Learn-to-Run

The Fitness Cheerleader’s 5K Learn-to-Run Program

8 week learn to run 5k program

Introduction

Not the sort of thing that you would expect to come from the mouth of a gal who has completed 3 marathons. Although I’ve never been a fast runner, raising money for charity and completing races during my marathon preparation has left me with a real sense of achievement – a sense of achievement that you can have too!

The truth is, that given the right tools we all have the ability to run and enjoy it.

In the next few weeks I will be looking to help you improve your fitness level, lose weight and enjoy your running. The great news is you don’t need to spend money on a gym membership or expensive equipment, all you need is comfortable clothing and a sensible pair of running shoes. With a little nudge in the right direction you will soon be on your way to a fitter and faster you.

This 8-week running program is designed to help you complete a 5k (3 mile) run. Use each week in order, don’t skip any part of it and try to follow each day and week as closely as possible.

The first two weeks will get you used to spending time on your feet. Slowly building your fitness levels and confidence. If you feel that you want to use weeks 1 & 2 for a little longer that’s fine. Be sure that you spend no longer than 4 weeks in this preparatory stage. If you’ve been walking for weight loss for a while then you can skip weeks 1 & 2 and start at week 3. 

It is strongly advised that you speak to your GP if you have never exercised or if you have any medical condition prior to starting an exercise program.

How to start?

If you are in the position that you have not exercised for a long time, a gentle increase in activity will be the first place to start.

Use the stairs not the lift, walk to the station or local shops, keep the pace brisk and try to notice how your body feels when you finish. You may have some aching muscles but this will pass in time as you become stronger and fitter. Try to notice what the effect is on your mood. I’m sure you will enjoy the results. With each stride picture the sense of achievement you will have finishing a 5k jog.

The first two weeks of this program will get you into the exercise habit and once you make it a regular thing exercise will become a rich and varied addition to your weekly routine.

Plan your week. Set aside a regular time when you will exercise. An important part of any training program is to schedule regular rest days, without these your progress will be hindered. This is more important if you are a complete novice. The choice is yours. You know exactly what you are capable of and how you feel after exercising.

Once you have made the commitment to start running, it’s a good idea to set your plan out. Workout when you want to run and experiment with different running times to see when you feel at your best.

You might be the sort of person who likes to set aside your weekend for shopping.

You may find you work best in the morning or alternatively in the evening after work.

The time you choose to run needs to suit you.

Stretching

After each training session it is advisable to stretch your legs. This should be a relaxing end to your workout so don’t be too aggressive when performing each stretch.

Lower leg (calf)

Standing on the edge of a step. Let the heel of one leg drop until you feel pressure in the muscle on the back of your lower leg. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds or more.

(Roll up a towel to use as a sling to help you perform the next stretches.)

Quadriceps

Using a wall for balance, hook the towel around your leg like a sling. Pull the foot up behind you until you feel an easy pressure in the front of your lifted leg. Hold this for 10 secs or more. Repeat on the other side.

Hamstrings

Laying on your back hook your foot into the towel held in a loop with both hands. Try to straighten the leg until you feel pressure in the back of the raised leg between the knee and hip.

Week 1

Start slowly. As previously mentioned, if you do too much too soon you may struggle and that sense of enjoyment could be easily lost.

Monday

Begin with a brisk walk, remember it’s all about making a habit so this is a good place to start. If you can’t manage the time to have a brisk walk, how are you going to set aside time to run? The next two weeks will give you a chance to organise your time.

Tuesday

Rest

Wednesday

Brisk walk for 15 mins. How do you feel?

Thursday

Rest

Friday

Brisk Walk for 20 mins. I’m sure you have noticed that we are building the time on your feet.

If you found this week was manageable then move on to week 2. Starting Monday.

Saturday

Rest

Sunday

Rest

Week 1 Duration How? Fast or slow
Monday 10 minutes Brisk Walk
Tuesday Rest  
Wednesday 15 minutes Brisk Walk
Thursday Rest  
Friday 20 minutes Brisk Walk
Saturday Rest  
Sunday Rest  

 

Week 2

Front loading the week gets the longer walks completed on Monday and Wednesday. This will give you a chance to recover before commencing to week three.

Monday

30 minutes brisk walk. Maintain your concentration and keep a brisk pace. It would be a good idea to find a park or area you enjoy visiting to complete your longer journeys. The distraction of seeing new places will make the exercise time go a lot quicker.

Tuesday

Rest day

Wednesday

30 minute brisk walk.

Thursday

Rest day

Friday

Next week is going to get busier. Take your walking time down to 20 mins. Try to move a little faster. Take longer strides and experiment with the speed your legs move at.

Saturday

Rest day

Sunday

20 minutes walking. Tomorrow you will do the same so don’t go mad but make sure you do go out walking today.

Week 2 Duration How? Fast or slow
Monday 30 minutes Brisk Walk
Tuesday Rest  
Wednesday 30 minutes Brisk Walk
Thursday Rest  
Friday 20 minutes Brisk Walk
Saturday Rest  
Sunday 20 minutes Brisk Walk

 

Week 3

This week we introduce a change of pace and start jogging. Small jogging intervals will get you on the road to 5k.

Monday

Begin with a brisk walk.

Tuesday

Scheduled as a rest day when the programme is in full swing. If you are keen to get going then week 3 can be a chance to experiment with your jogging.

Wednesday

20 minutes in total. Walk for 1 minute then ease into a gentle jog for 1 minute. Experiment with the length of your stride, where your hands feel most comfortable and concentrate on taking nice deep breaths.

Thursday

Rest day.

Friday

Try to increase your jogging time. Walk for 1 minute then jog for 2 minutes repeating the cycle for 20 minutes.

Saturday

Rest day

Sunday

A brisk walk lasting 20 minutes, you have had a busy week so stride out but don’t run. You body will enjoy the lower level activity.

Week 3 Duration How? Fast or slow
Monday 20 minutes Brisk Walk
Tuesday 10 minutes 1 min walk 1 min jog
Wednesday 20 minutes 1 min walk 1 min Jog
Thursday Rest  
Friday 20 minutes 1 min walk 2 min jog
Saturday Rest  
Sunday 20 minutes Brisk Walk

Week 4

Monday

At the end of week 3 you managed to build your jogging time up to 2 mins with walking intervals of 1 min. Well done. The first training run of week 4 is exactly the same 20 minutes walking for 1 minute jogging for 2 minutes.

Tuesday

Rest day

Wednesday

Jogging for two minutes might have been a challenge last week. Today we increase the time, 1 minute walking with 3 minutes jogging. Good luck.

Thursday

A well earned rest day

Friday

Repeat Wednesdays workout 1 minute walking with 3 minutes running.

Saturday

Rest day

Sunday

Go for a walk, keep the pace brisk and try to complete at least half an hour.

Week 4 Duration How? Fast or slow
Monday 20 minutes 1 min walk 2 min Jog
Tuesday Rest  
Wednesday 20 minutes 1 min walk 3 min Jog
Thursday Rest  
Friday 20 minutes 1 min walk 3 min jog
Saturday Rest  
Sunday 30 mins Long Brisk Walk

Week 5

Monday

Maintaining the good work from last week complete 1 minute 3 minute repetitions for 20 minutes.

Tuesday

Rest day

Wednesday

A new challenge! Increase the jogging interval to 4 minutes. This might seem difficult. Try to ease into a steady rhythm. Don’t go too fast. Remember at the moment we are working to time not distance or speed.

Thursday

Rest day

Friday

Repeat the Wednesday workout. Does it feel easier? If not try to look at what you are doing differently. Be as comfortable as you can.

Saturday

Rest day

Sunday

The longest workout you are asked to do, a brisk walk for 45 minutes. Well done.

Week 5 Duration How? Fast or slow
Monday 20 minutes 1 min walk 3 min Jog
Tuesday Rest  
Wednesday 20 minutes 1 min walk 4 min Jog
Thursday Rest  
Friday 20 minutes 1 min walk 4 min jog
Saturday Rest  
Sunday 45 min Long Brisk Walk

Week 6LEARN TO RUN WITH THIS 8 WEEK 5K LEARN-TO-RUN PROGRAM

Monday

Continue the pattern of repeating last weeks improvement. 1 Minute walk followed by 4 minutes jogging repeat for 20 minutes.

Tuesday

Rest day

Wednesday

A change in running time will give you a further challenge. You can do it. You have succeeded this far and you are over half way. 2 minutes walking followed by 5 minutes jogging for 20 minutes.

Thursday

Rest day.

Friday

A 5 minute brisk walk to start followed by 10 minutes jogging. See how you feel. Try not to stop.

Saturday

Rest day

Sunday

30 minutes mixed pace walking and jogging. There is no time limit to how long you jog for. Do your best and walk when you need to. Try to keep your jogging constant and if you do walk get back to jogging as soon as you can.

Week 6 Duration How? Fast or slow
Monday 20 minutes 1 min walk 4 min Jog
Tuesday Rest  
Wednesday 20 minutes 2 min walk 5 min Jog
Thursday Rest  
Friday 20 minutes 5 min walk 10 min jog
Saturday Rest  
Sunday 30 minutes Mixed pace jog and walk*

*No time limit to how long you jog or walk for.

Week 7

Monday

You had a hard day yesterday. Today’s training run is 20 minutes. Walk for 1 minute and alternate with 4 minutes jogging.

Tuesday

Rest day

Wednesday

5 minutes walking and 10 minutes jogging for 20 minutes in total

Thursday

Rest

Friday

15 minutes steady jogging

Saturday

Rest day

Sunday

40 minutes at a mixed pace. Try to run for 10 minute intervals. If you can do more that’s great.

Week 7 Duration How? Fast or slow
Monday 20 minutes 1 min walk 4 min Jog
Tuesday Rest  
Wednesday 20 minutes 5 min walk 10 min Jog
Thursday Rest  
Friday 15 minutes 15 min jog
Saturday Rest  
Sunday 40 minutes Mixed pace jog and walk*

*Try to spend more time jogging at least 10 mins constantly.

Week 8

Monday

Yesterday was a difficult run. At the end of this week you will attempt your first three mile (5 kilometres). Today is a rest day.

Tuesday

Rest Day

Wednesday

20 minutes at a constant jog. Do your best. If you get tired, keep the walking to 1 minute intervals.

Thursday

Rest day

Friday

25 minute constant jog same rules as Wednesday.

Saturday

Rest day

Sunday

30 – 35 minutes constant jogging.

That’s it! You can now run 3 miles. WELL DONE.

Week 8 Duration How? Fast or slow
Monday Rest  
Tuesday Rest  
Wednesday 20 minutes Constant jog
Thursday Rest  
Friday 25 minutes Constant jog
Saturday Rest  
Sunday 30-35 minutes Approximately 3 miles

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  • Sylvie
    March 16, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Great post! I’ve foward it to my mom who wants to lear how to run. I think it’s perfect for her.

  • Yoly
    March 31, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Thank you for putting this together. When will the 5k be run?

  • Robert Foster
    July 26, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Janice, you truly out-do yourself every time.

    What a great way to break down running.

    Simple yet very effective and not overwhelming.

    I really see the effort you put in to help others.

    What a great leader!

    Keep on running!

  • Alyssa
    September 20, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    I really want to do this. Of course my husband says that this is just another thing I am jumping on and will be on to something else last night.

    • Janice - The Fitness Cheerleader
      September 20, 2010 at 8:50 pm

      My husband said the same thing 10 yrs ago… 3 marathons & 9 half marathons later & he’s wondering when I’ll give it up! Watch out – it’s addictive!

  • Rachel
    October 15, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I’m going to start using this as my training plan — since I’ve already worked up to the point where I can jog/run for a few minutes, is it ok if I skip weeks 1/2?

    • Janice - The Fitness Cheerleader
      October 15, 2010 at 11:39 am

      Absolutely! Try week #3 & see how it goes. If you have any questions thru your training just tweet me or email me & I’ll be glad to help. Good luck & let me know how it goes 🙂

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  • Jon
    December 11, 2010 at 8:51 am

    This looks like an excellent beginners running program. Have you put many people through this system in full?

  • Ross
    January 2, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Some good tips here. I remember when I first started running I couldn’t even jog for five minutes on a treadmill but I slowly build my speed and interval time up using a walk/jog program similar to your own and now I am just about to do my first triathlon!

    My advice to any new runners would be to look at this running program and stick with it!

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