How to Train for a 5K on a Treadmill Without a Stopwatch

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Some people participate in 5K races for fun, collecting t-shirts and race bibs as a badge of honor. Others take the races a bit more seriously, working to beat a competitor or to beat their personal best race time. If you're among the latter, using a stopwatch can help keep tabs on how fast you're running during training, giving you a peek into how you'll perform during the actual race. If you don't have a stopwatch, you can still monitor your time using your treadmill's time and distance monitor.

  • Warm up before every workout by walking slowly on the treadmill for five to 10 minutes. After you've done your warmup, set your treadmill's monitor to zero by pressing the reset button.

  • Run or walk four days a week for about 30 minutes, giving yourself at least one day of rest near the end of the week. During your runs, watch the treadmill's time monitor so you'll know when to stop.

  • Do the "magic mile" on the fifth training day of the week. Run at a faster than normal pace for 1 mile and make a note of the time in minutes and seconds. Then continue running or walking on the treadmill for a total of 3.1 miles -- or the entire 5K distance.

  • Repeat this pattern every week for about seven weeks, adding 5 minutes of time every two weeks. During your magic mile day, focus on running at a strong race pace, looking down at the treadmill's monitor only periodically. Your fastest magic mile time should be about one or two minutes slower than your actual 5K race per mile pace, advises MayoClinic.com.

  • Cool down at the end of each workout by walking slowly for five to 10 minutes. Also do some light stretching such as forward bends and lunges at the end of your workout.

Tips & Warnings

  • Give yourself at least one day of rest before your actual race day -- if not two or three days.
  • Trainers and running experts offer all sorts of variations for 5K training programs -- and some don't involve monitoring your time at all. If you're not concerned about your race time, the key for you is to train at least four days a week for six to eight weeks. If you're already fairly fit from other sports or training that you do, it's probably possible for you to run a 5K without any additional training at all, reminds author and marathoner Hal Higdon.

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