5K Training Plan

Are you new to running, or perhaps returning to running after a break from fitness training? Beginner or not, completing a 5K race is a great way to get into running. There are hundreds of 5K events happening all over the UK, which is great news for fundraisers and fitness enthusiasts alike!

At the start line training for a 5k run

Whatever your reason for running a 5K, your best chance of preparing for race day is by following a training plan. Although a 5K is a relatively short distance at 3.1 miles, it is still important to train beforehand, not only to help you improve your running time and fitness levels but also to avoid injuries before you cross the finish line. 

How long does it take to train for a 5K?

In honesty, this will vary from person to person. You’ll need to consider a few factors such as your current fitness level, your goals (whether you’re aiming to beat a certain time or just cross the finish line) and of course, how much time you actually have before race day to train.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced runner, there are a number of training schedules you can follow to help you build up to your race. The number of weeks covered in a training plan will usually determine how much you can expect your fitness level and running time to improve before your event. For example, if you only have a couple of weeks to train you probably won’t have enough time to transform into the next Usain Bolt!  

A training plan can help to keep your training fun and engaging, as well as increasing your fitness level. Below, we explain some of the different 5K training programme lengths and what you can expect to achieve by following one.

The ultimate 5k run guide

Training for a 5K in 4 weeks

As we mentioned before, 4 weeks probably won’t be enough time to make any radical transformations to your fitness level, especially of you are new to running, but it should be enough time to build up your confidence with running for longer periods of time. 

Being a fairly short amount of time, a 4 week training plan will assume that you can already run for around 5 minutes or more comfortably. The training plan will start you out with 3 training sessions a week of around half an hour, which will consist of a combination of running and walking. The following weeks will focus on incorporate more time focused on running and fewer minutes of walking in between. Although it is recommended for total beginners to spend more than 4 weeks training, if you are running out of time before your race it is best to focus on building up your distance rather than your speed, and aim to train at least 3 times per week, whether running, walking or doing a combination of both.

Training for a 5K in 6 weeks

If you have 6 weeks to go before your 5K, you have a good amount of time to build up your fitness before you take on that 3.1 mile run – even if you are a total beginner. As with most training programmes, a 6 week programme will start out with easier runs, with intervals of running and walking, and build the length of running time and distance over the 6 week course. By the end of the training programme you should be able to run comfortably for 30 minutes.

Once you have crossed the finish line of your first 5K you may then want work on your speed, and maybe even aim to complete the whole 5K run in 30 minutes. If you are an intermediate or more experienced runner, already running several times a week, following a 6 week plan should help you to focus your training, if you feel that you need more of a challenge you could incorporate more uphill runs into the plan.

Training for a 5K in 8 weeks

If you have 8 weeks to spare before you lace up your running shoes on race day, you’ll have a good amount of time to train, especially if you follow a structured plan! An 8 week plan is designed to build you up from slower run walk workouts to comfortably completing a 5K course, even If you are just starting out with fitness and currently don’t run at all.

If you are a more experienced runner, you might find the pace and increase in intensity over an 8 week period to be a little slow. Adjust the training plan to be more challenging by varying your pace or adding in intervals where you run at a fast sprint for a few minutes at a time. Doing hill sprints will also have the effect of strength training and make for a more challenging workout.

Training for a 5K in 10 weeks

10 weeks is ample time to get yourself up to speed with running a 5K! For a total beginner you have enough time to build up from walking and jogging for short periods of time, to being able to run over 3 miles without stopping. For more experienced runners hoping to achieve a new 5K personal best, 10 weeks will give you plenty of time to work on your pace and shave off those all important seconds.

The initial weeks will focus on building up your running distance with shorter, easier runs with periods of walking, and then build up the distance you cover each week. Towards the end of the 10 week programme you should be able to complete steady runs for at least 30 minutes. You may also be looking at increasing your speed and challenging yourself to lower your average running time by the end of the programme.

Round up

Generally, the earlier you can start training the better – especially if this is your first 5K race. Before you begin any new training plan it is best to seek advice from a qualified medical professional. Once race day comes around, make sure to pace yourself throughout the course and drink plenty of water.


If you are looking for your next 5k run, take a look at our event listings to find the perfect event for you - 5k Run Listings

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Why run a 5K?

For anyone looking to start their fitness journey, whatever your age, training for and taking part in a 5k race is a great place to begin. If you’ve never ran competitively before, a 5K run is probably the best way you can start your adventure, as you will experience something that is challenging, but not too tough. Even with just a few weeks of training you should be able to pull off a 5K run.

Aside from being a great way to keep active, there are plenty of other great benefits to running a 5K too. Firstly, if you’re looking to lose some weight through exercise, running a 5K is a great way to start increasing your heart rate and burning those calories. Another reason to sign up to a 5K race is that it’s a great way to raise money for a good cause, with plenty of charity 5k runs taking place near you and across the UK all year round. Finally, running your first 5K is a great way to get into longer distance running. Once you’ve caught the running bug you’ll soon be progressing on to 10K, half marathon and eventually marathon races!

5k Runs Near Me

Whilst there are plenty of high-profile running events taking place in the larger towns and cities in the UK, there are also plenty of opportunities to join a 5K run closer to home too. There are a number of 5K events springing up across the UK all the time, meaning that there is bound to be one that is easy and convenient for you to get to.

Another great benefit of running a local 5K is that it’s easier to get your friends and family involved too, whether they choose to run alongside you or cheer you on at the finish line. We list lots of 5K running events that take place all over the UK, so be sure to take a look for 5K runs near you using the search bar on the left. You can then filter races based on location and other options to find the perfect event for you.

Charity 5k runs near me and fundraising

As we’ve mentioned, running a 5K is a great way to raise some money for charity, and the race is a great length for people of all ages to get involved. As well as the well-known races, such as the Great Run series, there are a number of smaller events for people to get involved in too, and in fact many, many charities hold races throughout the year with the sole intention of raising money to help people.

Fundraising for a 5K is really easy to set up too. Many charities will provide you with a sponsor pack to get started once you sign up for a race, and you can also fundraise online and share your goals with your friends on social media. Running a 5K race near you is also a great way to show your support for locally based charities.

5K Charity races, as well as 10K Charity races, are some of the most popular events out there, so if you want to get into running then these are a great place to start!

How can I find charity 5K races near me?

So, if you’ve decided to take part in a 5K race to raise money for a charitable cause you may be wondering ‘How do I find a 5K near me?’. The answer is on our site! On our events page, you’ll find all sorts of fitness events that are happening all over the UK. The search bar on the left of the page can be used to help you find the perfect event. Once you’ve narrowed down the type of race you’re looking to take part in, a 5K in this case, you can then further refine the results by selecting your location and then choosing from a range of charities that you are interested in supporting.

If you’d like to support a charity that isn’t listed, you’re welcome to do that too! Be sure to check the website of your chosen charity to find out more about getting started with fundraising.

Most popular 5k races in the UK

As we’ve mentioned, as well as smaller, local 5K events, we also list some of the best known and loved event series on our site too. Our most popular searches include:

Royal Parks

The Royal Parks is a charity that looks after London’s largest green spaces such as Hyde Park, The Green Park, Richmond Park, Greenwich Park, St James’s Park, Bushy Park and The Regent’s Park, and Kensington Gardens. The Royal Parks running series takes runners through these beautiful green spaces with events ranging from 5K races to marathons.

London 5k Runs

London may be well known for its annual marathon, but did you know there are loads of 5K runs to sign up to in the capital too? We’ve got plenty listed on our events page so be sure to check it out!

5k Inflatable Run

If you’re looking to turn up the fun factor, an inflatable 5K run could be the right race for you. With an inflatable 5K race, you won’t just be running, you’ll be bouncing, jumping and springing your way to the finish line through a series of inflatable obstacles. These events are great for thrill-seekers!


Related Posts

Are you looking for some more information or advice about running a 5K? We’ve got plenty of informative articles in our blog that will tell you everything you need to know to get started. We’ve also got tips for training, burning calories through running and improving your race time. Get started with some of the articles below:

How long is a 5k run?

What is the average 5K time?

5k Running Tips

5K Training Plan

Calories burnt running a 5k

What to eat before a 5k Run

How to run a 5k faster