The 4-Week 5K Challenge Anyone Can Master

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If you're not a runner, the prospect of signing up for a 5K can be really scary. It can feel like committing to climb Mount Everest. But, training for a race doesn't have to be uncomfortable or unpleasant. To prove it, we enlisted training consultant and creator of the Run Walk Run method, Jeff Galloway, to teach us how to get physically and mentally 5K-ready in just four weeks.

On each of the next four Fridays, we'll be sharing a calendar with action items for the week — including three essential rest days — plus insight from Galloway on how to stay motivated and keep injuries at bay.

Got the finish line in sight? Good. It’s time to lace up your sneaks and get out there.

How To Master A 5K In 28 Days: Week 4

The race is just a week away. You've got one more long run, and then rest until game day. At this point, you've proven you can stick to the schedule. As for your final week of training — it's more mental than physical. 

"Having a strategy will keep your conscious brain focused and in control of what you do," says Galloway. Without one, the subconscious brain can take over. "Then, the body and mind go on separate missions." To avoid that, try these four proven tactics: 

1. Keep your eye on the prize. 

Whether it's thinking about the huge sense of accomplishment you'll feel at the end of the race, the cause you're running for, or the giant fudge sundae you're planning to celebrate with, focusing on what motivates you is one of the best ways to push ahead.

2. Pump up the jams. 
Make yourself a killer playlist — we're thinking a little Icona Pop and some Walk the Moon  — for the length of the race. There are even apps that will change the tempo of a song so that it matches your pace.

3. Call for backup.
If you're running for a cause, you're probably raising money. That's great motivation. If it's just for you, consider sharing your training schedule with a friend and asking her to hold you accountable — and to text you a few words of encouragement.

4. Let go of the all-or-nothing mindset.
The key to your training has been listening to your body, not pushing it beyond its limits. It's crucial to keep up that mindset. If you tell yourself that you MUST run the full 3.1 miles at a seven-minute-per-mile pace, you're setting yourself up for injury and disappointment. Be kind to yourself, do your best, and let the work you've done until now be something you're proud of. 

A few parting words before the big race: Remember to break in your running shoes, don't skimp on sleep the night before, and know that undertaking a challenge like this is seriously admirable — regardless of your finish time. We'll be cheering for you!