Interval training is your best bet to improve your fitness and endurance faster. Here’s how to train with the goal of running 5km in mind:
1) Train three times a week. Allow your practice to be slow and steady. Train whichever three days of the week suit you best, and rest on the alternating days.
2) Always train for about 30-45 minutes. This is an adequate workout for a beginner, and will keep your training times consistent, even when it progresses to include more running than walking. As you improve, you will move from the 30 minute mark towards the 45 minutes, but try to restrict any more variation in timing. The intensity of your workout will increase with your fitness levels, giving you a moderate workout.
3) Stick to your training schedule. Even though you may be tempted to change your intervals in under a week if you are progressing quickly, resist it, as the escalating intensity may become difficult to maintain. Enjoy conquering and maintaining your weekly goal, and look forward to the challenge the following week will bring.
Week 1: In your first week, practise 1 minute running with 2 minutes walking. Repeat these intervals until you have completed a 30 minute workout.
Week 2: Practise running intervals of 1 minute, followed by walking intervals of 1 minute as well. Again, repeat these intervals until you have completed a 30 minute workout.
Week 3: Now increase your running intervals to 2 minutes, still followed by a 1 minute walking interval. Repeat for 30 minutes.
Week 4: Your running intervals can now be increased to 3 minutes, while your walking intervals stay at 1 minute. Your workout can now increase to just over 30 minutes, as you need to start aiming for the 5km distance.
Week 5: Up your running intervals to 5 minutes, with a 1 minute interval of walking. Aim for 35 minutes of training. If you are battling with your first session of the week, don’t reduce your running intervals. Rather allow yourself 2 minutes of rest then continue.
Week 6: Aim for running intervals of 7 minutes, and 1 minute intervals of walking. Your training should slowly be increasing, even if just by a minute – never decreasing.
Week 7: Almost there! Your running intervals can now increase to 9 minutes each, and you should be managing with 1 minute intervals of walking in between. By now you should be training for almost 40 minutes.
Week 8: You can now run at 10 minute intervals, and even if you can manage more, it is important to keep taking your 1 minute intervals to recover. This workout should last around 45 minutes, and will hopefully cover your desired 5km.