The COMPLETE Guide & Training Plan for a 5K + 12 FREE Tools
These days, you can find a training plan for a 5K or couch-to-5K everywhere. There are countless 5K training plans, couch to 5K plans, or other resources for training for a 5k.
As a runner myself, I feel overwhelmed sometimes to where I’m not sure where to even start. (Or maybe it’s just my lazy half domineering)
But I digress. I truly always believed the best 5K training plan is just to lace up your shoes, go outside, and start running. Shoot, even if you can get yourself on a treadmill, that could technically count towards a 5K training plan.
And while I do find plans to be helpful because they offer structured and planned methods to help you succeed, our team of running enthusiasts believe it takes much more to help you run your best 5K or 10K.
Here, we’ve compiled 12 FREE running tools that will be invaluable and perhaps even essential to your success in running your best 5K..
Get a Tracking Device
The good news is if you’re not on a 5K or 10K training plan for a pro, you won’t need a $300 garmin watch to start. There are awesome and free tools you can download on your phone to track your distance, time, and pace before you go out for a run.
These are great tools to help keep track of your runs which is essential for your training.
Map at Your Course
Why is it important to map out your course in your training for a 5K or 10K? Because you want to be able to have a goal and know where to run. This works even if you plan to run in your neighborhood!
And the best part is if you already have a route you figured out and love, you can map out the distance of your favorite route afterwards too.
We recommend MapMyRun as a great tool to map out the exact distance of your course before or after your run!
Set a Goal / Have a Plan
Marathons, Half-Marathons, and even 5K and 10K’s aren’t done overnight. They require discipline, training, and a plan.
The plan doesn’t need to be strict or stringent but it should be preferably a tested plan by someone else who has gone through the process before. Fortunately, we have a few simplified sample plans below:
Sign-up for a race
One of the best ways to set a goal is to go ahead and sign-up for a race! Even if it’s 3-6 months ahead. This way, you’ll have something set to work towards. Races are a fun way to also put all of your training and hard work to the test.
And even if you don’t accomplish a PR or a goal, you learn a lot in the journey itself!
The great thing is there are free virtual races you can sign-up to that offer a lot of freebies in the virtual packet.
Go get Fitted at a Running Shoe Store
This is key and crucial, particularly for longer distances such as a marathon or half-marathon to have a professional look at how you run and recommend some better fitting shoes.
It makes a tremendous difference in optimizing comfort and what suits your body the best.
You can look up any Running Shoe Store closest to you. An assessment of how you naturally run is free and the store will tell you what shoes would fit you well.
Join a Local Run Group
There are lots of local run groups right around the corner! You can do a quick search on local running groups. Running groups are incredible opportunities to not only only hold each other accountable but just to have fun while you run and connect with others with the same interests!
As they say, it’s much easier to run with others than to run on your own.
Keep a simple journal/log
Keeping a simple journey is important in tracking your progress. It doesn’t need to be complex and can just be the mileage you’re logging each day.
It also doesn’t need to be stringent where it’s okay if you miss a few days because life happens.
But it helps to be able to look at how you’re progressing each week and how you can tweak your progress or make any changes you may need to get closer to your goals.
Track your progress
Aside from a journal, there are other ways to track your progress! A great way to do this is just by signing up for a few other runs or races along the way. Putting yourself to the test and even in a race setting helps you to get more experience performing like it’s the real thing.
Training runs and even group runs have a very different feel than when you have a chip timer on your bib!
Share your progress
A great motivating tool to help keep you going is just by sharing your progress with others!
By sharing your progress, not only do you gain motivation and encouragement from friends/family but you also become an inspiration to many others that can be inspired to also start running.
So get on your social media and post your results, your PR’s, your before-and-after pictures, and anything to share your progress and inspiration!
Watch your diet
This tip is vital and unfortunately often a trap for most beginning runners.
When people normally start out running, they will burn a lot more calories than usual and naturally feel more hungry than normally. However, this is NOT a free pass to eat whatever you want.
In fact, a lot of runners who log in a lot of miles can often see their scales increase. This is because it’s simply easier to intake calories than it is to burn calories.
Consider a regular glazed donut that is about 200 calories. It would take half an hour of running or 45 minutes – 1 hour of walking to burn off what you can probably swallow down in less than a minute!
Muscle strains and injuries are quite common for running. A lot of runners may feel prolonged aching or even some injuries to their knees, shins, feet, and more.
This is because naturally if you’re hammering the ground repeatedly for hours at a time, it’s not always the best thing for most people’s bodies.
However, it’s still essential to get your body into good shape before your run, particularly your cardiovascular and lung capacity.
This is where cross-training comes in and is a crucial element to your 5K/10K training plan. Cross-training is doing any other physical training that helps you prepare for your race.
This can include weight-lifting, swimming, cycling, kick-boxing, dance classes, sports, etc. Find something you enjoy so you can do it for more prolonged periods of time without getting bored!
It’s important to celebrate your achievements and even your progress. Celebrating helps you enjoy the journey you’re taking. Even if it’s as simple as going out for ice cream or enjoying your favorite meal after you’ve completed a long run. Don’t forget to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished!