5K & Half Marathon Training Plan for Beginners

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The end of year is approaching and you haven’t checked off “Run a marathon” off your bucket list… Fear not, you can actually achieve that in 4 weeks (the half marathon or 5k that is)!


Let’s face it, 4 weeks is a short amount of time to train for ANY race. But with the right plan and rest, you will be set for success. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in one day. Be patient and listen to your body in order to avoid injuries.


Invest in a good pair of running shoes. Get properly fitted at stores that specialize in running and walking. Your feet will thank you later.


Nutrition is important on a daily basis. It’s even more important if you plan to exhaust your fuels in a way you aren’t used to. The proper meal will supply your body with the necessary nutrition for performance and recovery. Read more on nutritional suggestions for marathon runners here



The plan has optional days, where you have a choice to rest, walk, run or cross-train (XT) with non-impact cardio, such as cycling or elliptical training. You’ll get fitter faster if you choose the rest option only when you feel your body needs it.

Each run uses a five-point intensity scale based on ratings of perceived effort (RPE). Heart-rate monitors can be helpful, but going by how you feel works just as well. Use these guidelines to understand your plan’s intensity scale.

RPE 1: Very Easy—a pleasant effort you feel you could keep up almost indefinitely.
RPE 2: Comfortable—you’re not holding yourself back but you can still easily carry on a conversation.
RPE 3: Comfortably Hard—the highest intensity at which you can speak comfortably.
RPE 4: Hard—after a few minutes at this intensity, your breathing is labored.
RPE 5: Very Hard—an effort that you can sustain for a couple of minutes at most

In Interval Walk/Run workouts, walk the RPE 1 portions if necessary to keep your perceived effort at an appropriate level. In Long Run/Walk workouts, mix walking and running as you see fit or as necessary to keep your RPE between 1 and 2.

4-Week-Beginner-Plan half marathon-01Training plan source



During week 1, try running for 5 to 10 seconds at the beginning of every minute, walking for the remaining 50-55 seconds, and repeating. If, at any point, you start to feel like you’re short on air, walk gently with short strides until your breathing returns to normal.

4-Week-Beginner-Plan 5kTraining plan source



Stay hydrated, bring energy jelly packs to refuel your body during the race. If you don’t know what races to sign up for, start with fun local ones. There are many races out there that are for a great cause, or some challenging obstacle races for the adrenaline lovers.

Or better yet, start your race training from home and end it with a week at Fit Farm and a local race in Gallatin or Nashville!