I am in decent physical condition, but I have not been running for 2-3 months. I have signed up for a 5K in ten days. What training can I do in this short time for the best performance in the 5K?

How far should I run? Should I speed train (fast 400m's) or is it too late for that? Should I practice running 5K or something shorter? How many rest days do I need before the race?

I realize that I should have been training sooner, but unfortunately I haven't. Next time I intend to. I hope this question will be treated seriously because there are a lot of people who have and a lot who will run 5K's with only a few training days available.

  • So... how do you do with your 5K? Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 21:41
  • I beat my dad. (He's 83.) I lost to my nephew. (He's 19.) I ran 22:09, about 40 seconds slower than a year ago. Next time I'll be ready!
    – xpda
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 23:09
  • Not bad at all, I would say. Commented Oct 15, 2011 at 12:13
  • One year later: I beat my dad, ran 20:32. Better than last year.
    – xpda
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 5:42

2 Answers 2


What kind of running did you do before your 2-3 hiatus? Did you ever do speed training before? 10 days prior to the race doesn't leave you with any options really. Your plan of attack REALLY depends on the kind of running you have done in the past. If you were a runner before the break, you should try to run almost every day leading up to the run. I'd do one long run 7 days out (5 miles - little longer if you used to run over 50 miles a week) and one speed session 2 days later. But this speed session should be light. Do a 1 mile cutdown on a track. Start slow and gradually get faster, going about 90% for the last 200m. Take a 800 jog, then 3-4 200's that start slow, get fast in the middle, then slow down at the end. Don't look at the times. The key is to turn your legs over before the race so you don't get hurt during the race.

If you were not much of a runner, try to run 50-75% of the days. Try to run 3 miles once or twice and maybe pick up the last mile on 1-2 of your runs. Maybe do one 5 mile run.

If you were not a runner at all I'd reco running 3-4 times before the race. Start small (1-2 miles with walking breaks if need be) and maybe get to 3 miles. Listen to your body. Rushing into this can cause you problems down the road....


You don't want to beat your body up too much right before a race. Generally, the advice is to taper your training 1-2 weeks before. However, if you were a runner before your 2-3 month break, then a 5k might not be too much for your body to handle, and you could just train up to a few days before.

Your training should depend partially on your goals (speed? just finishing?), and partially on what you can do now. How far are you able to run now without stopping? If you could do a 5k before your 2-3 months off, you might still be able to do it with a little bit of a struggle. If not, you could try something like:

Something like: Day 1: Run 1 mile Day 2: Run 3 miles Day 4: Run 2 miles Day 5: Run 3 miles Day 7: Run 2 miles Day 8: Run 3 miles Day 10: 5k

That will give you a feel for what a 5k is like, since you'll have done 3 miles a few times. But you also won't be pushing it too much before the race. Another approach you could take is to go out on Day 1 and just try to run a 5k to see if you can do it already. If you can, then you could just run 3 miles every other day up until Day 7 or so, and incorporate some interval training to increase speed.

In general, if you can already do the 5k you could concentrate more on your time. If not, you need to build up to where you can complete the distance but not worry about the speed so much.

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