5k Walking Guide: Beginner’s Training Guide To Walk 5k

Run / 5k / 5k Tips /
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Walking is one of the simplest forms of exercise, but that doesn’t make it any less valid in terms of being a great workout for your health. Although it’s certainly fine to keep your walking routine informal, many walkers enjoy the challenge and structure of training to walk a 5k.

These days, there are many organized community 5k walks, often to support a particular charity. These 5k walks can be a great motivational tool for training and a fun way to put even more meaning into your fitness routine.

You can also enter nearly any 5k road race as a walker and walk the full distance on race day. But what exactly is a 5k walk? How far is a 5k walk in miles? How long does it take to walk a 5k? 

Keep reading this Beginner’s 5k Walking Training Guide for the answers to these questions and everything you need to know about one of the most celebrated distances among walkers, runners, and joggers alike.

We will look at: 

  • How Far Is a 5k Walk In Miles?
  • How Long Does It Take to Walk a 5k?
  • Can I Walk in a 5k Race?
  • How Do You Train For a 5k Walk?
  • Beginner’s 5k Walk Training Plan
  • 5k Walking Tips for Beginners

Let’s get started!

Two people walking in the park.

How Far Is a 5k Walk?

The “k” component of the 5k distance stands for the metric distance of a kilometer, so a 5k is 5000 meters. For walkers in the United States who are more accustomed to miles, this converts to slightly longer than 3.1 miles

One nice thing about organized 5k walks or 5k running races that you can enter as a walker is that these events will have signs (aptly called mile markers) along the course marking each mile of the route. 

Therefore, even if you don’t want to walk with your phone and don’t have a fancy GPS running watch, you’ll still know how much there is left to go.

How Long Does It Take to Walk a 5k?

Obviously, the length of time it takes to walk a 5k depends on the pace you’re moving. 

For example, if you walk each mile in 20 minutes, your 5k walking time will be slightly over one hour. This is a relatively relaxed walking pace, equivalent to 3.0 mph.

Many beginning walkers aim to maintain somewhere in the 3-4 mph walking pace

If you walk a 5k at a brisk walking pace of 3.5 miles per hour, it will take 53 minutes to finish the distance. Maintaining an aggressive 4.0 mph (15 minutes per mile) will allow you to walk a 5k in a little under 47 minutes.

People walking in the park.

Can I Walk In a 5k Race?

Absolutely!

One of the best things about running as a sport is that the community is very accepting and diverse. We are all united by the common goal of finishing the race, and you can do that however you see fit—including walking the entire race.

How Do You Train For a 5k Walk?

We all know how to walk, so you might not think that training for a 5k walk is necessary. However, depending on your current fitness routine, a 5k walk can also be an incredible, if not daunting, physical feat.

The good news is that barring certain musculoskeletal injuries, with proper training, even complete beginners can absolutely train and complete a 5k walk.

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, and no matter what size and shape you are, a 5k walk is totally doable.

A close-up of a person's feet walking.

If you’re brand new to walking, you’ll want to complete the full 5k Walk Training Plan below, as it gradually builds in time and duration. 

If you’ve been walking regularly or doing another form of cardio (such as elliptical or cycling), you’ll be able to train for a 5k walk more quickly since you will already have a good fitness base. Depending on the time and energy you have to train, and your goal for the race, jump in on our beginner’s 5k walk training plan a few weeks in. 

Beginner’s 5k Walk Training Plan

This training plan will help you complete a 5k walk as a beginner. We purposely do not include specific paces. Walk by effort

During an easy walk, you should be able to carry on a full conversation speaking in complete sentences without losing your breath.

During a brisk walk, you should be able to talk, but in choppy, somewhat breathless sentences.

On “Rest or easy walk days,” you can either take a complete break or walk for 5-30 minutes or so at a leisurely pace, depending on your fitness level and goals

We want this to be a safe, sustainable program that builds confidence and consistency as much as it does fitness, endurance, and strength. If you’re jumping in from “couch” to 5k walking, the rest days are important

Though many new walkers get so excited about their training that they want to walk every day, rest days give your body time to rebuild, repair, and recover. 

A 5k walk training plan.
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
10 minute easy walkRest or easy walk15 minute easy walkRest or easy walk1 mile walk (or 20 minutes)Rest or easy walk10 minute brisk walk
20 minute easy walkRest or easy walk20 minute easy walkRest or easy walk1.5 mile walk (or 30 minutes)Rest or easy walk15 minute brisk walk
25 minute easy walkRest or easy walk 20  minutes total:
10 minute easy walk, 10 minute brisk walk for
Rest or easy walk2 mile walk (or 40 minutes)Rest or easy walk20 minute brisk walk
30 minute easy walkRest or easy walk25 minutes total: 15 minutes easy walk, 10 minutes brisk walkRest or easy walk2.5 mile walk (or 50 minutes)Rest or easy walk25 minute brisk walk
35 minute easy walkRest or easy walk30 minutes total: 15 minutes easy walk, 15 minutes brisk walkRest or easy walk2.5 mile walk (or 50 minutes)Rest or easy walk30 minute brisk walk
40 minute easy walkRest or easy walk35 minutes total: 20 minutes easy walk, 15 minutes brisk walkRest or easy walk3 mile walk (or 60 minutes)Rest or easy walk35 minute brisk walk
45 minute easy walkRest or easy walk40 minutes total: 20 minutes easy walk, 20 minutes brisk walkRest or easy walk30 minute walk15 minute easy walk5k Walk!

5k Walking Tips for Beginners

Walking a 5k is an impressive fitness milestone. Here are some tips for beginners walking your first 5k:

#1: Get Proper Walking Shoes

You’ll be putting some serious mileage on your feet while you train for your 5k walk. Although old sneakers or even casual sandals may have been fine for short walks in the past, getting a good pair of walking shoes will help ensure your feet are properly supported.

Worn out shoes with insufficient support can increase the risk of injury. If you don’t plan on doing any running or jogging, get a walking-specific shoe. If you’d like to eventually try some running as well, running shoes can also be a good option.

#2: Drink Plenty of Water

Depending on the climate in which you live, the clothing you wear, and the pace you walk, you may or may not sweat a lot during your walks. Even if you don’t seem to be sweating significantly, it’s still important to hydrate well before and after your walks. 

Sweat evaporates and you also lose fluid through expired air, so we often need more water than we think.

Consider carrying a handheld water bottle for longer walks or investing in a fuel belt to hold water hands free.

A close-up of people's feet walking with their dog.

#3: Make It Fun

Make your walks enjoyable by recruiting a friend or family member, listening to music or podcasts, enlisting your dog to be your walking companion, or finding some other way to keep your walks motivating and enjoyable.

#4: Set a Realistic Goal

A great goal is just to finish the 5k walk and enjoy the experience. If you do want to set a time goal, use the average pace you have been walking during workouts to help you come up with a realistic time goal.

#5: Don’t Try Anything New On Event Day

This is an important one. It’s super fun to have fancy new exercise clothes, but race day isn’t the time to take them on their debut whirl. Your body likes routine and predictability. 

On the morning of your 5k walk, resist the temptation to try a new breakfast, wear brand new shoes, or guzzle a sports drink you’ve never had. 

You can’t predict how your body will respond, and you might find yourself doubled over with cramps or blisters, wishing you have stuck to what you have been doing in training.

A person power walking over a bridge.

#6: Be Present

You only have one first 5k walk experience in your life, and chances are, it’ll be an empowering experience you’ll look back on fondly for years to come. Enjoy the 5k walk event as much as you can. 

Take in the crowds, the music, the cheering. Keep your eyes up as you walk and enjoy the novel scenery. Try to resist the urge to walk with headphones at the actual event, even if you wore them in training. 

Be present and live in the moment of the 5k walk. Celebrate what you’ve done!

If you need some help picking out shoes, take a look at our running shoes guide for guidance.

Two people walking with sunglasses on.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. 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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