6 Week 5k Training Plan + Complete Training Guide

Finishing your first 5k is an exciting accomplishment for any new runner. Training for a 5k race typically takes beginners a couple of months, depending on your initial level of fitness. 

However, if you are working on a time crunch because you have found a 5k race that you would like to run, it is possible to follow a 6 week 5k training plan so that you can finish the full 3.1-mile distance on race day in just six weeks.

Of course, the longer you have to train, the more gradual and progressive your training program can be, so a 6 week 5k training plan for beginners will be a bit more aggressive than an 8 week or the more common beginner-friendly 12 week 5k training plan. 

Therefore, if you are willing to work hard and are mostly interested in being able to finish the race without stopping and are not overly concerned about running particularly fast, then following a 6 week 5k training plan should help get you to the finish line and earn your first finisher’s medal and race T-shirt. 

We will cover: 

  • How Far Is 5k?
  • 6 Week 5k Training Plan for Beginners
  • 3 Tips for Training for a 5k in 6 Weeks for Beginners

Ready to get training? Let’s get running!

A group in a 5k race.

How Far Is 5k?

Plenty of novice runners aren’t sure exactly how long 5k is when they first start thinking about signing up for the race.

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 longer than 3.1 miles. 

6 Week 5k Training Plan for Beginners

When working on an abbreviated timetable, having additional time to train per week is helpful because it will enable you to take on some cross-training workouts and improve your fitness at a faster rate.

The following is a 6 week 5k training plan for beginners we have created that involves running three days a week, cross-training for two days, and taking two rest days.

Training for a 5k in six weeks is quite challenging if you haven’t been running because it takes the body a fair amount of time to adapt to your training. 

A person running down the road.

Therefore, you might find that you’re quite sore and tired after sessions. If this happens, it’s always okay to take an extra rest day or swap out a run for cross-training workout instead. 

It’s imperative that you listen to your body rather than prioritize your runs if your body isn’t up for it.

Make sure to make your cross-training workouts nice and easy and focus on low-impact exercises like swimming, the elliptical machine, deep water running, indoor or outdoor cycling, or rowing.

The goal of the cross-training workouts is to help you build your aerobic endurance and strengthen your muscles without putting more stress on your bones, joints, and connective tissues in the way that high-impact running does. 

You don’t have to push hard during these workouts; work in the “moderate-intensity” cardio zone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your target heart rate for moderate-intensity physical activity should be between 64-76% of your maximum heart rate. 

You can keep track of your intensity level more accurately if you wear a heart rate monitor; otherwise, aim for a 6-7 out of 10 effort level on a rate of perceived exertion scale.

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.  

Previous visitor or not seeing where to sign up?

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

download this free training plan in pdf or google sheet
A group of people jogging together.

Ready? Let’s go!

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 2:30  run/1 min walk;
Cool down: 5 min walk
Cross-training: 30 minutesRestWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
8 x 3 minute run/1 min walk;
Cool down: 5 min walk
Cross-training: 20-30 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: 35 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: 2 x 10 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 2.5 miles (4k) without stoppingCross-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 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 easy
RestEasy run 15 minutes 5k Race!Rest
A person holding out a glass of water.

3 Tips for Training for a 5k in 6 Weeks for Beginners

Unless you are currently in good shape from regularly performing other types of exercise besides running, or if you’ve been doing some amount of consistent running before formally beginning your 5k training plan, training for a 5k in 6 weeks is pretty challenging. 

Here are a few tips for new runners to help support your training:

#1: Drink Water

Don’t forget to hydrate before, during, and after your runs and cross-training workouts, and stay hydrated through the day. Your cells need water, and you lose fluids through sweat.

#2: Pace Yourself

The number one mistake that beginner runners make is trying to run too fast.

Your brain will want to run faster than your body should be running, especially as a new runner.

A 5k is an endurance race, not a sprint.

You should be running slow enough that you can carry on a conversation.

People walking in a race.

#3: Walk When You Need To In the Race

On race day, there are no “rules” in terms of walking or running. You can take as many or as few walking breaks as you want or need to.

Many beginner runners who have gone through an accelerated 6 week 5k training plan actually do best with pre-planning walks in the race, using an interval structure that worked well for you during the training program.

In fact, many novice runners find that they have to jog so slowly that they might actually be covering ground faster if they were walking. 

You might choose to do shorter run intervals with frequent but brief walking breaks or longer running segments with fewer but longer walking breaks.

With that said, if your goal is to run as much of the 5k as possible, try to keep “running” during the running intervals in the workouts, even if this means that you are jogging so slowly you feel like you’re running backward.

Even though a 6 week 5k training plan is very accelerated, if the training goes well, it’s definitely possible that you might be able to run the entire race without stopping. If you pace yourself well, you may be pleasantly surprised.

However, it is important to note that if your goal is to finish the 5k race as fast as possible and you feel like walking briskly will help you get a better time, by all means, feel free to transition your jog into a power walk.

Do what feels best for you. Can you believe that you’ll be a 5k finisher in six weeks?! How exciting! For more of our 5k training resources, check out our 5k training database!

A person in a yellow sweatshirt flexing their biceps.
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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