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I recently timed myself running a 5k. I don't have any previous serious exercise experience, although in the past there have been periods when I've run a bit. My time was a bit under 30:00, and I've done it a few more time since, going as quickly as 26:50.

I also discovered, via simple googling, various race training plans. These all seem to be focused on training for a particular race in a certain number of weeks, and combine a bunch of different types of runs at varying paces, distances and intensities. I have no reason to doubt that such plan is the best way to train for a specific race, but that's not my goal -- I just want to add exercise to my life.

Would it be bad forgo such a plan and just run a 5k a few times a week? I'd like to do the simplest thing possible, because I think it will make me more likely to stick to it. I would of course reconsider, however, if a more varied routine would confer significant additional benefits or help avoid injuries.

(Why 5k? No reason in particular, it just happens to be a standard length that matches up well to the amount of time I want to spend running each session.)

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    You say you don't have the goal of running a specific race, but do you have a goal in general? Running further/faster? – Yousend Jul 5 '16 at 15:03
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    Plans give you a benchmark on your progress. "I have to run 5k in 30mins" as opposed to winging it and saying "I'll go on a 30min run and hope to get 5k". People tend to push themselves more when they have a goal. It holds you accountable if you slack. – Yousend Jul 5 '16 at 15:11
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I would recommend a walk-run plan to anyone who wants to start racing or running at all. Walk-run hurts a lot less to beginners and gives you a more rounded fitness level in aerobic and anaerobic capability.

You don't have to have a serious plan by any means, but I see having a plan making running more enjoyable and helps you stay on it since cardio in general is extremely beneficial to your full body health.

A basic weekly plan using the walk-philosophy could be...

  • Monday: (5 minutes run easy -> 3 minutes walk) x4-5 20-25 min total
  • Tuesday: (7 minute warmup)...(1 minute run hard -> 2 min walk)x10-12...(7 min cooldown) 24-26 min total
  • Wednsday: (5 minute run med -> 2 minute walk)...(15 minute run easy -> 5 min walk)...(5 minute run med -> 2 minute walk) 25 min total
  • Thurday: off
  • Friday: (7 minute warmup)...(2 minute run med-hard -> 1 minute walk)x5-6...(7 minute cooldown) 24-26 min total
  • Saturday: 30-35 min easy
  • Sunday off

Do this every week for about 3 weeks(or until you feel yourself improving), and than you can slowly bump up the distance you run on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. This is just a basic example and if you are interested, you can find more on it using a simple google search.

Sorry if this is way more than you asked for haha

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Because of your goals, I would say a training plan is not necessary.

For some people, say who struggle to run their first 5k, a plan is needed to build them up to that point. That isn't necessary for you however because you are already able to accomplish your goal which is running a few 5ks a week.

The only real thought I would suggest putting into it is just keeping an eye out for any lingering joint pain. If that occurs, then change something (shoes, mileage per week, running form).

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I like Avery Bartlett's plan, but if you want simple then try this. Run easy for 30 min every other day and for one hour on the weekend. No pace or distance. Skipping is fine but try not to skip the hour run, and dont try to make up fo missed runs. This is generally called based building and the goal is to get out and run before actually starting any kind of training program. That seems to fall in line with your approach too which is nice.

Do this for a month and if you want more then first get your weekend long hour up to 2 hours then start a program.

By the way most of the training programs are very similar, and consist of running hard 1-2 times a week, easy 2-3 times a week, and long 0-1 times a week (2.5-3 hours once a month minimum).

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