training Schedule for Advanced Beginners: This eight-week schedule is geared toward runners who can run 2 miles comfortably and can run 4 to 5 days per week. You may have never run a 5K before, but you're looking for a schedule that's a little more challenging than the 5K Beginner Schedule.

5K Training Schedule for Intermediate Runners: This eight-week schedule is geared toward runners who've already run some 5Ks and are looking to achieve a personal record (PR) in the 5K.

Advanced Runners
Most experienced runners who run regularly could finish a 5K any day of the week. But if you're an advanced runner and you want to run a strong 5K (maybe even a personal record), you should give yourself at least four weeks to get ready for it. You'll also want to dedicate 4 to 6 days a week to running, including one long run.

4-Week Intermediate 5K Training Schedule: This four-week schedule is for intermediate runners who currently run about 15 miles a week.

5K Training Schedule for Advanced Runners: This eight-week 5K training program is for advanced level runners. You should be running at least 4-5 days a week and are able to run at least 5 miles. This 5K training schedule is particularly useful to experienced runners who are hoping to run a personal best in the 5K.

More About 5Ks:


Also see:
How Long Does It Take to Train for a 10K?
How Long Does It Take to Train for a Half Marathon?
How Long Does It Take to Train for a Marathon?

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