8 Week 5k Training Plan + Complete Training Guide

Almost every beginner sets their sights on finishing a 5k race as their initial running goal.

Training for a 5k can certainly seem daunting when it is challenging to just run a couple of blocks without stopping, but after you have a couple of weeks of running under your belt, the reality of being able to run 3.1 miles becomes more tangible.

Following an 8 week 5k training plan for beginners is a safe and effective way to gradually progress your fitness and increase your endurance to prepare your body and mind for running a 5k. 

An 8-week 5k training plan for beginners is a reasonable approach that strikes a good balance between being moderately aggressive in how quickly you will progress to the 5k distance without being overly challenging and increasing the risk of injuries.

Many beginners find that an 8 week 5k training plan is the perfect amount of time to stay motivated and excited about your upcoming race and improvements in your fitness without becoming overly sore and over-trained by doing too much too quickly.

This article provides an 8 week 5k training plan and guide for beginners to help you finish your first 5k race in just two months. 

We will cover: 

  • How Far Is 5k?
  • 8 Week 5k Training Plan for Beginners
  • Tips for Following an 8 Week 5k Training Plan for Beginners

Let’s get excited and start training!

A person running in a field at sunset.

How Far Is 5k?

Many novice runners embarking on their first 5k training plan aren’t even sure exactly how long 5k is when they first start thinking about signing up for the race.

Don’t be embarrassed if you fall into this camp; we all start at square one!

The “k” component of the 5k distance stands for the metric distance of a kilometer, so a 5k is 5,000 meters. 

For runners in the United States who are more accustomed to miles, this converts to slightly longer than 3.1 miles. 

8 Week 5k Training Plan for Beginners

The 8 week 5k training plan for beginners we have created involves running three days a week, cross-training for two days, and taking two rest days.

Your cross-training workouts can be any form of exercise other than running, but the best options are low-impact forms of cardio such as indoor or outdoor cycling, swimming, deep water running, an elliptical machine, or a rowing machine.

A person on a rowing machine.

The primary goal of the cross-training workouts is to help you improve 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 shouldn’t be working super hard during these workouts; rather, you want to be keeping your heart rate 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. 

Wearing a heart rate monitor will help you have a more accurate way to quantify your intensity level; 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
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 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 stopping
Rest
Warm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 3 miles (5 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 15 minutes or cross training 30 minutesWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout: Run 3 miles (5 km)Rest
Run 3.5 milesCross-training: 45 minutesRestWarm up: Brisk walk for 5 min; Workout:
Run 3 miles with 10 x 1 min hard running interspersed during the workout
Easy run 15 minutes or cross training 30 minutesRun 3.5 milesRest
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 runner stopped, looking at their phone.

Tips for Following an 8 Week 5k Training Plan for Beginners

You don’t need to be running fast during your actual workouts. In fact, the number one mistake that beginner runners make is trying to run too fast.

This will tire you out prematurely and may make it difficult to finish the full running interval without stopping to walk. 

You will notice that this 8 week 5k training plan uses the run/walk approach as you build your stamina.

This means you’ll run for specific intervals and then take walking breaks in between to recover.

When following the training plan, do your best to follow the workouts as written, running or jogging or the entire running segment, and then walk as slowly as you need to during the walking break.

A person walking on an indoor track.

However, try to keep moving through the walking breaks. Do not come to a complete stop, even though you may want to. 

Remember, any forward progress is still progress, even if it is super slow, and you’ll improve your aerobic endurance if you keep moving and don’t allow your heart rate to drop as much as it might if you come to a standstill. 

The same principle applies to the running intervals. Even if you have to jog super slowly, try to stay disciplined and keep it a jog rather than a walk, particularly if your goal is to run the entire 5k race without stopping.

You are training your body to get used to running, and pushing through will help build your physical and mental endurance. With that said, if you’re experiencing any pain, you should always stop and walk and abort your workout. 

Pain can be indicative of an injury.

When it comes to race day, there are absolutely no rules in terms of walking versus running. Listen to your body and do what feels best. You might not be able to run the entire race without stopping, but taking walking breaks during the race is totally fine, and you can and should take them whenever you want.

An 8 week 5k training plan is ambitious, so do your best and be proud of yourself for every workout you do. You’ve got this! For more of our 5k training resources, check out our 5k database here.

A runner taking our their earbud.
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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