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Home arrow Fitness arrow Running arrow Most Effective 3-Day-a-Week Running Plan for 5K

Most Effective 3-Day-a-Week Running Plan for 5K

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield
Dr. Donika Vata
Fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
Last update: July 17, 2023
5 min read 735 Views 0 Comments
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A 5K race is a perfect distance for beginner runners to test themselves and a good starting point for more experienced runners to improve. Success relies on a good training program, but is a 3-day schedule enough to hit your targets?

3 day a week running plan for 5k

Running is a fantastic way to get fit, stay in shape, and increase your happiness.

You can go for long runs whenever you feel like it, or you can schedule specific running days. It’s okay to run without a specific goal, but if you want to improve your running ability and become faster and stronger, it can help to set a goal to work toward.

The 5K, for example, is one way to help you focus and sharpen your running goals. It’s a 5K road race. It’s the shortest of the most popular road running distances, but it still requires a high level of fitness, drive, and willpower.

Read on to see if committing to running three days a week is enough to prepare you for a 5K.

3-Day-a-Week Running Plan for 5K: Who Is It for?

The 3-day-a-week training program is for anybody who wants to prepare themselves for a 5K race. It’s perfect for beginners or intermediate runners who have never entered a running race. Committing to running 3 times a week is about the minimum to get yourself race-ready.

Fitting 3 running days into your personal schedule will help you work on increasing the distance and the intensity of your runs. The program typically combines an easy run, interval training, and a long run. For extra support, consider using a running app for beginners.

You should follow each run day with a rest day to let your body recover. Cramming too many activities into your week can result in injury. That said, 3-day running plans recommend adding cross-training and resistance training to your regimen to boost performance further.

How long does it take to prepare for a 5K?

New runners should train for at least 8 weeks before a 5K race. This gives you time to work on all aspects of your performance. If you’re new to 5K but are already physically fit and run regularly, you can prepare yourself in as little as 6 weeks with the right 5K training plan.

As an advanced runner, 4 weeks should give you enough time to build up your endurance and speed.

Whatever your fitness level or running ability, it’s crucial to give yourself time to prepare physically and mentally for a race. Not only will this enhance your performance on race day, but it will lower the risk of running injuries. Remember that any physical damage will stall your future progress.

Once you’ve mastered your 5K training plan and reached the finish line in good time, you can consider preparing for other races, like the 10K race.

How to Run 3 Days a Week and Get Faster

Running 3 days a week is an excellent starting point for 5K newcomers. But getting to where you want to be before the big day requires a mindful workout routine. It’s not just about running as well as you can; it’s about training your body in the most effective way.

You must incorporate specific workouts to run faster and improve your overall performance. You’ll need to do the same workouts each week, taking a comprehensive approach to your running. These include:

  • Walking breaks: You can switch between walking and running to train your heart and ward off fatigue.
  • Interval training: Interval training helps you build up your speed and basic endurance.
  • Long runs, including tempo runs: A long run gradually builds endurance, while a tempo run can help you run faster for longer because it develops your anaerobic threshold.
  • Hill training: You can add hill training when you begin to feel more comfortable with your runs. It is known to have a positive influence on aerobic capacity and strength.
  • Recovery runs: These runs are a form of active recovery that most runners do within 24 hours following hard workouts. The recovery pace is slower than your usual race pace.
  • Strength training: Strength training strengthens muscles and joints to improve race times and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Cross-training: Many running programs suggest that you cross-train on your assigned days. This means doing an alternative activity to running, such as cycling or swimming. By cross-training, you can continue to increase your cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength while minimizing stress on your bones and joints.

6-week running program

Below, you can see an example of a 3-day-a-week running plan over 6 weeks. Always warm up at an easy pace before moving to a steady pace, and remember to cool down and stretch.

Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6
MondayWarm up at a recovery pace
Low-intensity run/walk for 30 minutes
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
Warm up at a recovery pace
Run/walk for 30 minutes
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
Warm up at a recovery pace
Run/walk for 30 minutes
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
Warm up at a recovery pace
Tempo run – run at a comfortably hard pace for 10–15 minutes
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
Warm up at a recovery pace
Tempo run – run at a comfortably hard pace for 10–15 minutes
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
Warm up at a recovery pace
Run/walk for 30 minutes
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
TuesdayStrength trainingStrength trainingStrength trainingStrength trainingStrength trainingStrength training
WednesdayWarm up at a recovery pace
Run/walk for 30 minutes
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
Warm up at a recovery pace
Run/walk for 30 minutes
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
Warm up at a recovery pace
Run/walk for 30 minutes, adding in 6–8 10-second hill sprints
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
Warm up at a recovery pace
Run/walk for 30 minutes, adding in 8 10-second hill sprints
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
Warm up at a recovery pace
Run/walk for 30 minutes. Add in 25-second intervals of high-intensity running. Jog slowly in between intervals and repeat for 10–15 minutes
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
Warm up at a recovery pace
Run/walk for 30 minutes. Add in 30-second intervals of high-intensity running. Jog slowly in between intervals and repeat for 15 minutes
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
ThursdayRest day or cross-trainRest day or cross-trainRest day or cross-trainRest day or cross-trainRest day or cross-trainRest day or cross-train
FridayWarm up at a recovery pace
Run/walk 3 miles
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
Warm up at a recovery pace
Run/walk 3 miles
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
Warm up at a recovery pace
Run/walk 3.5 miles
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
Warm up at a recovery pace
4-mile long run
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
Warm up at a recovery pace
Run 4.5 miles
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
Warm up at a recovery pace
3.1-mile run
Cool down with a 10-minute walk
SaturdayStrength trainingStrength trainingStrength trainingStrength trainingStrength trainingShort recovery run
SundayRest dayRest dayRest dayRest dayRest dayRest day

FAQs

Is it enough to only run 3 times a week?

Running 3 times a week is definitely enough to reap the health benefits, minimize the risk of injury, and become a better runner. You may want to run more often if you’re preparing for race day, but remember that running more often increases your risk of injury.

How do I start running 3 times a week?

You can start by choosing a training program and deciding which days you’ll run, leaving room for rest days. Alternate between running and walking intervals, and try to find a comfortable pace before adding speed workouts to your schedule.

Can you improve your 5K time by training 3 times a week?

Running 3 times a week is certainly enough to improve your 5K time. The most important thing is to stay consistent and focus on the quality of your training plan. You can combine different strategies during your workouts to improve your speed and goal time.

A Word From a Running Coach

Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise, with good reason. Whether you’re running to lose weight, tone up and transform your body shape, or enhance your cardiovascular fitness, a good running regimen and training plan can help you get results.

It can help lower blood pressure, increase bone density, build muscle strength, support joints, and boost mental well-being.

Training for a 5K encourages you to become a better runner as you build endurance, strength, and speed. 3 quality training sessions per week are enough to help you run faster for longer to achieve your target race pace. Adding strength training on non-run days will further benefit your journey.

Make sure you wear the right clothing and, most importantly, a comfortable pair of running shoes.

Conclusion

If you’re a goal-oriented runner, training 3 times a week is ideal for a 5K training plan. It gives you enough time to work on your form and speed while allowing enough recovery days to make sure your body repairs itself before your next run.

The 3-day-a-week training plan is a great place to start if you’re interested in running a 5K for the first time or if you want to break your average pace. Just take it one workout at a time and watch your confidence grow.

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
The article was fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
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Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield
Dr. Donika Vata
Fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
Last update: July 17, 2023
5 min read 735 Views 0 Comments
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