The First Step Running Plans are designed for people just getting started in running with minimal to no running background. For many people, the biggest obstacle is that first run. However, just because you are new to running doesn't mean you can't train optimally. The First Step 5k Running Plan helps build you to the point of being able to complete a 5k within 8 weeks while providing optimal training and fundamentals of running.
One of the most common things I see from new runners is running the same distance, same route, and same effort every day. There should be variation in your training - even if you're just starting. The First Step Running Plan for 5k builds you up to 2 workouts a week on Tuesday and Friday, a Saturday Long Run, a regular run on Monday, and an easy shuffle on Thursday. However, you tweak the plan to make it work for you. The mile plan is slightly more advanced than the 5k plan and focuses on giving a beginner runner the platform to run a faster mile over the course of 8 weeks.
The First Step Running plans serve as an introduction to running and prepare you to progress to the next step. You can complete the First Step Running plans and then progress onto the next tier of running plans that are customizable and slightly more advanced.
If you are unsure about anything on the plans, please feel free to Contact Me. Once you have reached a new personal best, please feel free to submit your time to try and qualify for our top-10 list, or just offer general feedback.
If you like the plans, please consider donating to help the cause and allow us to keep bringing free running plans to the masses.
All distances on the First Step Running Plans are listed in minutes instead of miles or kilometer. Not all new runners have purchased GPS watches or have miles or km routes measured out. This keeps it simple so you can get out the door immediately. While the goal should be to run as many of the minutes listed for that day, some walking is completely acceptable if you can't run the entire time listed.
The time listed for each day includes the workout times. For example, if your schedule suggests a total of 15 minutes and a workout totaling 8 minutes, then place the workout in the middle of your run and include a warm-up and cool-down to reach the total time for the day..
On workout days, try to take your time warming up. You may be excited about your workout, but try and slow yourself down on the warm-up - even if you are just shuffling. Prior to starting the actual workout, you may want to include some dynamic leg swings, strideouts, static stretching, and anything else to help loosen you up. You may also want to switch into a lighter trainer or racing flat.
I have included a complete warm-up routine for you to follow on workout days, time trials, and races.
On easy days, your pace should be kept as "conversational", or about 2-2:15 minutes per mile slower than your current 5k per mile fitness. Ensure you also have one day per week that you take exceptionally slow. The warm-up and cooldowns should be a shuffle, but some people need to go slightly harder on the warm-up to get their body loose. Find what works for you on workout days so your routine is perfect come race day.
The repetition paces listed are the times you should run for that distance. For example, if a workout says 4x800m with a repetition time of 3:30, then each 800 meter should be completed in 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Please ensure you take into account variables that may slow you down such as hot weather, windy conditions, etc and adjust accordingly.
These are just 10 second effort where you accelerate, hold pace for a few seconds (usually close to goal race pace or workout pace), then decelerate back down. They are not Intended to be a workout, but rather a way to turn the legs over or loosen up for a workout or race. They are not intended to be tiring or a workout themselves. Try to stay relaxed, focus on form, and have walk-back, shuffle back, or standing recovery until you are ready to go again.
If hill sprints are listed on your schedule, they can be completed following a regular or easy run. These should be 10-20 second sprints uphill. Different than strideouts, the focus here should be raw speed, powering up the hill, and turnover. You can take full walk-back recovery and as long as you need to recover in-between.
You are at high risk of injury in the first 3-4 weeks of a new training plan. Prior to starting any of these schedules, you may want to have 3-4 weeks of just easy running. Once you start the plans, you should place extra emphasis on "prehab" and the recovery process during the first 3-4 weeks. This means ensuring you are stretching post-run, working through strengthening and core strength exercises, icing (if that works for you), foam rolling, and self-massage. Treat the recovery process as important as the training itself. If you are concerned about injury, you can always swap out a regular run for a cross-training session, like swimming, biking, elliptical, etc.
Once you have completed your free 8-week running plan and reached a new personal best, please feel free to submit your results. We will be posting the Top-10 verified times for each distance!
If you need any other information, feedback on a current plan, or are a coach/athlete looking to contribute a plan to collaborate, please feel free to reach out.
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