How many miles is a 5k? Your essential guide to running a 5k

How many miles is a 5k? Your essential guide to running a 5k


How many miles in a 5k? How to train for a 5k? What time should I be aiming for my first 5k? In my blog post this week, I answer these common questions about the 5k.

Whether you’re new to running or new to racing, the first step in your running journey will probably be a 5k.

In my opinion, it’s the perfect running distance as it offers a good mix of speed, endurance and pace.

At 3.1 miles, it’s not a race that you have to train weeks and weeks for, but I’d always suggest you have a base level of fitness before attempting a 5k.

If you’re a beginner runner, I suggest you run at least three or four times a week across a period of about three to four months before running your first competitive 5k race.

how many miles is a 5k

How many miles is a 5k

A 5k is 3.1 miles. There’s no doubt that a 5k is by far the most popular distance in the UK and worldwide.

Many runners choose it as their first race distance and go on to complete 10k, half marathon and marathon race distances.

How to train for a 5k

If you’re a beginner runner, the Couch to 5k programme is a really great way to slowly ease you into running.

The programme combines running and walking and normally lasts between 9 to 12 weeks depending on the training plan you go for.

By the end of the programme, you should be able to run for 30 minutes at a comfortable pace without stopping. This is a great place from which to grow and then go onto run your first 5k.

If you’re an intermediate to advanced runner and want to shave some seconds of your PB, there are many ways to run stronger and faster, such as speed workouts, hill repeats and interval training.

These are designed to make you a faster and stronger runner, and when combined with your weekly runs, they have the potential to reduce your race times substantially.

At the end of this post, you can find links to my free 5k training plans.

Related: 7 things you need to know about Couch to 5k before you start running

How to run a 5k

How fast you run completely depends on your running experience, fitness levels and your race goals.

To run a sub-30 minute 5k, for example, you will need to be able to run at a pace of 9:40 minutes per mile for the full 5l/3.1 mile distance.

If you’re a beginner runner and your goal is to run a sub-30 minute 5k, this is completely doable. Run at least 1km at 9:40 per mile then build your pace up from there.

To work out how fast you should be running to achieve an even faster time, use a pace calculator. Alternatively, use this simple method to work out your pace for a 5k and longer distances.

How to prepare for a 5k

Running a 5k is exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time, especially if it’s your first race.

All your hard work and training will prepare you for race day, but it’s natural to get pre-race jitters.

The best you can do is get a good night’s sleep and try and rest your legs in the 48 hours leading up to your race.

Eat well, stay hydrated and plan your morning before hand so you’re not running around like a headless chicken on the morning of the race.

Related: What to do before your first 5k race

How to warm up before a 5k

A warm up is essential for any race, whether it be a 5k, 10k., half marathon or marathon.

You need to get your heart racing and blood pumping before the race to prevent injury and loosen your muscles.

For a 5k, a 5-15 minute warm up should be fine. In the warm up, make sure you jog it out and include some dynamic stretches and running drills to get your body ready for exercise.

Related: 5 tips for running and surviving your first 5k

Where to run a 5k

There are plenty of ways to run your first 5k. Parkrun is a great way to experience your first 5k.

Held every Saturday morning at 9am across the country, you’re bound to find one that suits your needs.

Even better, they’re free and there’s no pressure to run fast so it’s a great event for beginner runners.

Race for Life holds 5k and 10k races throughout the year. You can find an up to date list of their races on their website.

Find A Race allows you to check the 5k races near you. also offers a directory of 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon races.

Related: What to expect at your first Parkrun


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