Are you looking to tackle a 5K race – but it’s only a few weeks away? Get prepared to cross that finish line with this 3 week 5K training plan!
While having a longer amount of time to train would be ideal, it’s definitely possible to prepare your body to do a 5K in just a few short weeks. There are really just two key factors to remember with this: 1) depending on your current fitness level, you may need to add in ample walking breaks to help you complete the full race, and 2) this is not the type of plan that you’d use to achieve a time goal; it’s a plan to simply finish.
Here’s everything you need to know about this 3 week 5K training plan:
You can feel free to scroll to the bottom of this post to view and print the plan, but I’d encourage you to read over these important tips before starting it:
Who is this training plan for?
This 3 week 5K training plan is designed for those who have signed up for a last minute race and would like to successfully cross the finish line. It’s ideal for:
- Walkers who are looking to maybe incorporate some running intervals into their 5K race
- Beginner runners who signed up for a last-minute race and want a structured training plan
- Recreational runners who are getting back into the swing of training and want to sign up for a race to keep the motivation going
This 3 week 5K training plan is not designed for intermediate or advanced runners who are looking to gain speed and PR for their race. It’s also not designed for those who have been sedentary the last few months.
What level of fitness do I need to start?
You should be able to comfortably walk at least 2 miles to start this plan.
You do not necessarily need to be able to run consistently yet, but this plan will work best if you have started experimenting with some running already.
You should also not have any current injuries when starting this plan, especially due to the abbreviated nature of the schedule.
*Disclaimer: I am not a physician; check with your doctor prior to starting any new exercise program.
What is the schedule like?
This training plan includes four weekly running workouts. Each workout ranges from about 29 minutes to around 40 minutes, depending on your pace.
I would recommend structuring the workouts with rest days between some runs (and not doing all four runs back-to-back).
You can also include a strength training day and/or cross training days in between your runs. This is optional; however even minimal body weight strength training like squats, bridges, and lunges can help with running form. I would recommend including body weight exercises like this once a week if you are able and already used to doing these. If you do not have experience with these, hold off and try adding them into your workout routine after your race.
Here is an example of how you might structure your week based on this information:
- Monday – Run 1
- Tuesday – Rest – OR 15-20 min body weight strength
- Wednesday – Run 2
- Thursday – Run 3
- Friday – Rest
- Saturday – Run 4
- Sunday – Rest – OR Cross training
A guide to your workouts:
This training plan is fairly simple to follow. There’s no heart rate training or zones or anything like that; it’s simple time-based training most days and a few distance-based runs.
All the time-based workouts start with a 5-minute warm up walk and then go into the run portion, which is usually a run/walk interval that’s repeated several times. For example, here’s a sample workout from the plan:
- WU: 5 min walk
- Run: 3 min
- Walk: 2 min
- Repeat x 5
WU denotes warm up; that means you’d start with the 5-minute walk. Then you’d run 3 minutes, followed by walking 2 minutes. Since the workout says “Repeat x 5”, you’d do that 3 min run / 2 min walk again four more times, for a total of 5 times.
A few tips/clarifications:
- You do not repeat the warm up walk multiple times in a single session.
- The “repeat x __” is the total number of times you’ll do the run/walk intervals in that workout.
- Try to pace yourself while running at a clip where you can finish the entire running interval without having to stop early to walk. Of course, as you approach the longer intervals (like 8-10 minutes), you may need to add in an extra walking break in the middle – and that’s fine.
Your last run of each week is a distance-based run – you’ll have a 2 mile run, a 2.5 mile run, and then your race day 3.1 mile run.
For these, run as much of the distance as you can and add in any walking breaks as needed. Your speed is not as important as trying to stay slow and steady so that you can finish the distance. Pace yourself slower than you think you might need to at the beginning; you can always pick up the speed in the second half of the distance.
Don’t feel discouraged if you need to add in a lot of walking; everyone’s fitness level is different!
Warm ups, cool downs, and stretching:
- Remember, start all your time-based workouts with 5 minutes of walking to warm up.
- For all your workouts, it’s beneficial to end with a few minutes of easy walking to cool down.
- Be sure to stretch after your runs. If you struggle with tight muscles on a regular basis, consider adding foam rolling.
Your 3 Week 5K Training Plan
You can pin or print the graphic below so that you have a copy of this training plan at home. (PS – Ignore the “click through” on the graphic below; that’s for people who are finding the image on Pinterest!). You can also download a PDF version of the training schedule here.
There you have it! Everything you need to know to cross that finish line of your 5K in just 3 weeks.
PS – If you enjoyed this plan, maybe you’ll consider doing another road race in the future! If so, be sure to check out my full list of free training plans for runners and triathletes.