8-week 5k training plan

Samuel Quinn Samuel Quinn Personal Training Lead
The 5km distance can be both accessible and challenging depending on your experience. Tailored for beginners looking to get into running, our eight-week training plan combines running with strength training to help improve your cardiovascular fitness and get you ready to run the 5km distance.

Who is this 5k plan for?

With so many running plans available, it can be difficult to find one that suits you. Take a look at the information below to make sure our plan suits you:

  • Level: Beginner
  • Duration: 8 weeks
  • Goal distance: 5km

Why use a training plan?

The best thing about a training plan is that you’ll achieve your goals if you stick to it. Following a plan gives you accountability and is a great way to know exactly what sessions lay between you and your goal.

Tailored to include adequate rest and recovery days, you’ll improve your cardiovascular health, build muscle, and have fun along the way.

So what does our plan involve? Blending running, strength training and recovery days, our eight-week 5km plan is designed to take you from complete novice to 5km finisher in just two months.

Before you start

Before you start, it’s important to access your fitness. This includes:

  • Make sure you are fit enough to run. You can do this by visiting a GP for a check-up
  • Know your limits. You may need to consider any underlying conditions that might limit your cardiovascular health.

Our beginner 5k training plan

A gradual increase in distance and intensity and adequate rest and recovery days are designed to get you across the finish line in an injury and pain-free manner.
This plan is designed to build up your strength, speed, and stamina over the course of eight weeks. It includes intervals, long runs and strength workouts to get you in the best possible shape to complete a 5k at the end of your training.

HTML Table Example
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1 Baseline fitness testing protocol Strength training Rest Long run 10/12 minutes Strength training Rest Rest
Week 2 5 x 1 minute intervals / 60 seconds of recovery Strength training Rest Long run 12/14 minutes Strength training Rest Rest
Week 3 5 x 2 minute intervals / 60 seconds of recovery Strength training Rest Long run 14/16 minutes Strength training Rest Rest
Week 4 5 x 3 minute intervals / 60 seconds of recovery Strength training Rest Long run 16/18 minutes Strength training Rest Rest
Week 5 5 x 4 minute intervals / 60 seconds of recovery Strength training Rest Long run 18/20 minutes Strength training Rest Rest
Week 6 Fitness test repeat Strength training Rest Long run 20/22 minutes Strength training Rest Rest
Week 7 5 x 5 minute intervals / 60 seconds of recovery Strength training Rest Long run 22/24 minutes Strength training Rest Rest
Week 8 Interval training Strength training Rest Strength training Rest Rest 5KM run

Types of run in the 5k plan


Interval training is an essential part of any running plan. Great for beginners, interval training involves alternating short periods of high intensity running with jogging, walking or stationary rest.

Intervals are all about building a strong cardiovascular base. While your Thursday session is run at a low tempo over a long distance, your interval sessions require a high level of intensity for a short period of time.

The interval session in our plan is nicely positioned after a double rest block, allowing you to give your all without worrying about tired legs holding you back.

The long run

The long run is arguably the most important run in your training programme. Designed to condition your muscles to withstand longer distances, this is where you’ll build the stamina and endurance to get you across the finish line come race day.

Conveniently positioned after your midweek rest, the long run is all about length and longevity. It’s the closest you’ll get to running a 5k before race day and is designed to be ran at a slower pace than your speedier interval sessions.

Strength training

Strength training helps improve muscle growth and reduce the risk of injury when you’re running. By combining strength training with running, you’re helping take the load off your joints by building up the muscles that surround them.

As the only repeat session in our plan, you’ll be taking on two strength sessions per week. These sessions help replicate the movements you make when running and improve your core fitness and flexibility to get your race day ready.

If you find strength training difficult, you can take a few exercises that work best for you and replicate them either at home or in the gym.

5K Strength Programme
Warm up Sets Reps Rest Load
Cardio pulse raiser 1 120 seconds - -
Bodyweight squat 1 15-20 - -
Bodyweight reverse lunge 1 15-20 - -
Glute bridge 1 15-20 - -
Inchworm with press up 1 15-20 - -
Exercises Sets Reps Rest Load
Goblet squat 3-4 8-12 60 seconds 60-80% 1RM
Deadlift / Hamstring curl 3-4 8-12 60 seconds 60-80% 1RM
TRX reverse lunge 3-4 8-12 60 seconds 60-80% 1RM
Leg press 3-4 8-12 60 seconds 60-80% 1RM
Calf raise 3-4 8-12 60 seconds 60-80% 1RM
Assisted pull up 3-4 8-12 60 seconds BW + assistance
Machine chest press 3-4 8-12 60 seconds 60-80% 1RM
Plank 3-4 Hold for 30 seconds 60 seconds Bodyweight
Cool down Sets Reps Rest Load
Hip flexor stretch 1 Hold for 30 seconds - Bodyweight
Pidgeon / figure of 4 stretch 1 Hold for 30 seconds - Bodyweight
Hamstring stretch 1 Hold for 30 seconds - Bodyweight
Cobra spinal flexion > extension 1 Hold for 30 seconds - Bodyweight
Calf stretch 1 Hold for 30 seconds - Bodyweight

Managing pace and effort

The best way to run any race is to find a speed you can maintain for the entire distance and stick to it.

With your long run, prioritise completion and distance over intensity. It’s natural that as the length of your runs increases, the pace you run at drops.

Don’t start too fast and make sure you’re focused on keeping an even tempo.

The value of rest and recovery

Rest and recovery are as important as clocking miles out on the road. Remembering to cool down after every session and stretch helps keep muscles loose and limber ahead of your next session.

Some other great ways to keep your muscles feeling fresh include:

  • Using a foam roller on your IT band/quad/hips/calves
  • Completing band-assisted hamstring stretch/couch stretch
  • Using a massage gun to relieve tension in your muscles.

Learn more about rest and recovery

Raceday checklist

For even veteran runners, feeling a bit nervy on race day is completely normal. It’s important to remember that all the hard work you’ve put in will carry you the distance on the big day.

Our checklist below helps make sure you don’t forget anything on the day:

  • Stretch before and after the race. Stretching will ensure you’re limber and loose at the start line and help to repair any damage done during the race.
  • Rest, relax and put your feet up. Running or training the day before will only hamper your performance during the race.
  • Keep it simple. Eat something light and familiar in the morning whilst sipping some water or energy drink to stay hydrated.

New to running? Find all your beginner essentials in one place

Top tips

  • If you’re finding the pace of your long run too fast, slow down. Maintaining a consistent pace throughout your run is the best way to avoid burnout.
  • Remember to stretch before and after every session run to prevent injury.
  • Sleep, rest and recovery are just as important as mileage. This is the time when your body builds and repairs the muscles that make you stronger.
  • Stick to your plan as it is designed to get you across that finish line come race day.

I’m injured. Now what?

Unfortunately, no matter how well we prepare, injuries can happen. They can be frustrating and feel like a step backwards; however prioritising your end goal and taking a few days to rest and recover can help you come back stronger.

If you’re concerned about injury, the page below features a range of different treatment and prevention plans for common sporting injuries:

Couch to 5k

If you've never run before, the Couch to 5k programme can be a great place to start. It's helped millions of people get into running and is recommended by the NHS for new runners.

Couch to 5k blends running and walking to start with. You'll build up the amount of jogging and running over time until you are ultimately able to run a 5k without stopping or slowing down.

If you're apprehensive about taking up running or are afraid you're not fit enough currently for a training plan, getting started with Couch to 5k willhelp build your fitness and confidence over time.

What’s next?

A great way to keep motivated after completing your first 5k is to set a new running goal. This gives you something to work towards and helps keep you motivated. 

If you’re looking for a new challenge, click one of the links below to start on one of our new training plans.


Parkrun is a great way to maintain your 5k fitness.

Taking place in parks up and down the country, parkrun is a completely free volunteer led event that allows you to complete a 5km distance in an inclusive and safe environment every Saturday morning. Click the link below to find out more about what parkrun can do for you:

Last updated Wednesday 17 January 2024

First published on Friday 28 July 2023