12 Week 5k Training Plan + Complete Training Guide

Training for your first 5k can be extremely exciting, even if a bit daunting. When you are new to running, running for several blocks without stopping can be difficult, making the notion of running 3.1 miles without stopping seem like a near impossibility.

However, with consistency and a solid training plan, even ground new runners who have no athletic background and feel woefully out of shape can train to finish a 5k in 12 weeks.

A 12 week 5k training plan is a great starting point for most beginners. It is long enough to safely and gradually progress your endurance so that you can finish a 5k. 

Beginners who have little experience running or have been doing some amount of run/walk workouts or other cardio workouts can expect to take on a 12 week 5k training plan and run the entire race.

So, if you’ve feared running before or feel intimidated, take a deep breath. You can do this. Let’s dive in and get going with our 12 week 5k training plan and guide for beginners.

We will cover: 

  • How Far Is 5k?
  • How to Train for Your First 5k In 12 Weeks
  • 12 Week 5k Training Plan for Beginners

Can you believe you will be able to run a 5k in 3 months?! Let’s get going!

Four people running in single file.

How Far Is 5k?

The “k” component of the 5k distance stands for the metric distance of a kilometer, so a 5k is 5,000 meters, which converts to slightly further than 3.1 miles. 

How to Train for Your First 5k In 12 Weeks

There are no rules in terms of where and how you do your running workout when training for your first (or fiftieth!) 5k.

Some beginners prefer to run on the treadmill because it is convenient, private, and safe when it’s dark or if there is bad weather. 

However, most runners prefer to run outdoors.

The scenery and the ability to change your running routes can provide distraction and mental stimulation, making the runs fly by more quickly and feel more enjoyable. Fresh air is also good for the mind and body.

A person running on a treadmill.

When you run outside, you can choose to run on the roads as long as there is a sidewalk or safe shoulder to run in. 

Parks with bike paths or walking trails and paths are also great options because they are safe from vehicular traffic. Trails, grassy fields, and hard-packed sand are also great options for running because the softer surfaces are more forgiving on your joints and decrease impact forces.

Running around the track can also be beneficial because the known, standardized distance of a regular running track (400 meters) makes it easy to keep track of how far you have run if you do not own a GPS running watch or have an app on your phone that can track distance.

With that said, although every type of terrain has pros and cons, running on various surfaces and in various locations is a great way to prevent boredom and mitigate some of the downsides of each running surface.

After all, as they say, “Variety is the spice of life,“ and it can be your ticket to more enjoyable running.

Ready to get training? Let’s go!

A person smiling and running across a bridge.

12 Week 5k Training Plan for Beginners

Download The Training Plan Here

Enter your email, and I’ll send you this free training plan now, in PDF and Google Sheets formats (completely customizable), in both miles and kilometers.  

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Head over to our 5k training plan database for full access to all plans.

download this free training plan in pdf or google sheet
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
Warm up:
Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: 10 x 30 seconds run/1 min walk;
Cool down:
5 min walk
Cross-training: 20 minutesRestWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
10 x 1 minute run/1 min walk;
Cool down: 5 min walk
Cross-training: 20 minutesWarm up:
Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
12 x 1 minute run/1 min walk;
Cool down: 5 min walk
Rest
Warm up:
Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: 10 x 90 seconds run/1 min walk;
Cool down:
5 min walk
Cross-training: 20-30 minutesRestWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
8 x 2 minute run/1 min walk;
Cool down: 5 min walk
Cross-training: 20 minutesWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
10 x 90 seconds run/30 sec walk;
Cool down: 5 min walk
Rest
Warm up:
Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
8 x 2 minute run/1 min walk;
Cool down: 5 min walk
Cross-training: 20-30 minutesRestWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
8 x 3 minute run/1 min walk;
Cool down:
5 min walk
Cross-training: 20 minutesWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
6 x 4 minutes/1 min walk; Cool down: 5 min walk
Rest
Warm up:
Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
5 x 5 minute run/1 min walk;
Cool down:
5 min walk
Cross-training: 30 minutesRestWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
3 x 8 minute run/1 min walk;
Cool down: 5 min walk
Cross-training: 20-30 minutesWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: 10-minute jog without stoppingRest
Warm up:
Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 15 minutes without stopping, walk for 5 minutes
Cross-training: 30 minutesRestWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
2 x 10 minute run/1 min walk;
Cool down: 5 min walk
Cross-training: 30 minutesWarm up:
Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 18 minutes without stopping, walking 5 minutes
Rest
Warm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 20 minutes without stopping, walk for 5 minutesCross-training: 35 minutesRestWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
Run 20 minutes without stopping running 10 x 30 seconds hard, 1 minute easy during the run, walk for 5 minutes
Cross-training: 30 minutesWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
2 x 15 minute run/30 seconds walk;
Cool down: 5 min walk
Rest
Warm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 2 miles (3k) without stopping; Cool down: 5 min walkCross-training: 40 minutesRestWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
Run 22 minutes without stopping with 10 x 30 seconds hard, 1 minute easy during the run
Easy run 15 minutes or cross training 30 minutesWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 2.5 miles (4k) without stoppingRest
Warm up:
Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 2.5 miles (4 km)
Cross-training: 45 minutesRestWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
Run 25 minutes running 5 minutes easy and then 10 x 1 minute hard with 1 minute easy in between during the run
Easy run 20 minutes or cross training 30 minutesWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 3 miles (5 km)Rest
Warm up:
Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 2.5 miles (4 km) or 30 minutes without stopping
Cross-training: 45 minutesRestWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
Run 30 minutes by running 5 minutes easy and then 5 x 90 sec hard with 1 minute easy in between during the run
Easy run 20 minutes or cross training 30 minutesWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 3 miles (5 km) and then 4 x 50m stridesRest
Warm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 2.5 miles (4 km) or 30 minutes without stoppingCross-training: 45 minutesRestWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 30 minutes running 5 minutes easy and then 2 x 5 minutes hard with 3 minutes easy in between during the runEasy run 20 minutes or cross training 30 minutesWarm up:
Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 3 miles (5 km), and then 4 x 50m strides
Rest
Run 3 miles without stopping Cross training: 45 minutesRestWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
Run 30 minutes with 1 x 8 minutes hard running during the workout
Easy run 20 minutes or cross training 30 minutesRun 3.5 miles without stoppingRest
Warm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 3 miles (5 km)Cross training: 35-40 minutesWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 2 miles (3k), running the first half mile of each mile hard, and running the second half mile of each mile easyRestEasy run 15 minutes 5k Race!Rest
A person on a stationary bike in a gym.

Although plenty of beginners assume that the only necessary element in a 12 week 5k training plan is getting out to run, there are several important components of any successful 5k training plan for beginners, including the cross-training workouts and rest days that are included in this plan.

These components are just as important as the runs themselves.

Cross-training refers to any type of exercise other than running. 

Running is a high-impact activity, and novice runners are at an increased risk of injuries, so doing low-impact exercise, such as cycling, swimming, or the elliptical trainer, helps improve aerobic endurance without putting as much stress on bones, tendons, joints, and muscles.

The scheduled rest days are crucial. This is where your body actually recovers and makes the reparative adaptations necessary to help you become a stronger runner. 

Even if you feel like you could run or you really want to run, it’s very important to take the rest days. Your body needs to recover.

Believe in yourself. By taking on this 12 week 5k training plan, you are now a runner!

For more of our 5k training resources, check out our 5k training database here!

A person running on the sand.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, and contributes to several fitness, health, and running websites and publications. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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