5k Tips for Beginners

An AALS Teacher of the Year Award-winning instructor, Mary Margaret “Meg” Penrose currently serves as a law professor at the Texas A&M School of Law in Fort Worth, Texas. An active runner, Mary Margaret Penrose has participated in numerous 5k races, having won several Master's and age group awards. She has also coached runners in the Run On Texas training program. Her fastest 5k time is just under 21 minutes. 

A key element of preparing to run a 5k for the first time is developing a consistent pre-run routine. This should consist of warm-ups that include dynamic stretching to adequately prepare the muscles for exertion and encourage blood flow while promoting greater flexibility. Walking lunges and high knees are good examples of dynamic stretching. A five-minute warmup walk after stretching is suggested as well.

The first training runs should consist of an interval regimen that alternates between walking, jogging, and running. Programs such as Couch to 5k offer good advice for progression in these intervals. A good rule of thumb for the first week, however, is to aim for three days a week of 20 to 30-minute intervals.

Once race day comes, make sure you show up a bit earlier than you think you need to be there. One hour before the official starting time is a safe window. Sign-ups and other pre-race events can often be time-consuming and showing up early also allows for bathroom breaks and last-minute mental preparation.