Traci Copeland is a Nike Master Trainer and run coach based in New York City. She’s created this five-week program that will have you eyeing the finish line of a 5K, whether it’s your first time lacing up or you’re an old pro. Train with us over the following month and we’ll meet you on October 26 for our virtual race.
For a new runner, motivating to reach the finish line of a 5K can feel nothing short of intimidating, especially if you’ve never run a race (or even a mile) before. But—and trust me on this one—getting started is the hardest part.
The first step towards getting your head in the game is, literally, taking the first step, and this beginner’s 5K plan is designed to make it happen. It consists of five weeks worth of running and cross-training workouts, with built-in recovery days that will help prep you for your first-ever race day. Whatever mental and physical hurdles are standing in your way, consider this your guide for jumping over them at full speed. Because, when you’re totally new to the whole “running” thing, running for five minutes straight—let alone five kilometers straight—might seem terrifying. To make training feel more manageable, this plan starts out with bite-sized walk and run combos to help you find your stride.
As you work on finding your stride, remember to pace yourself. Often times, new runners tense up and start by running too fast, which can mess with your body’s natural movements. Central to this is breathing. At first, this can also be complicated, and you may find yourself out of breath faster than you’d expect. Don’t panic. Over time, you’ll develop a breathing system that works for you over an extended period of time spent running.
The best thing for a newer runner is to try to stick to the plan as closely as possible, but there is a little bit of wiggle room here —don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout. Life happens, which might mean you have to skip training day, which is not (I repeat, is not) the end of the world. Start back up from where you left off, and keep powering through. One more thing: Signing up for a race, particularly as a first time runner, is an accomplishment in itself. Actually crossing the finish line? That deserves a medal.