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 1

The Run Walk Run method can and will work for you precisely because it involves starting slow. Including walk breaks reduces fatigue and orthopedic stress, making the routine safer and more sustainable than an intense, nonstop training plan. “When you go farther than you’ve gone before, your muscles, tendons, and joints need time to rebuild stronger,” says Galloway. That’s why our plan designates built-in rest days before and after your long runs, plus postural strength training such as crunches and weighted-arm running. Get details on how to do those exercises here.
This week, try running for five to 10 seconds at the beginning of every minute, walking for the remaining 50-55 seconds, and repeating. You’ll find that you gradually increase the time you spend running and decrease the time you spend walking. If, at any point, you start to huff and puff, walk gently with short strides until your breathing returns to normal. Overexertion is the quickest way to get injured.
One last thing: Warming up and cooling down are vital to protecting your muscles from pulls and tears. Galloway recommends beginning each day’s task with three minutes of walking and ending it with a 10-minute slow jog that includes as many walk breaks as you want, followed by three to five minutes of walking. If this warm-up and cool-down routine sounds extensive, it’s totally fine to work it into your total minutes for the day.
Ready, set, run!