5K Training : Novice

About the Novice Program

This Novice 5K Training Plan is designed for beginning runners or for runners who want to take a low-mileage approach to their training. Never run before? This one's for you. This program works best if you have a goal 5K in 8 weeks. Set that race as your end date and use it as a focus of your training. Even if you do not have a goal 5K at the end of 8 weeks, Hal Higdon's 5K Novice program is a great way to begin your life as a runner.

Interactive program available on

At a glance

Author: Hal Higdon

Length: 8 Weeks

Typical Week: 3 Run, 3 Day Walk, 1 Day Off

Longest Workout: 3 miles

What do I get?

  • Stay motivated for your 5K race with daily tips from Hal in your inbox
  • Monitor your progress within TrainingPeaks’ online tools, apps, and wearable integrations
  • Access charts and graphs to understand training load
  • Tap into TrainingPeaks experience

Hal on his Novice Program

The following 5K novice training program lasts eight weeks and climaxes at the end of Week 8 with a 5K (3.1 mile) race. It is among the easiest programs I offer both online and in books. If you are a beginning runner, just about to take your first running step, this is the program for you.

“Do you need to race to call yourself a runner?” I ask in my book, RunFast. Not really. Nevertheless, nailing a fast time in a 5K and comparing it a few months or years later to a time previously run can be an important motivational tool.

5K Novice assumes that you have no major health problems, are in reasonably good shape, and have done at least some jogging or walking. If running 1.5 miles for your first workout in Week 1 seems too difficult, you might want to begin with my Beginning Runner’s Guide. If 5K Novice seems too easy, consider 5K intermediate or even 5K advanced.

The terms used in the training schedule are somewhat obvious, but let me explain what I mean anyway.

Rest: Rest days are as vital as training days. They give your muscles time to recover so you can run again. Actually, your muscles will build in strength as you rest.

Run: Don’t worry about how fast you run; just cover the distance–or approximately the distance suggested. Ideally, you should be able to run at a pace that allows you to converse comfortably while you do so.

Run/Walk: There’s nothing in the rules that suggests you have to run continuously, either in training or in the 5K race itself. Run until fatigued; walk until recovered.

Walk: Don’t worry about how fast you walk, or how much distance you cover. Begin with about 30 minutes and add 5 minutes a week until you peak with a full hour in Week 7.

The following schedule is only a guide. Feel free to make minor modifications to suit your work and family schedule. You will find more information on 5K training in my book, RunFast.

Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 Rest or run/walk 1.5 m run Rest or run/walk 1.5 m run Rest 1.5 m run 30 min walk
2 Rest or run/walk 1.75 m run Rest or run/walk 1.5 m run Rest 1.75 m run 35 min walk
3 Rest or run/walk 2 m run Rest or run/walk 1.5 m run Rest 2 m run 40 min walk
4 Rest or run/walk 2.25 m run Rest or run/walk 1.5 m run Rest 2.25 m run 45 min walk
5 Rest or run/walk 2.5 m run Rest or run/walk 2 m run Rest 2.5 m run 50 min walk
6 Rest or run/walk 2.75 m run Rest or run/walk 2 m run Rest 2.75 m run 55 min walk
7 Rest or run/walk 3 m run Rest or run/walk 2 m run Rest 3 m run 60 min walk
8 Rest or run/walk 3 m run Rest or run/walk 2 m run Rest Rest 5K Race

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