How to Run a 5K in 30 Days

Now that season four of Game of Thrones has come to its glorious finale, and the weather is warm enough to stay outdoors in shorts and tees—morning or night, the universe seems to be sending us a message: We’re expanding, so get up, get out and go get some muscle tone. What’s one of the quickest, no-fuss ways to do that? Training to run a 5K.

Why? First, if you’re new to running, it’s a goal most people can accomplish. It doesn’t require too much training time or allow much boredom. At the very least, it’s much easier than attempting a full marathon—most people will reach the finish line in under 30 minutes.

Where? If you keep it local, you may even be able to entice some friends to register with you. Plus, it will make it harder to drop out if you’ve made plans to run the race together.

How? The key is to run often and to incorporate hill workouts with some strides. It’s absolutely possible to finish a 5K if you give yourself a month to prepare. With three months, you could come really close to reaching your maximum potential a.k.a. the fastest 5K your body is capable of.

-Run four or five times a week, for three to five miles, or, if it’s easier to remember, 25 to 45 minutes at a time.

-Twice a week, do four to six strides post run. What are strides?  About 15-second repeats using about 80 percent of sprint effort. Get your knees up, turn over your legs quickly, feel light on your feet, and engage your shoulders (not arms).

-Once a week, find the steepest incline or hill possible which you can sprint. Do four to eight 10-second repeats, going all out, every five days. Be sure you’re warmed up, and be aware of how your achilles and calves feel. Don’t overdo it: You can start with three to five repeats and increase that number in subsequent workouts.

-Once a week, run eight miles.

Then what? If this is your first race, see how you feel afterwards. If you end up enjoying running, and you’re not injured, you’ll probably want to sign up for something else right away. It’s a gateway to other races—a 10K is a logical next step. And perhaps, one day further down the line, a marathon might just be in sight.