The holidays can be a time of stress and high expectations. Fortunately, it’s also a great time for 5-Ks, with Turkey Trots and Jingle Bell Jogs held nearly every weekend. (Find one near you.) Training for and running a race might seem impossible when work and family obligations are colliding, but putting an event on your to-do list can help you stay focused and motivated. Short, purposeful training runs will invigorate you, clear your mind, and renew your enthusiasm for the challenges ahead. Here’s how to time a race with your current fitness—and get safely across the finish line. (While you’re training, don’t forget the 10 Golden Rules of Race Success.)
Related: Discover the easiest, healthiest way to lose weight for good, with Run Your Butt Off!
Five weeks to A 5-K
You can do it if you already run/walk twice a week for 15 to 20 minutes.
Make it happen Add a third long run (preferably on the weekend). Begin at a half-mile longer than your typical run length; add a half-mile each week. Insert as many walk breaks as necessary to keep from huffing and puffing. Increase weekly workouts to 20 minutes. Once there, add five to 10 seconds to your run segments; decrease or maintain the walk segments.
On your big day, remember to avoid these Top Race-Day Disasters.
Three weeks to a 5-K
You can do it if you regularly run for at least 20 minutes three days a week.
Make it happen On the first of your two weekends before race day, run/walk for 2.5 miles; on the second weekend, run three. Run twice during the week for 20 minutes. During race week, follow the plan below.
Do you know how fast you should be running? Figure out your training baseline with this 8-Second Test For The Right Pace.
One week to a 5-K
You can do it if you run three days a week and have completed at least 2.5 miles in the last two weeks.
Make it happen Run/walk three miles the Sunday before race day. Run easy for 20 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday. On Monday and Wednesday, take the day off or go for a walk. Take Friday off if the race is Saturday, or run easy if it’s Sunday.
Related: What to do One Week Before Race Day