Setting goals for your 5K training is really important. Lately I’ve been answering a lot of questions on Quora and Reddit from people asking questions like:

  • How can I train for my first 5K run when I don’t run?
  • What is a training schedule to run a 5K?
  • How long does it take to train for a 5K run?
  • How do you train for a 5K?
  • What kind of training should be done for a 5K?

Some of the answers I’ve witnessed from other experts have ranged from completely useless to very good but they are all over the place. There’s a lot of people out there with a lot of advice and it comes at you from all directions. The best approach with everything is: Keep It Simple!!

Set Yourself A Goal

The one uniform answer I’ve been working on with these people is, set yourself a goal of running a 5K that’s roughly 8 weeks away. Without the goal, you’ll lack the motivation to actually train and easily make excuses to stop training. If it’s in a shorter period than 8 weeks, most training plans can be adjusted accordingly but don’t be too aggressive trimming the early work as this usually sets the foundation for the harder training that comes later in the program.

Have A Structure

Without a proper structure to your training and a decent plan, you’ll end up going for a lot of aimless runs that may or may not do anything to helping you achieve your end goal. I’ve done a few personality tests including a pretty neat one from Gallup which identified one of my top personality traits is being competitive. With this in mind, I find it easy to stay motivated with training because I’m always competing with myself or others to be better at what I do (sometimes this is a bad trait although I consider myself a good sport and can handle not winning…just!!). If you can find your motivations or personality traits, then this can also help you to identify the best way to set your goals or at least help you understand why you want to run!!

Once You Do Your Race/Run, Set Yourself Another Goal

Once you’ve done your 5K run/race, set yourself another goal. It doesn’t have to be straight away, in fact, having a week or two off after a race is a good idea to refresh and make you hungry for your next target race/run. It may or may not be a 5K run/race you’re planning on doing next, but to keep you motivated, don’t be scared to set yourself another goal. That goal might be to just do another 5K and better your last time or just to finish the 5K feeling better than the previous one. Just make sure you set yourself that goal. Here’s some good ideas with your goal setting…

Keep a record of each time you run a 5K run/race:

  • What time you achieved (maybe even your place)
  • What was the weather like. Some people enjoy racing in colder weather, maybe you enjoy the hotter weather!!
  • How you felt when running
  • What went well with your run/race and why
  • What went wrong with your run/race and why
  • Food or drink that you had leading up to the run/race and even the day before (it’s often neat to have a favorite food you eat the night before although this can have minimal impact on race day)
  • Sleep you had the night before
  • Think about what motivated you to do the run and what keeps you motivated to run

If you’re just running for fun, just try and keep a mental note about the run and don’t take it too seriously!! You’re meant to be enjoying yourself!!