Friday, April 27th, 2012

By Jeff Galloway

Spring is in the air, and for many that means getting back on track with a fitness training regimen. One great way to get in shape is to train yourself to run a 5K.

Almost anyone can finish a 5K, and enjoy the experience. After having helped thousands who left the couch and finished with strength, I can say with confidence that almost anyone can do this. The training and the crossing of the finish line is often the beginning of a fitness career that improves the quality of life. In research for my book RUNNING UNTIL YOU’RE 100, I discovered that regular exercise has been statistically proven to increase lifespan.

Here is a proven program to come across the finish line in the upright position.

Walkers: Simply follow the schedule below. Walk slowly on all of the long ones.

Use A Short Stride: Whether walking or running, adjust your stride so that it is relaxed and well within a natural range of motion. It’s better to err on the side of having a short stride.

Long Run. As you push back the length of the long run/walk, every two weeks, you’ll extend endurance limits, improve mental concentration at the end of races, and enhance your physiological infrastructure. Longer long runs, for example, improve your cardiovascular plumbing system so that you can deliver blood better to the exercising muscles, and withdraw the waste more effectively. The endurance workout is the primary training component in a 5K program. There are more details about training, nutrition, motivation, etc.  in my book 5K/10K, which is available from

Pace Must Be Slow I’ve developed a simple test to determine your pace for the long run. Go to a track and run very slowly for two laps. Feel free to take some walk breaks before you start huffing and puffing. If you are not huffing and puffing at the end of the second lap, take your time, multiply by 2 and add two minutes. If you are huffing and puffing at the end, multiply by 2 and add 3 minutes. The result is the fastest per mile time you should be recording on your long runs–you can always go slower.

  • Example: Time is 6:00 without huffing and puffing.  X 2 = 12:00.  Adding 2 minutes will give you a long run pace of no faster than 14 minutes per mile
  • Time is 6:00 but you are huffing and puffing at the end.  X 2 = 12:00. Adding 3 minutes will give you a long run pace of no faster than 15 minutes per mile.

Run-Walk-Run: This method has allowed hundreds of thousands of beginners to finish 5K races and longer distances. By inserting a walk break from the beginning of the workout, and continuing to walk according to a plan, there is no need to produce extra fatigue, pain, or injuries. During the first week it’s best to run for 5-10 seconds and walk for the rest of the minute. If all goes well, you could increase during the second week to 10-20 seconds of running, walking for the rest of the minute. On the third week, you could increase to 20-30 seconds of running while walking for the rest of the minute–if all is well. If you are huffing and puffing, experiencing aches and pains, or struggling in any way, drop back to more walking.  Even at the end of the training program you don’t need to run more than 30 seconds/walking for 30 seconds.  If you want to run more, this is your choice.

Long Run Strategy: The amount of running and walking is adjusted for the pace per mile. Beginning runners should stay with 10-20 seconds of running every minute for most of the long runs. Those who have been running for at least 3 months could use the following:

  • 18 min/mi–Run 10 sec/walk 50 sec
  • 17 min/mi–Run 15 sec/walk 45 sec
  • 16 min/mi–Run 20 sec/walk 40 sec
  • 15 min/mi–Run 30 sec/walk 45 sec
  • 14 min/mi–Run 30 sec/walk 30 sec
  • 13 min/mi–Run 1 min/walk 1 min
  • 12 min/mi–Run 2 min/walk 1 min
  • 11 min/mi–Run 2:30/walk 1 min
  • 10 min/mi–Run 3 min/walk 1 min
  • 9 min/mi–Run 4 min/walk 1 min

Maintenance Workouts: Usually, the long workout is done on weekends, and the two maintenance workouts are done on Tuesday and Thursday (or Monday and Wednesday when the long one is on Saturday). These two sessions start at 10 minutes, and increase by 3-4 additional minutes each week until the time for each is 30 minutes. The pace of these can be as slow or as fast as you want to go, as long as you are recovering well from the weekend long ones.

Rest Days: When you go farther than you have gone before, your muscles, tendons, joints, etc. need time to rebuild stronger. Take the day off from exercise the day before and after a long one. On the other non-running days, you can do any exercise that does not fatigue the calf muscle. So walking, swimming, cycling, elliptical, and rowing are fine. But stair machines, leg weight work, and step aerobics are not. Also take the time to reward yourself for your efforts.

Warm Down: After your workout, don’t stop. Jog slowly, using as many walk breaks as you wish for the next 10 minutes, and then walk for 3-5 minutes. Then, hit the Human Touch massage chair, which I personally love! You deserve a great massage for all of your hard work.

  • The Schedule (whether walking or running)
  • Week 1–Tues 10 min, Thurs 13 min, Saturday 1 mile
  • Week 2–Tues 16 min, Thurs 19 min, Saturday 1.5 mi
  • Week 3–Tues 19 min, Thurs 22 min, Saturday 25 min
  • Week 4–Tues 22 min, Thurs 25 min, Saturday 2 miles
  • Week 5–Tues 25 min, Thurs 28 min, Saturday 30 min
  • Week 6–Tues 28 min, Thurs 30 min, Saturday 2.5 mi
  • Week 7–Tues 30 min, Thurs 30 min, Saturday 30 min
  • Week 8–Tues 30 min, Thurs 30 min, Saturday 3 mi
  • Week 9–Tues 30 min, Thurs 30 min, Saturday 30 min
  • Week 10–Tues 30 min, Thurs 30 min, Saturday 3.5 mi
  • Week 11–Tues 30 min, Thurs 30 min, Saturday 30 min
  • Week 12–Tues 30 min, thurs 30 min, Saturday 5K RACE!

You Can Do IT, so put on those running shoes and start training!

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