Training for Your First 5K – Week 3

Training for Your First 5k - Week 3 video

Get ready to run and show off your athletic skills!

A 5K is a manageable, fun race to run and it can be a milestone for beginners who want to try bigger, longer races! There are hundreds of interesting 5K races to run year round and in any state. A race can be in your local area, in another state, or have a special ‘theme’ for the run you participate in. 


Whether you want to run hills or prefer running downhill, a flat course, a night course, or you just want to achieve your best PR, there’s a special race out there for you! Choosing one that gets you motivated is the goal and sticking to a program up to race day is the plan!

I’m assuming you’ve registered for your big race, but if you have not… what are you waiting for? This is a friendly ‘check-in’ reminded and a bit of a push to make sure you have registered for your race.

I commend you thus far for all your hard work and dedication. Race day is on, and approaching soon. So let’s go over some important concepts that will help you prepare for your training.


Hydration is an important part of a training program. It’s necessary to supply your body with water or a sports drink before, during, and post workouts / runs in order to remain hydrated properly. If you let your body become dehydrated, you risk the chance of your body cramping and injury may occur. Plus it’s not a fun experience to go through. So, let’s make sure you stay hydrated at all times!


Fueling your body with the proper nutrients is crucial when training hard for a specific event. The right nutrients are needed for sustained energy as well as replenishing muscles and tissues for repairing. It’s important to learn about the proper food intakes that are best for you, pre and post workout, to keep the muscles fueled with good nutrients. This will help you feel energized for your next workout.


Stretching is seriously one of the most important concepts of every training program. Everyone knows it’s good for them, yet why don’t more people do it? I urge you to start adding it into your daily schedule. Whether it’s stretching on your own, taking a yoga class, or having someone stretch you, there is tremendous value and rewarding benefits from doing so.

Pre-stretching/ Dynamic Warm-up:

Dynamic warm-ups should be part of every training program. These are the initial movements that stretch and move the body in all ranges of motion to circulate blood flow and prepare your muscles for the workout ahead. They are active stretches that move dynamically in multiple angles, not static holds. Warming-up efficiently prepares the muscles to work in greater ranges of motion and prevents injury.  

Post workout stretching/foam rolling:

Get into the habit of stretching post-workout. It’s as important as the workout itself, to follow each session with post-workout stretches to lengthen muscles back to their resting length. This helps recover the muscle tissue as well as prevents injury from occurring. I suggest incorporating a variety of techniques such as static stretches, foam rolling, or PNF (partner) stretches. 


Cross training is essential for runners to not only gain strength in areas of weakness, but also to prevent injuries from overuse associated to repetitive impact activity. Some of these injuries may include shin splints, hip and lower back strains, and knee discomfort. By adding 1-2 non-running workouts to your weekly routine, you can drastically improve your running technique, speed, and stride length to achieve high performance abilities.

There are a variety of ways to strengthen and condition your body on cross training days other than what I have listed in the program. The methods provided below can be supplemented into your current program, or in place of the cross training workout provided. I want to offer you options of how to stay motivated, inspired, and provide a variety to your training program. 

To prevent boredom, try incorporating these super effective cross training methods into your program. You will be surprised at how well your body responds and you may even notice a faster PR as the outcome!

  1. Strength Training Intervals or Circuits – incorporate your own exercises in timed rounds. Choose exercises that build functional core strength and utilize muscles that running does not such as; squats (dynamic movement in all direction), lunges (lateral, front, reverse), planks (straight arms, forearms, side), leg lifts (glutes, hips circles). Play with a variety of exercises and change them up to keep your muscles guessing.
  2. Yoga – Perform your own yoga sequences or take a class to benefit from the mind body connection yoga offers. If you feel tight or over-trained, try a restorative practice to focus on the fundamentals. For more endurance, practice a vinyasa flow to get the circulation flowing. 
  3. Swimming – Plunge into a water workout to enhance your running skills without the impact on the joints. This is a perfect workout method especially for those who are experiencing pain or have an injury they’re trying to work through. Water workouts challenge you to control your core and use power from the hips. Runners can benefit from developing range of motion in the hips to allow for greater hip extension and efficiency in their stride. Try swimming laps for 30 minutes, kicking with a kickboard, or perform timed sprints using a buoyancy jog belt.
  4. Plyometrics – Adding plyos to your routine increases strength and explosive power with dynamic control to challenge your body to work at a quicker pace. All planes of motion are challenged. They also train you to function as a more efficient shock-absorbing force, especially when pushing off powerfully on race day!   
  5. Cycling – Perfect for the runner with weak or tight hamstrings and glutes.  Cycling is great for of cardio that improves endurance without putting too much strain on the joints. It’s a great way to fire up the same muscles of your legs you use in running, but in a slightly different way. Pushing and pulling the pedal on the upstroke targets the hamstrings and glutes, especially when climbing a hill with heavy resistance. Take a group class or cycle on your own to add a variety to your training.
  6. Fitness Class – Taking a group fitness class is motivating, inspiring, and can challenge you to do exercises you wouldn’t necessarily do on your own. There’s something about working out with others that pushes you to work harder. Plus it’s a social scene that provides an element of fun! Any type of strength, cardio, core, etc. class can be performed on a cross training day. Choose something that interests you and try it out!


This is the 3rd week of the program, so if you’re just joining in now, please refer back to week 1 and week 2 to get the full program details.

The program progresses over a 4-8 week training cycle that builds upon the previous weeks. You can choose how many weeks you need to train for a given race and a set goal.


If you run regularly and want to improve your speed, you can choose to train for 4 weeks and focus on that aspect of training.


If you are new to running, consider training and conditioning for 8 weeks prior to the race to develop the strength and endurance needed to achieve this goal. 

Either way, there are many good things to accomplish over the upcoming weeks prior to race day!

The program listed provides a running schedule as well as specific cross training workouts to follow each week. The cross training workouts utilize your Total Gym equipment to get functionally fit faster. Feel free to modify the exercise sequences to suit your schedule and your fitness level. 

Lastly, plan to accomplish the recommended miles each week. If you are training to increase your speed (4 week training), perform the speed and endurance runs on non-consecutive days. Incorporate the plyometric exercises on cross training days.

Now let’s review the plan and go over the new exercises for part 3 of the training program.





NOTE: Although this is the 3nd week of your training, you are following ‘week 5’ of the program. Remember, you are performing the’ ODD’ weeks of the plan.

The secret to running well is consistency and developing accuracy in your training.  By continuous weekly training, you should feel a certain rhythm with your running. Allow this rhythmic flow to evolve and begin to add pace runs or intervals when needed.    

Continue to focus on your speed, power, and strength development by incorporating both speed/agility drills and plyometrics to your training schedule.  Speed drills and plyometrics are to be performed on separate days, not the same day.

Speed & Agility Drills

Directions: Perform the same or similar speed drills 1-2 times during the week in conjunction to a scheduled run day. Either perform them during the run to add intensity or post run when you’re already warm and somewhat fatigued. 

  • – Side shuffles 
  • – Back pedals 
  • – Karaoke
  • – Skips 
  • – Sprints to a point 
  • – Timed sprints (i.e.: 30, 45, 60, 90 sec., followed by 2 minutes recovery)


Directions: Perform the TG strength move then immediately perform a plyometric exercise. These exercises can also be performed after a run day instead of on the cross training day. It’s up to you when you feel best to incorporate them.

Perform 10 reps, 2 sets with good form.

  • – Lunge drop (right/left legs, SS)
  • – Side-Side (SS) Squat Hops
  • – Jump lunges 
  • – 1 Burpie, 4 high knee runs


You are well on your way to feeling stronger, faster, and more accomplished than when you started. Some days you may feel great. Other days you may feel fatigued and tired. This is a good indicator that you are putting in the hard work it takes to stay on track and get you to your goal. Keep up the good work!

Focus the runs on properly pacing yourself to develop stamina. The training schedule can be modified to suit your week(s). Try to stick to the plan and accomplish all the suggested running distances along with the cross training workouts. It’s a lot, but you can do it!

This is a beginner-intermediate training program that prepares you to gain strength, speed, and the courage to test your skills to run a 5K race! 

As a reminder, the cross training routines incorporate a strength training routine that should be performed in conjunction with the weekly running schedule. It’s a perfect plan for beginners who want to focus on a low mileage approach.

The following schedule is only a guide. Feel free to make modifications or add to what is listed here to accommodate your work and family schedule.







  • The 5th and 6th week focuses on light-moderate running to develop stamina and contains 2 cross training days utilizing your Total Gym. 
  • Follow the plan as listed.
  • Incorporate flexibility daily to ensure proper recover and to prevent injury.
  • 4-week plan: continue the training schedule with the new set of exercises for this week (your 3rd week) and incorporate your speed/ agility drills and plyometric exercises on, or in addition to, the cross training days.

    NOTE: The workouts are listed in 2 week increments to accommodate those on the 8 week plan.  As a reminder, you will follow the “odd” weeks: 1, 3, 5, & 7.

  • 8-week plan: perform each week as listed. You will perform the same strength workouts two weeks in a row. You will also have the whole program by week four, but just stay focused on each weekly schedule until you have reached the full 8 weeks.
  • All strength workouts will be performed in Circuit format. 
  • Include your own core exercises on the ‘Core’ day listed. (i.e.: planks, straight leg bicycles, stability ball crunches, etc.)

I’m including a lot of information in this program that provides the knowledge you need to execute a safe and effective program to accomplish your desired goals.  So take a deep breath and focus on each week of the plan to make it work for you.


Week 3 for 4 week training

Weeks 5-6 for 8 week training

Dynamic Warm-Up

Perform a dynamic warm-up prior to ALL your workout session. This will prepare your muscles for the workout ahead. Refer to this blog post for an efficient dynamic warm-up routine.

Cross Training Strength Circuit

Perform the exercises in circuit format with no rest between exercises.

10 reps, 2 sets

  1. Step up – side leg lift
  2. Curtsey lunges
  3. Bridge Presses (+single leg)
  4. Leg Sweeps
  5. Knee rocks
  6. Push-ups, dips, & hips
Core Exercises

Perform a series of core exercises of your choice on the ‘Core’ day

10 reps, 2 sets.

Stretch/ Recover

Perform post workout stretches and/or foam rolling.

Refer to this blog post for post-workout stretches and foam rolling techniques.

Check out the video to see how to perform the strength exercises.

Please ‘like’ and ‘share’ with your friends.

By the end of this weeks training, you should feel stronger and ready to take on any workout with ease. The miles should start to feel easier and pass by quicker.  This is a great time to appreciate all you have accomplished so far!

Stay tuned for part 4 of the program.

Best to you always.

Keep running and training strong!


Maria Sollon

Maria Sollon Scally MS, CSCS holds a Master’s Degree in Performance Enhancement/Injury Prevention and Kinesiology. She has obtained numerous certifications in various areas of fitness and is a national conference presenter. Maria specializes in Pilates, Performance Coaching, and Corrective Exercise Techniques and Kettlebells. She is the creator of the Plyo Pilates Method and has developed a series of amazing workout DVDs. She is a Master Trainer for Total Gym, Resist-a-Ball, Body Blade, Peak Pilates, Kettle Bell Concepts and is a freelance writer for Fitness accredited magazines, newsletters, and fitness blog sites. Maria demonstrates her knowledge each day and uses her dynamic creativity throughout her specialized line of work. (purchasable workout videos) (workout clips)

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