If you’ve thought about running before, but have felt a little intimidated to begin, we’ve got news: The #SELFto5K Challenge will help you start running and build the endurance and confidence you need to cross the finish line of your first 3.1-mile race. We’re all starting together on April 25, which means that you’ll be crossing the finish line of your virtual 5K during the first week of June—just in time for Global Running Day.
Here’s how it works. First: SIGN UP HERE. Signing up means that you’ll receive one newsletter from us each week for six weeks (bright and early every Monday morning!) that outlines exactly what your workouts will be for the week. That way, there’s no guesswork about what to do when. All of the workouts will also be posted on SELF.
Now, keep reading to get all the details about what you can expect during this training program.
SELF partnered with running coach Knox Robinson to create a beginner-friendly, six-week running program that culminates with a virtual 5K. (The “virtual” part means there’s no pressure to get to a certain location or lace up by a specific time! You can run your race when it works best for you.) The goal of the free program is to progressively build your endurance as the weeks go on. You’ll do this through a combination of several types of workouts: walk-run workouts and steady-state runs, low-impact cross-training days, strength training routines, and of course: rest days.
During your 5K program, you’ll be given three running-related workouts per week, including one weekly longer effort. (Even your longer days are no more than 45 minutes though, so all of your workouts will be well under the hour mark!) Walk-run workouts are one of the cornerstones of this program: They help your body acclimate to longer and longer periods of time on your feet, which helps prepare your muscles, joints, and bones for the impact of running. Plus, there’s a mental benefit, too: Walk-run intervals allow you to take on the sport of running in a way that seems less daunting than diving right into an extended distance. Then, as your body (and your mind) get used to these running intervals, you’ll gradually begin to take on longer steady-state efforts. At the end of six weeks, you can feel confident to take on the entire 5K distance.
Your weekly schedule will also include one cross-training day and one strength-training day. In this program, cross-training is broadly defined as a non-running workout that helps you get in some low-impact movement while giving your body a break from the force of running. Many people have their own favorite forms of cross-training—maybe it’s riding your bike, hitting the elliptical, jumping in the pool, or unrolling your yoga mat—and it’s perfectly fine to choose what works for you and slot it into that day. But if you’re not quite sure how you want to spend your cross-training days, we have you covered with options to try, too.