Training for Your First 5K – Week 4

Training for Your First 5k - Week 4 video

Runners take their marks… The gun fires and a herd of racers shove to the race start. The crowd cheers with enthusiasm! RACE DAY IS ON!

Full steam ahead, running and racing, I can’t help but sing “you’re going the distance… you’re going for speed” in my head. I can’t begin to tell you how excited, proud, and honored I am for all your hard efforts to complete this 5K training, rock star style!

Does imagining race day fill you with excitement? Do you feel ready for the big event? Well, this is your time to shine! Let’s get cracking with the last few bits of important race information and move on to your final week(s) of the training program!


Running with the proper gear is important to feel comfortable and run well on any given day. However, it can be slightly overwhelming to know what you really need if you’re new to running. Having the essential items will make you feel comfortable and like an experienced runner from the start!

  • Supportive running shoes & socks (NOT cotton)

    Wearing the perfect running shoe should feel like it’s part of your foot.  There is an art in determining the best fit for each person. Take time to visit a proper running store for them to analyze your foot strike and fit you for the correct shoe for you. A week before a race is not the time to be buying new shoes! But moving forward, it is ideal to have two pairs to alternate between when training. This will help your feet muscles stay strong and prevent a foot/ leg injury. Shoes break down quickly, especially if you’re running a lot of miles.

    Wearing the right socks for running is a game changer too! Cotton tends to be thicker, hotter, and can chafe against your feet. It’s terrible to deal with a blister from a shoe/ sock that isn’t supportive or rubs your foot.

  • Proper clothing

    Wear gear that is comfortable, non-constricting, and isn’t too hot. Choose items that have a wicking fabric such as shirts/ t-shirts, shorts, capris, or tights. Ladies, it’s also important to invest in a supportive and comfortable sports bra. Be selective on the items you wear so that the clothes don’t ride up or chafe when you run. Test them out before race day!

  • Other gadgets

    Many runners like to use a watch to track their time, distance, GPS, and heart rate, but you don’t need anything too fancy. If you have a smart phone, you can track nearly the same things using apps that use GPS technology while you’re running. This might be what you need to motivate your runs.


Music fills the body with energy and an internal drive to accomplish success. It can fuel a workout with the motivation needed to get moving, finish faster, or push harder when your body becomes fatigued. Music can keep your mind entertained and excited for the duration of the run. Having a playlist of your favorite tunes can be the key factor to a successful run! 



    Check out the weather conditions prior to race day so you are prepared physically, mentally, and dressed appropriately.


    It’s important to know the terrain of your racecourse so you can train accordingly. Meaning, if it’s hilly, make sure you have been conditioning for hills. If it’s more flat, know when you can pick up the pace for a quick burst to push ahead and keep going until the end. Knowing the terrain of your run will help you have more confidence in your abilities and be able to run a smart race.


    The start time of a race makes a difference in how you prepare the night before or the day of. Fueling and hydrating properly will make a huge difference in how you feel running and help you adjust what you intake accordingly depending on the time of the day.


Preparing for your race begins the week before to ensure you feel your best on race day. The week prior to the race should focus on ‘storing’ energy with light training days so your legs are rested and ready to run with ease.

Include 2-3 short runs along with 1-2 cross training days. Be sure to stretch, foam roll, and get plenty of rest daily. Prepare yourself by taking a day or two before the race completely off from training or perform light, short movement sessions to keep your muscles fresh (i.e. 20-min light jog/brisk walk, core, stretching). Also, focus on getting a full night’s rest. You will thank yourself when you wake and head to the race!


Before you can plan ahead, take a moment to reflect back on what you have been doing with your training, how well you have done it, and the effect it has had on your progress. This process may help you gain an increased understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, what worked and what didn’t, and in turn will inform you of how to plan your next training better.


This is the 4th week of the program (part 4), so if you’re just joining in now, please refer back to part 1, part 2, and part 3 to get the full program details.

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! The program progresses over a 4 to 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, plan to train for 4 weeks to increase your running performance.


If you are new to running, plan to train and condition for 8 weeks prior to the race.  This will ensure you develop the strength and endurance needed to run a 5K.

Whether you train for 4 weeks or 8, there are many training aspects to accomplish prior to race day!

The program listed provides a weekly running schedule and specific cross training workouts to follow. The cross training workouts utilize your Total Gym equipment to get functionally fit faster. Feel free to modify the exercise sequences or add in other methods of training to accommodate your schedule and fitness level. 

Stay committed to run the recommended miles each week. If you are training to increase your speed (4-week training), the final week of your program will focus on maintaining what you have accomplished prior to now. For the 8 week trainees, keep following the plan into your 8th week of training so you are ready for race day. Runners, you will want to feel light, quick, and effortless the week before your race.

Now let’s review the plan and go over the new exercises for part 4 of the training program.





NOTE: Although this is the 4th week of your training, you are following ‘week 7’ of the program. Remember, you are performing the ODD weeks of the plan.

You’ve made it this far to the final stretch of the program. By staying committed to yourself and the training plan, you should feel accomplished and feel improved rhythm in your running, feel stronger in your body, and feel quicker in your strides. Allow this rhythmic flow to become a part of you and focus in on what your body needs prior to your race day.


Race day is approaching soon with a few more weeks to go. You should feel stronger, faster, and more accomplished than when you began this journey.  There will be struggles and obstacles to overcome as your training unfolds.  These are all great experiences that require you to push through and create the athlete you are today. Keep up your efforts!

Focus these last two weeks on maintaining your strength developments, increasing your distances, and prepare for race day. The training schedule can be modified to suit your needs. 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!


As a reminder, the cross training workout incorporate a strength routine that should be performed in conjunction with the weekly running schedule. It’s a perfect plan for beginners, as well as experienced runners, 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 schedule.







  • The 7th and 8th 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 4th 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, bicycles, stability ball crunches, etc.)

I’m including a lot of information in this program to provide the knowledge you need to execute a safe and effective program. So take each week at a time, be proud, and enjoy the process of accomplishing your desired goals.

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


Week 4 for 4 week training

Weeks 7-8 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, 1-2 sets, light-moderate strength levels
  • Step ups – sticky feet
  • Plank Pulls (Leg Extended)
  • Bridge press circles
  • Outer thigh cable presses
  • Superman lat pulls
  • 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

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With a only a few training sessions left and continued motivation, you will have accomplished what you set out to achieve!

You’re at a different fitness level and athletic position than you were when you started. Put your hard work into action by running your race faster, stronger, and better than you thought you could.

Run your heart out!

Best of luck.


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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