How to run a 5K in 21 weeks

Keep telling yourself this is going to be the year you start running? Start off slow with this easy plan.

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Learn how to run a 5K now.
Photo, Istockphoto.

Phase 1: Conditioning (let’s start up our engines)
During this seven-week phase, you will gradually increase the length of your training sessions to prepare your body. This is the time to concentrate on your running technique. It’s also the ideal time to incorporate flexibility and strengthening routines into your schedule (which we’ve added links to under this schedule!). I recommend starting and finishing all your training sessions with a five-minute walk. At the end of this program, you’ll be able to run for 35 minutes!
5k Running Guide _Phase1

Related workouts:
Best 10-minute flexibility workout
Stretching 101: Four basic stretches and when to do them
Four easy moves to kick up your cardio
Four exercises that build strength, not bulk

Phase 2 : Endurance and speed
During this phase, we increase the length of the continuous running sessions. We integrate intervals of training at medium intensity, which are designed to increase cardio strength. We also add strides, which aim to increase your speed. For strides, all you have to do is gradually increase your speed until you reach a speed you can maintain during a 5K, without going at the maximum speed. We also incorporate several weeks with four running training sessions.

At the end of this phase, you’ll do a run simulation. On a 3K course, try to maintain the speed you intend to keep during your final 5K run. You can even do a sprint at the end. Go ahead, go wild!

(Note: RS = Recovery speed; S=Speed)

5k Running Guide Phase 2Phase 3: Specific endurance
Only seven weeks left until the big day! During this last phase, we add intervals at a higher speed. The last week before the run, kick into energy accumulation mode by resting well. At the end of this phase, you will be ready to truly enjoy your 5K run!

5k Running Guide Phase 3
Jean-François Harvey is a kinesiologist and an osteopath from Montreal, he’s also the author of the running book Courir Mieux