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5K Walk Training Schedule for Beginners

Train to Enjoy Your First 5K Walk

By

Updated May 28, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Walker at 5K Walk/Run

Walker at 5K Walk/Run

John Moore / Getty Images News
Jacqui Joseph Finishes Adidas Women's 5K Challenge

Jacqui Joseph Finishes Adidas Women's 5K Challenge

Felix Kunze / Getty Images Entertainment

If you have signed up for a 5K walk, such as a charity event, but don't regularly walk for fitness, take a few weeks to train for it so you can enjoy the event without the agony of the feet.

The good news is that the basic training for a 5K walk includes the amount of exercise recommended as the minimum amount to reduce your health risks and maintain optimum health.

Five kilometers is 3.1 miles and it can be walked in 45 to 60 minutes.

5K Beginner Training Goals

  • Be able to walk a 5K walk (3.1 miles) in one hour or less
  • Improve walking posture and form
  • Finish a 5K walk feeling energized rather than exhausted

5K Beginner Prerequisites

This schedule is for beginners who are normally active without significant health complaints but who do not regularly engage in fitness walking.
Should you seek medical advice before starting?

The Beginner 5K Walk Training Schedule

Increase the time you spend walking each week before working on speed. If you find any week to be difficult, repeat that week rather than adding more time, until you are able to progress comfortably.

Week 1: Getting Started

  • Time: Start with a daily 15 minute walk at an easy pace. Weekly total goal: 60 - 75 minutes.
  • Walk five days the first week. We want to build a habit, so consistency is important. Spread out your rest days, such as making day 3 a rest day and day 6 a rest day.
  • Shin Splints: a common problem for beginners is feeling the pain of shin splints during their first week or two of walking training. How to Prevent and Treat Shin Splints
Week 2: Work on Your Walking Form
  • Time: Add 5 minutes a day so you are walking 20 minutes, 5 days a week. Or you may wish to extend yourself more on some days, followed by a rest day. Weekly total goal: 75 - 100 minutes.
  • Walking Form: Use your walks this week to concentrate on developing good walking posture and technique. This can greatly improve your ease of walking and improve your speed.
    Walking Form Technique for Beginners
Week 3: Walk at a Moderate Pace
  • Time: Add 5 minutes a day so you are walking 25 minutes, 5 days a week. Weekly total goal: 100 - 125 minutes.
  • Walk at a moderate, determined pace
    • may be breathing noticeably
    • able to carry on a full conversation while walking
    • not out of breath
  • Now that you have been walking regularly for a couple of weeks, consider whether you need walking shoes that will allow your best performance. You should also switch to socks made of sweat-wicking fabric to help prevent blisters.
    How to Choose Walking Shoes
    Before You Buy Walking Socks
Week 4: Add a Long Day
  • Time: Add 5 minutes a day to walk 30 minutes, 4 days a week, at a moderate pace. We will keep most of your within-week walks at this distance and speed. Weekly total goal: 125 - 150 minutes.
  • Make your fifth day a mileage-building day. Each week between now and your 5K walk, add time to one long day a week. For week 4, this walk should be 40 minutes long at an easy pace.
  • Drinking right: Now that you are walking for more than 30 minutes, you should locate a source of water so you can have a drink each mile. If there are no handy drinking fountains, you may want to carry water with you. It is best to carry it in a fanny pack with a water holster, rather than carrying a bottle in your hand, as that can lead to muscle strain and poor walking form.
Week 5: Work on Speed
  • Time: Walk 30 minutes a day four days a week.
  • Long Walk: walk 45 minutes at an easy pace.
  • Building speed: During each of your shorter walks, concentrate on improving your walking form to add speed. If you have not been using arm motion, this can be the key to increasing speed. Fast Walking Technique
Week 6: Build Mileage
  • Time: Walk 30 minutes a day four days a week, paying attention to form and speed techniques.
  • Long Walk: walk 60 minutes at an easy pace.
  • Once you have accomplished this time, you know you will be able to complete the 5K. Our continued training will help you to achieve it in comfort.
  • Blister prevention: Now that you are walking longer and faster, you may experience a hot spot or blister. Learn how to prevent and treat blisters.
Weeks 7 and 8: Add Intervals
  • At this point, you could complete your 5K walk. But if you have the time to build your aerobic fitness and speed, add interval workouts to your shorter within-week walks while keeping your long walk at an easier pace.
  • Interval Workouts: The Economy Walk builds speed, do it for one workout each week. The Anaerobic Threshold Walk builds aerobic fitness, do it for one workout each week. When adding these workouts, you may reduce your workout week to one day of an Economy walk, a rest day, one day of the Threshold Walk, a rest day or two, and then the Long Walk one day a week.
  • Long Walk: walk 60 minutes at an easy pace. Once you have accomplished this time, you know you will be able to complete the 5K. Our continued training will help you to achieve it in comfort.
Week 9 and Beyond
  • If you still have time before your 5K walk, you can turn your long walk of the week into a simulated race every-other week. Aim to walk it at 80% of the speed that you hope to walk the 5K, rather than keeping it to an easy pace.
  • You can also increase the distance of your long walk on the week where you are keeping the pace easy. Add 15 minutes to it every-other week. The increased distance and time will help build your stamina and endurance. Before you know it, you will be seeking out the 10K walks and half marathons!

Race Day Checklist

The week of your 5K walk, prepare with this Walking Event Checklist and advice on how to walk during a group walking event.

Celebrate!

You have accomplished a great goal. You have trained properly to become a true walking athlete. Wear your event t-shirt or medal with pride.

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