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5K Walking Plan For Beginners: Train To Walk Your First 5K

If you want to get fit, a 5K walk is the perfect goal for beginners. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise for your overall health and it’s accessible to almost everyone. This 5K walking plan will guide you to the finish line of your chosen 5K event.

If you’ve entered a 5K charity walk, this training program will make sure you don’t let the side down. At the end of 5-weeks, you’ll be walking the route in style – full of energy with the goal of walking 5K in one hour or less.

5K fun walks are becoming increasingly popular. The Parkrun movement exists for walkers as well as runners offering a free 5K event every Saturday morning. Take part if you have one nearby – they’re open to all-comers and you’ll always get a friendly welcome.

Read on to find out everything you need to know to walk a 5K – from long does it take, to can you walk in a 5K road race?

5k walking plan for beginners

5K Walking Plan For Beginners

The walking plan has three different effort levels, easy walking, moderate walking, and brisk walking. Some suggested paces are included for guidance but instead of timing your paces, it’s better to walk to feel.

This plan is for complete beginners – it’s okay to be slow. If you walk slower than the suggested paces don’t sweat it! With regular walking your pace will gradually increase.

In fact, it’s better to train with just a watch to know how long you’re been walking than with a fitness tracker that tells you your pace. These are the suggested effort levels:

Easy Walk

This is a gentle pace – a stroll. Think of this pace as a leisurely walk in the park with friends on a sunny day!

Moderate Walk

Here you’re making some effort. It’s the pace most people walk at when they’re walking somewhere with a purpose. Your heart rate will be slightly elevated but you can still happily hold a conversation.

Brisk Walk

For a brisk walk, you’re trying to walk quickly – you’re walking for fitness. Your heart rate will be elevated but you can still walk and talk. You’ll be making a constant effort to maintain your pace.

By the time you complete your 5K, you’ll be strong enough to keep pushing at a brisk pace over the whole distance.

Rest Days

The plan doesn’t include any rest days. Is this a mistake? No!

Walking is a low-impact natural activity. People feel better when they move every day. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it easy at times and let your body rest and recover.

Instead of rest days, twice a week we’ve included 10 to 15 minutes of easy walking. This is gentle movement – think stroll. Finish your rest day walks feeling re-energized.

You can skip them and go for complete rest, but we suggest you don’t. Alternatively, swap the easy walks for gentle cross-training such as swimming or hatha yoga.

Warm Up

It’s always best to warm up before any exercise but especially on days when you’re launching into a brisk walk. We love Tom Morrison’s walking warm-ups.

The Love Life Be Fit 5K Beginner Walking Plan

5K Walking Plan For Beginners

How Far Is A 5K Walk?

K is the unit for kilometers in the metric system. A kilometer is a little over half a mile in distance. 5K converts to just over 3.1 miles.

If you’re entering a 5K race, most organizers place signs every mile or kilometer along the course to tell you the distance you’ve covered. Called mile markers, they certainly help you dig deep when you know you’re near the finish!

How many steps in a 5K

Using a pedometer or fitness tracker is a great motivator to move more during the day and increase your step count. The number of steps it takes to complete 5K depends on fitness levels, average step length (stride length), and pace.

Walking 5K is the same distance as approximately 6200 to 7440 steps.

How Long Does It Take To Walk A 5K?

Your walking pace dictates how long it takes to complete 5K. Walk quickly and you’ll cover the distance in a faster time than at an easy pace.

Average walking speed

Average walking speed is 3 miles per hour on flat terrain. For many people this is normal walking speed – the pace you walk at naturally without trying to walk faster.

At this speed, it takes just over an hour to walk 5K.

Average time to walk a 5k

When you’re making an effort, and trying to walk at a brisk pace, most people can manage 3 to 4 miles per hour. At this speed, it takes approximately 47 to 62 minutes to walk a 5K.

Over the 5-week exercise program, you’ll gradually increase your stamina and walking speed. For most people, aiming to complete your 5K in one hour or less is an achievable target.

Typical walking pace

The time of about one hour to walk 5K may reflect a typical walking pace but how fast you walk will depend on many different factors such as your fitness level, age, gender, and body weight.

Some people can power walk around a 5K taking just 37 minutes at a 12-minute-per-mile pace. Others might take as long as 93 minutes at a 30-minute-per-mile pace.

A pace of 17.1 minutes per mile or 3.5 miles per hour is a typical brisk walking pace. At this speed expect to take 53 minutes to walk a 5K.

walking 5K

Can You Walk In A 5K?

Yes of course! A 5K is still a 5K even if you walk. You may be slower than the runners but you’re out there on the course for longer – people appreciate your effort.

Most 5K events are aimed at encouraging people to exercise more – so on race day walkers get just as much support and encouragement as everyone else. Especially slower walkers at the back of the race! The last finisher always gets the biggest cheer.

You may want to check that your chosen event encourages walkers and doesn’t have any cut-off times but it would be unusual for a 5K race.

Download The FREE 5K Walking Plan

How To Train For A 5K

Some people can jump straight in and walk a 5K. It depends on your current walking ability. If you’re a complete beginner and unused to exercise, it makes a lot more sense to build up to walking the 5K distance.

Our 5K walking plan for beginners will help you improve your walking speed and build the stamina you need to comfortably complete the event.

The training schedule starts with easy walking for just 10 minutes and builds up to brisk walking at your 5K walk race pace. A week before the event, there’s even a 50-minute moderate walk where you’ll cover 2.5 miles in distance as practice for the race.

By the time you reach the starting line, you’ll be ready and fully prepared.

Some people may find the plan starts too slowly – if so feel free to jump in 2 to 3 weeks into the program. If you start struggling and find the progress is too fast, it’s always okay to repeat a week. Don’t continue through the plan until you’re ready.

Training will make all the difference to your enjoyment of a 5K. If you’ve trained properly, you’ll be skipping across the finish line and signing up for your next event!

walking a mile a day

Tips For Walking Your First 5K

These walking tips for beginners will help you successfully complete your first 5K:

#1 Get A Check Up

If it’s a long time since you’ve exercised, you’re carrying a lot of excess weight or you have pre-existing medical conditions, get checked out by your doctor before starting the plan.

#2 Walking Regularly

Try and keep to the plan. You can repeat weeks if you find the walking too hard but regular walking will make all the difference to your fitness.

#3 Good Walking Shoes

Comfortable and supportive walking shoes or trainers will make a big difference. Those fashion shoes lurking at the back of your closet won’t cut it. You need shoes designed for walking with good cushioning to avoid shin splints and enough grip to stop you slipping on wet pavements.

#4 Hydration

Don’t forget to drink water when you’re walking. Hydrate well before and after your walks and remember it’s best to drink to thirst instead over-drinking.

For longer walks most beginner walkers prefer to carry water with them. Try and keep your hands free for better walking form by carrying your water in a small backpack.

#5 Be Realistic

This is your first 5K and the goal is to finish. Don’t get hung up on your walking time. Just enjoy the experience.

#6 Practice In Your Kit

Never try out anything new in an event. Eat the food you normally eat. Wear the clothing and shoes you’ve used in training.

#7 Have Fun

Most important of all – enjoy the experience. You’ve done the work, now it’s time to have fun. It’s your day!

5 week beginner 5K walking schedule
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Thoughts From Love Life Be Fit

This site is full of useful tips and advice to get through your first 5K (and hopefully fall in love with walking). If training 3 days a week fits better with your schedule, try our Couch to 5K Walking Plan For Beginners.

Our beginner walking guide contains tips for good walking posture to help you get the most from your walks. Once you’ve completed your 5K, come back for more and learn how to walk faster or further with our walking workouts.

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