Coach’s Corner: Are you ready to tackle your first 5K?

By: Amy Begley, Atlanta Track Club Coach

Published: March 2, 2017


Tip One – Progress slowly

For beginning runners, don’t try to go out and run lot of miles.  Start off with the following schedule:

  • 3 days per week of walk/jog workouts  (example:  ½ mile walk + 20 minutes rotating 1 minute of running with one  minute of jogging + ½ mile walk)
  • 1 day per week is your long run.  Start off with 1 mile and add ½ mile each week.  Your long run will be dependent on the race you are training for, but should be 3-4 miles for a 5k.
  • As you progress, you can increase the amount of time you run versus walk on the run/walk workouts (for    example, in week 2 do 10 x 90 seconds run/1 minute walk).  You can increase by 30-60 seconds per week.



Tip Two – Dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

  • Take care of the little things.
  • Be sure to stretch after your runs.
  • Hydrate before and after your runs (and during when it is hot).
  • Get plenty of rest.  Your body will need more sleep with an increase in activity.



Sample Week:

Monday — Off or Cross-Train

Tuesday — Easy Walk/Jog

Wednesday — Easy Walk/Jog

Thursday — Off or Cross-Train

Friday — Easy Walk/Jog

Saturday — Long Run

Sunday — Off or Cross-Train



Tip Three – Injuries

  •  Know the difference between sore legs and injuries.  Sore muscles will typically be equal on both legs.
  • Sore muscles typically warm up within the first mile or within the first 10-15 minutes.
  • An injury is usually on one leg or one side hurts more than the other leg.
  • Ice for 10-15 minutes on an area that is sore.
  • Seek medical attention from a local sports medicine professional if an injury persists or causes limping or a change in your running form..
  • Do not push through stabbing or burning pain.



Tip Four – Set Goals

  • Have a plan and a goal race.
  • Make your goals public so that others can encourage you along the way.
  • Join a training group to keep you motivated or give you company on runs.
  • Set clear measurable goals.
    • Daily goals  (Example:  I’m going to eat 3 fruits/vegetables today)
    • Weekly goals  (Example:  I’m going to exercise 5 days this week)
    • Monthly goals (I am going to increase my mileage by 4 miles for each of the next 4 week)
    • Ultimate goal (I want to run an entire 5k, without walking)

Setbacks will happen.  Acknowledge them, learn from them and continue toward the ultimate goal.  You may take two steps back and one step forward some weeks.