The Six-Week 5K-Training Program: Fit Check

DC Running Coach Mike Hamberger says six weeks of training is all you need to run your first 5K

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Running a 5K is a great way to raise money for a charity or to squeeze in a training session. For those who have been bit by the “running bug,” a 3.1-mile race is often the best way to start off a new running career.

Mike Hamberger, also known as DC Running Coach, offers this six-week training program designed specifically for a novice runner. Start this regimen now and you’ll be ready for your first 5K just in time for the upcoming Turkey Trot season.

Whether this is your first or last race, Hamberger says, “You will also need to consider not only the distance and/or pace of the workout, but also how you’re running it.” If you notice nagging injuries popping up during your runs, the issue may be either your running form, shoe type, or the surface you’re doing your runs. In that case, Hamberger recommends consulting a physical therapist or running coach.

Hamberger also recommends including strength- or cross-training into your exercise regimen. “I generally encourage beginners to include as much supplementary training as they can, without it being seen as a conflict,” Hamberger says. He says you can space out your runs with a day of rest in between each workout, but there’s no harm in running three days in a row. But it’s also important to take breaks: Don’t pile on the running and training all week long. “Off means off,” when it comes to taking a day of rest.

See Also:

The Track Workout

Treadmill Intervals

The following training program involves three running workouts per week.


Week 1

  • Three 25- to 30-minute runs at your own pace.

Week 2

  • Three 30-minute runs without stopping.

Week 3

  • Two 30-minute runs.
  • One timed one-mile run on a track at maximum effort.

Week 4:

  • Two 30-minute runs.
  • One track workout of six to eight laps, running the straight-aways and jogging the turns.

Week 5:

  • One 30-minute run. 
  • One 40-minute run.
  • One track workout of eight laps, running the straight-aways and jogging the turns (or, run consistently each lap).

Week 6

  • One 30-minute run.
  • Repeat track workout, aiming for eight laps.
  • One 5K race!