Skip to Content

The ultimate 8 week beginner 5k training plan: Week by week plan + printable

Share

Many people underestimate training for a 5k, when in fact a lot goes into training and running a 5k, especially if you want to run it in a decent time.

This 8 week beginner 5k training plan is aimed at anyone who is looking to run their first 5k and would like further guidance and support.

The 5k is one of the most popular running distances in the world, with over 8.9 million completing a 5k in 2019 in the USA alone according to Run USA.

At 3.1 miles, the 5k is a really versatile running distance. Many runners use the 5k as a race test before going on to complete longer distances like the 10k and half marathon.

With events like Parkrun and Race For Life becoming ever-popular, the 5k is still very much in demand.

In this guide we’ll explore:

  • Who should complete this 8 week beginner 5k training plan
  • A breakdown of what’s included in the plan
  • What’s a good 5k time for a beginner?
  • 8 week beginner 5k training plan: Week by week
  • Tips for training for your first 5k

At the end of this guide you’ll find a handy infographic/PDF with a week by week breakdown of all the runs in the plan.

Ready?

Let’s jump in!

beginner 5k training plan

Who should complete this 8 week beginner 5k training plan?

This 8 week beginner 5k training plan is for you if:

  • You’ve recently completed a walking/running plan like my Couch to 5k training plan.
  • You recently started running and want to build up their running distance slowly and gradually, with the aim of running a 5k at the end of the 8 weeks.
  • You possess a good base level of fitness before starting this plan. In the first week of this plan you will be running for 1 mile. If you feel that this is too difficult in the first week, then consider completing my Couch to 5k training plan instead.

If you’ve read the above criteria and you feel this 8 week beginner 5k training plan is too easy for you, then check out my intermediate 5k training plan

What’s included in this 8 week beginner 5k training plan?

I’ve deliberately kept this 8 week beginner 5k training plan simple by only including only easy runs, walking and rest days.

Each week includes:

  • Three easy runs
  • Three rest days
  • One long walk at the end of the week.

Here is a breakdown of each activity:

  • An easy run is where you run at a comfortable pace where you are able to comfortably hold a conversation without getting out of breath. 
  • Rest days are important to allow your body to recover after each run and in between runs. Don’t be tempted to run every day of the plan as you could risk burnout or injury. 
  • Walking is a great way to build your endurance and stamina whilst not running and you should aim to walk for the period of time prescribed in this plan. You don’t have to walk fast – just walk at your normal speed. 

You’ll notice that I haven’t included a race at the end of this 8 week beginner 5k training plan. However, you can choose to include one if you want to. I recommend Parkrun as a good way to end this plan.

beginner 5k training plan

How long does it take to train for a 5k beginner?

There are many beginner 5k training plans out there ranging from 6 to 12 weeks.

You may be wondering: is 8 weeks enough time to train for a 5k? I believe 8 weeks is more than enough time to train for a 5k, especially if you’ve completed a programme like Couch to 5k before starting this plan.

If you feel 8 weeks is not enough time, there is the option to repeat a week should you need more training time.

What is a good 5k time for a beginner?

Whilst the focus of this plan is not running a 5k within a certain time, you may be wondering what is a good 5k time for a beginner.

Race times will vary depending on a number of factors, including age, weight, gender and running experience.

For example, if you’re a 35 year old female runner, the average race time is 37.21 minutes. Whereas if you’re a 40 year old male runner, the average race time is 32.36 minutes.

Of course, there are many situations where runners do achieve faster race times compared to the national average.

There’s by no means any pressure to complete your first 5k within a certain time, it’s worth taking these average 5k race times into consideration when completing your first 5k run.

8 week beginner 5k training plan

The ultimate 8 week beginner 5k training plan
Week by week plan

Here is a week by week breakdown of the training plan. At the end of this guide you will find my 8-week 5k training plan PDF.

Week 1

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 1 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – Rest day
  • Thursday – 1 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – 1 mile easy run
  • Sunday – 30 minute walk

Week 2

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 1.5 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – Rest day
  • Thursday – 1 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – 1.5 mile easy run
  • Sunday – 35 minute walk

Week 3

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 2 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – Rest day
  • Thursday – 1.5 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – 2 mile easy run
  • Sunday – 40 minute walk

Week 4

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 2.5 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – Rest day
  • Thursday – 1.5 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – 2.5 mile easy run
  • Sunday – 45 minute walk

Week 5

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 2.5 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – Rest day
  • Thursday – 1.5 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – 2.5 mile easy run
  • Sunday – 50 minute walk

Week 6

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 2.75 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – Rest day
  • Thursday – 2 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – 2.75 mile easy run
  • Sunday – 50 minute walk

Week 7

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 3 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – Rest day
  • Thursday – 2 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – 3 mile easy run
  • Sunday – 55 minute walk

Week 8

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 3 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – Rest day
  • Thursday – 2 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – 3 mile easy run
  • Sunday – 60 minute walk

5k training plan beginner 8 weeks infographic:

Here is my 5k running plan for beginners PDF:

beginner 5k training plan

Tips for training for your first 5k

Before you start the plan, here are some tips for running a 5k:

  • Remember to warm up before each run. This will prepare your body for the run ahead and will reduce the risk of injury. Dynamic stretches and running drills are good exercises to include in a warm up.
  • Remember to cool down after each run. This will help to alleviate any post-run muscle soreness.
  • It’s important you use the rest days in this plan to do precisely that – rest! Don’t be tempted to over train or run on your rest days as you may risk burn out.
  • Many runners like to do cross training activities like yoga, cycling and swimming to complement their running, but these are very much optional in this plan. Your main focus should be on completing the runs.
  • If you struggle with running motivation, then running with a friend or running in a group is a great way to become accountable for your runs.
  • Running is as much a mental challenge as it is physical. Be sure to check out my guide on mental strength when running for more tips and advice.

Related: How to warm up properly before a 5k race

More 5k running tips:

Additional resources

Share

liza

Thursday 2nd of December 2021

Well written, it was very useful to read the article, because I love running and I love to read about it because you can always read something interesting.

liza

Thursday 2nd of December 2021

Great article, I was very interested to read it, because I love running and love to read about it.