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FITNESS Planing to run 5k? Here’s a training plan

If you struggle with motivating yourself, consider finding a training partner.
MOTIVATION If you struggle with motivating yourself, consider finding a training partner.

Small steps to success

Planning for your first race

Personal Trainer
Paul O'Brien

Are you up for a challenge? Would you like to be fitter, have a lot more energy, feel more vital and be generally happier in your own skin?
Over the next number of weeks, this column will focus on helping you to prepare for, and take part in your first jogging/running event. Initially we will focus on a 5km distance, progressing to 10km and finally to a half-marathon.
Each week, I will outline a training schedule for the week ahead, as well as offering tips or answering any questions you may have. Send your questions to me at
The first step, as I’ve written about many times in the past, is to identify your goal. To help you along, I have listed a few 5km races in the box accompanying this article. Alternatively, you can contact your local athletic club to enquire about any local races coming up over the next few months.
If you are a strong self-motivator, you can take this challenge on yourself. If you struggle with motivation, I strongly suggest you find a training partner who is willing to train and enter your chosen event with you.
Once you have chosen your event and your training partner (if you go that route), the next step is just that – take steps. Let’s begin by just moving. As the old saying goes, ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. The same can be said for your first 5km race. So, your training plan for the next week is as follows:

1. Measure out a distance of 5km (3.125 miles) in your car or use a route that you know the distance of.
2. Walk, jog or run the distance. Depending upon your fitness level, you might begin with a slow jog and slow to a walk after a kilometre or two. Do not feel that you need to cover the whole distance. Do what you can the first time out. Wear a watch and time yourself.
3. Start a training log or diary. As soon as you have finished, write down the distance you covered and the time it took. I would also recommend you include something about how you felt during the exercise. How was your mood? Did you notice anything physically – sore joint, tight muscles, cramps? How did you feel afterwards? A training log or diary can be a great motivator. When times are tough, looking back over your training and noticing how much you’ve progressed can be a real confidence booster when you need it most. A diary can also help you identify when you are at your best – for example, perhaps you feel more energetic when you walk or jog in the mornings.
For the next week, try to cover your route two or three times. You can set out to try beat your time or distance covered in each session. However, don’t feel disheartened if you are sometimes slower. Your body may need a rest or your energy levels may be low. Again, track this in your diary. So, take the challenge, get out and enjoy the beautiful spring and prepare to be your best.

Upcoming 5km events
April 30 Achill Island 5km
May 1 Laherdaun 5.2km (includes a 736-metre ascent)
May 7  Loughrea 5km

Paul O’Brien is a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise and a qualified life coach. He runs his own business in Westport and is the creator of Bootcamp West, an exciting and challenging exercise programme in Westport. For details of upcoming classes, visit or e-mail or telephone 086 1674515.