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A beginners guide to running your first 5K

Is tackling your first 5K on your health and wellness bucket list for 2024, but you don't know where to start? We've got you covered with tips to get you started.

Outdoor running season is right around the corner. 

And before you know it, you'll be able to lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement without having to worry about the cold. 

While running may seem like a daunting task, surprisingly, it can be a great stress-reliever and gets easier and easier the more you do it.

If you've been wanting to become a better runner, but don't know where to start, the first thing you need to know is that it is perfectly okay if you cannot run a full mile right now.

Read on to learn how to start running, and how to work your way up to running 5K—and enjoying the pride that goes with it!

You Have to Walk Before You Can Run

Yes, it sounds a bit cliché, but the best way to prepare your body for running is to go for a daily walk. This gets your muscles moving and prepares your body for a light jog. Plus, walking is a fun pastime that gives you fresh air and the beauty of nature. Once you are ready, mix in a bit of light jogging while you’re on your walk and slowly build up to running. 

Create a Plan—and Stick to It!

Now that you know what to do daily, create a training plan—and the sooner, the better. Many experts say your body needs about a month to get used to running. The best way to train is to be consistent and run a little each day along with the daily walks. Start slow and run ½ a kilometre for a week, then 1 kilometre, then 1.5 kilometres, then 2 kilometres, then 3 kilometres, and then building on each week from the one before. Also, be sure to take 1-2 rest days each week, and consider alternating your workouts with strength training to ensure you are getting a full-body workout each week.

Photo: urbazon via

Take Advantage of Those Online Videos 

There are plenty of videos available online that provide guidance for training for a 5K. Holabird Sports has a YouTube video with five tips for success for your first 5K, along with insights into shoes and their performance. Global Triathlon Network also has several beginner videos on its YouTube channel. Plus, you can view its full weekly walk-run guide here.

Your Diet Play a Big Role, Too

While physical training is important, eating a healthy, well-rounded diet is also critical to succeeding in your first 5K. Make sure you’re eating enough protein, vegetables, fruits, and carbs to give you the proper balance of energy and to nourish your body on the recovery days. Plus, be sure you’re refuelling your body after a training session with something like a protein shake or smoothie, a bowl of fruit, or peanut butter toast. The key is to be mindful of the foods you’re eating and to avoid sugary, processed foods, alcohol, and junk food.

Make Sleep a Priority

Getting a full night’s sleep is essential for muscle recovery and increasing your overall well-being. A good night's rest will also boost your chances of being able to train the next day without feeling lethargic or stressed. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends adults ages 18 to 60 get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Adults ages 61 and older should get anywhere from 7 to 9 hours a night. If you’re struggling to fall or stay asleep, talk to your doctor about it.

With this beginner guide, you can take that first step towards training that will put you on the path to conquering your first 5K—and that’s a heck of a feeling of accomplishment.