So, you’re thinking about running your first ever 5k. You’ve maybe heard of some friends doing a park run, someone taking on a couch to 5k or you just want to get in shape. 5k is an extremely popular distance for runners of all abilities and is a great first milestone if you are getting into running. Training for your first 5k is a great introduction to running.
In this article, we are going to take a look at exactly how long a 5k is in miles. We’ll also take a look at some tips you can use to make training for your first 5k as successful as possible. Let’s jump in.
How long Is A 5k In Miles?
5k or 5000 meters is equal to 3.1 miles. To complete your 5k race you will have to complete 3.1 miles. Many people mistake the 5k distance as being 3 mile long however this is incorrect. You will have to go slightly further than 3 miles on race day if you want to complete the race.
Average Time To Complete A 5k
Times between runners doing a 5k vary a lot. The time you are able to run will depend on many different factors such as age, gender, running level, and more. Running levels have put together these great charts below highlighting the data on different levels of runners at different age ranges.
You can use these charts to set yourself a goal pace for your first 5k race.
Male 5k Average Running Times By Age & Level
Female 5k Average Running Times By Level
Personally, I like to tackle my 5k goals in 5-minute increments. My first goal was sub 25 minutes and I’m now aiming for a sub 20 5k.
Benefits Of Running 5k Per Day
Running 5k per day can provide a range of Physical and Mental health benefits. However, it is wise to include rest days in your training, especially if you are new to running. This will help your muscles recover and help you to avoid injuries.
Here are some of the benefits you can expect to see when you start running 5k per day.
Improved Cardiovascular Health – Running every day will help to improve your cardiovascular health. Regular running helps to strengthen the heart, improve circulation and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blood transports nutrients and oxygen around the body. Engaging in aerobic exercises such as running will increase your heart rate casting your heart to pump blood more efficiently. This increased blood flow helps to transport nutrients and oxygen to the vital organs in your body.
Increased Endurance – Running every day will help to increase your stamina meaning you can run for longer with the same effort. Over time your endurance will increase allowing you to increase the length of your runs.
Weight Management – Running every day can help with weight management. Running burns an estimated 100 calories per mile however, this will vary significantly depending on your level of fitness, current weight, etc. During a 5k you will burn approximately 300 calories.
Stronger Muscles – Running helps to develop and maintain strength in the lower body, including the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and quads. Pairing your running with a strength training routine can decrease the chances of picking up injuries.
Reduce Stress – There is something blissful about a run for relieving stress. Come home from a stressful day at work, put on your running shoes and head out the door. Running triggers the release of endorphins, which naturally boost your mood.
Better Sleep – Regular exercise, such as running, can lead to improved sleep quality and duration. I notice that on the days when I haven’t done any cardio, I struggle to get to sleep. When I have run, I can usually get to sleep within 10 minutes of putting my head on the pillow.
Social Connections – Running is a great way to meet other like-minded people. You can join a local running club, do park runs or run with a friend. Running clubs will usually have a wide range of runners with a range of abilities. Clubs are not just for the elites.
Goal Setting – Running a 5k every day or following a training plan to hit a 5k PB gives you a goal to aim for. I know when I have a goal in my life I’m much happier and more disciplined. It gives me something to move towards every day when I wake up. Having a goal can motivate you to get out and hit those sessions you might have otherwise skipped.
How Much Weight Can I Lose Running 5k Per Day
Weight loss isn’t necessarily based on how much you run. If you run 5k per day you will burn around 300 calories. However, if you eat those 300 calories back you will not lose any weight.
If you are currently eating at maintenance calories and run 5k per day without changing your diet you would be in roughly a 300-calorie deficit. At this rate, you would be in a 2100-calorie deficit each week. 3500 calories is roughly 1lb of body fat.
This means you would lose approximately 0.6 lbs per week of body fat running 5k per day.
If you want to lose weight, use a maintenance calorie calculator to figure out your current maintenance calories. You can then track your calories using MyFitnessPal and ensure you are in a deficit or approximately 200-300 calories per day. This is a healthy way to lose weight.
How Much Training Do You Need For A 5k
The amount of training you will need to take on a 5k will depend on your current experience. Completely new runners will need longer to adjust to the stress running puts on their bodies than someone who has some previous running experience.
Beginner Running Training
If you are a complete beginner and don’t do any other forms of regular exercise, you will need approximately 8-12 weeks to train for your first 5k.
When starting you should be able to jog for 60 seconds straight. You should find a training plan or take on the couch to 5k if you want to get to the point where you can run a full 5k.
Beginner training plans will have you start out with 60 seconds of running followed by sections of walking. Over the weeks you will build up the length of time you are running until you can eventually run a full 5k.
The coach to 5k training plan is a great place to start and has helped 100s of thousands of runners take on their first 5k.
The Couch To 5k Training Plan (Walk/Run)
Below is a simple Couch to 5k training program we have put together for you. The plan takes 8 weeks and should have you running a complete 5k without walking in that timeframe.
Remember to pace yourself on race day by not going out too fast.
What Do I Need To Run 5k
The beauty of running compared to other sports is the lack of gear you need. You can simply throw on a pair of trainers and head out your door to start. While running can get quite advanced and you can spend a lot of money on gear, it’s absolutely not necessary to start.
The only thing we would recommend is having a decent pair of running shoes. For example, do not go out running in a flat-bottom pair of Converse.
The best thing you can do is head to your local running store and give them your budget. They will be able to find you a shoe that will fit your feet and running style.
Some notable mentions of great beginner training shoes are:
Other than that you technically don’t need anything else however there are some pieces of kit that will make your running journey much more enjoyable.
I would recommend picking up a running watch such as a Garmin or Apple Watch. This will help you track the distances and speeds of your runs.
Watches can get quite expensive and complex but a $300/£250 watch is more than enough for most runners. Last year’s models can be picked up at a discount or even 2nd hand on marketplaces like Facebook or eBay.
Personally, I have been using the Garmin 735XT for the past 3 years and it has served me well. It’s now discontinued but the new model, Garmin 745 is a great choice for your first watch.
If you are not ready to commit to a watch, you can track your runs using Strava on your phone. This does mean you will have to carry your phone with you during your run.
Having some good running clothes is a good idea but you can likely use whatever you have around the house to get started. Investing in a good pair of running shorts or leggings is a good next step. If you run at night you should definitely get some reflective gear, to help you stay safe on the roads.
There’s plenty more gear you can invest in throughout your running journey, but if you are just getting started this is more than enough to get you started.
Tips For Training For Your First 5k
So, it’s time to get out there and actually start training for your first 5k. Here are some tips to help you on your journey to running that first 5k race.
Increase Training Load Gradually – When you are starting out, you want to start gradually and ramp up your training over time. Many people are excited when they first start and end up training too hard, too soon and get injured.
The plan you are following should have you increasing your mileage by no more than 10% per week. Start out by training 3-4 days per week and adding in an extra day when you feel comfortable. This will give you plenty of time to recover between training sessions.
Warm Up/Cool Down – Before starting your runs do a 5-10 minute warm up. This might include some walking or dynamic stretches. End your sessions with a cool down. This may consist of some walking and static stretching.
Join A Running Group – Joining a group or running with a friend will make training much more fun and hold you accountable during your training. You are much more likely to show up to a session if you are meeting someone else. It will also keep the training fun and give it a social aspect.
Stay Hydrated & Fueled – Drink water before, during, and after your runs. Maintain a balanced diet with a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats to support your training.
Focus On Proper Running Form – Maintain good posture, relax your upper body, and avoid overstriding. Aim for a comfortable stride and foot strike that feels natural to you.
Stay Patient And Enjoy The Process – Remember that progress takes time, and it’s normal to experience ups and downs in your training. Focus on the journey, and celebrate your achievements along the way.
That’s all you need to know about running your first 5k or 3.1 miles. Now all that is left to do, is go out there and get after it. Jump into training and enjoy the journey. Within a few weeks or months from now, you will look back and be shocked at how far you have come.
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