Short and snappy, 5K races are the perfect distance for beginners targeting a first race – but an equally satisfying summer target for a speed-demon with more racing experience.
This is the destination for all things 5K – all the schedules, guides, advice and hard-won wisdom you need to make it to the start line for the first time.
And when you’ve notched up that first brilliant guaranteed PB, we’ve got the tools to help you hone in on your target and smash it.
Of course, if you're pushed for time and can only read one article, make it this one:
10 Ways To 5K Success (non-subscriber preview)
One distance – some very different approaches. We’ve got 5K wisdom for racers with aims from run-walk to record time.
5K is a perfectly manageable distance for beginners - in fact, you could be toeing the line just a few weeks after you take your first running steps.
Find a race
Every spring/summer, Britain sees thousands of women line up for the Cancer Research UK Race for Life 5K events, while men can take on events like the Cancer Research UK Run for Moore and Everyman Keep Your Eye on the Ball races. Charity races are a friendly, inclusive introduction to running – and will leave you feeling very proud both of your progress as a runner, and from doing something to raise money for a good cause.
Of course, if you'd rather give the fundraising a miss for now, you'll still find hundreds of other 5Ks taking place across the UK in our event listings, all of which promise a warm welcome to first-time racers.
Follow a programme
Whether you’re hoping to walk or run, or plan to do a bit of both, a training programme – even a very basic one – will make the world of difference . Why? Two reasons. One is that you'll never have to wonder whether you're overdoing it or underdoing it. You'll be right on target. The other is that you'll never have to think about what to do on a particular day. You get up, your session is there, you do it. Perfect.
5K: Beginner's six-week schedule
This assumes you don't run at all yet. It's designed to get you round 5K comfortably, probably with a few short walk breaks.
5K: Intermediate six-week schedule
A step up from our beginner's schedule, aimed at runners who comfortably run 30 minutes four times a week.
Your questions answered
Your First 5K: Q+As
Find out what to do, eat and think before your first 5K with the answers to some of your most common questions.
You'll also find stacks of useful information in our BIG Q+A Index. Here's a selection of your most popular 5K puzzlers:
- How should I prepare for my first 5K?
- What speedwork should I do for my first 5K?
- How can I avoid stitches?
What to expect on race day
Your First Race
From safety pins to stitches, gen up on everything you need to know to make race day go according to plan.
Eight Keys To A Great Race
How to make race day go your way - guaranteed!
IMPROVERSWhether you’re ready for another crack at your 5K PB or a seasoned runner looking for a change from longer distances, these expert guides will help you whittle down your 5K times.
5K By the Numbers
Twelve-week tailored schedule that uses your previous PB to help you reach your new target.
A six-week schedule based on a time trial - we give you the speed sessions, you fill in the rests and easy days.
Fast Lane – PB Ready in One Week
If you’ve popped a last-minute race into your diary, there’s still time to sharpen up. Get some speed in your legs, pronto, with our guide to being race-ready in just a week.
Why is the last mile of a 5K so hard?
It’s short, but it’s not that short. Wave goodbye to pacing problems with our tips to help you tackle that tricky final stretch.
Racing against the clock over the same course week in week out is not only a quick and easy way to build your confidence ahead of the summer, it’s a sociable, less pressurised way to spice up your schedule too.
Time Trial Training
Fix up, look sharp – keep tabs on your training by finding space in your schedule for time trials.
One last thing...
Don't go it alone! Need advice? Want to share a story? Or just fancy seeing what everyone else is up to? Drop into our friendly forums – they’re full of runners who’ve been there, done that, and have the race T-shirt to prove it.