How to Prepare for Your First 5K

Photo: Matthew Green for RUNGRL

Photo: Matthew Green for RUNGRL

By Natalie Robinson


Whether you’re new to running or thinking of returning from a hiatus, the idea of running a 5K can seem intimidating. For Black women, starting any new running plan can seem especially daunting when you consider culturally-specific factors like maintaining natural hair or the lack of representation of Black women in the sport. But these things don’t have to hold you back from greatness.

So, what really is a 5K?

5K (or five kilometers) is a distance of 3.1 miles. Many runners consider it the perfect race for beginners but know that more than just beginners enjoy running this distance. Even seasoned runners can enjoy the faster recovery time, shorter time commitment and abundance of options of 5K races.

Here are a few tips to get you started with your 5K race preparation:


The first step on this distance running journey is to commit. Yes, it will be hard. You may want to quit and you will have moments of frustration. Make the promise to yourself to put your best foot forward (pun intended) and give it your all. Set a date and sign up for an actual race so that you have something “real” to anticipate and work toward.

Read more: 8 Exciting Races You'll Want To Train for This Spring

Get a Plan

Like anything new, you may not know exactly how to start or even what to do. If you’re not already running two-to-three miles at a time (without walking breaks), you don’t want to go straight from zero to 100--er, 5K--too quickly. Start by setting yourself up with a training plan, which will keep you focused, lay the foundation and help you build.

Setting yourself up with a week-by-week plan to increase mileage, effort and endurance will ensure that you build at a reasonable and sustainable pace, so you’re ready when race time comes.

If you’re in need of help in this area, stay tuned! RUNGRL has something very special coming soon for all the beginners and “begin-again-ers”!

Create Accountability

How are you going to standby this commitment you have made to yourself? RUNGRL recommends an accountability partner (or two!). Whether it’s a friend or partner who’s checking in with you to see if you’re sticking to your plan or (even better) someone who has committed to running with you, sharing your journey with someone will make it more real and help keep you honest when you feel like skipping out or quitting.

Gear Up

Wearing the proper gear will not only facilitate a comfortable run, it will also make you feel (and look) good.

Proper running shoes are the most important part of your running gear. This doesn’t necessarily have to be anything fancy or expensive. It just means you should wear sneakers that are specifically designed for running, as opposed to training, casual or lifestyle shoes. This will help prevent common running injuries and help you feel comfortable during your run.

If finding the shoe that is perfect for you has been a challenge, visit a local running store to try out a few pairs to see which feels best or ask a specialist to recommend a shoe based on a gait analysis, or in-store treadmill test.

You’ll also want to wear clothes that are made of moisture and sweat-wicking materials, as cotton can get heavy and hold odors from the sweat that gets soaked up during your workout.

Other optional running accessories include a belt or wrist pack to hold keys, ID and other small essentials or a runner’s water bottle or pack.

Sound like a lot? Start with your shoes first. The rest will fall into place once you’re into the running groove and you’re ready to expand your collection.

Give Yourself Grace

Running is just as much mental as it is physical. If running a 5K is totally new for you, inevitably, you may experience some discomfort on this new running journey. It will be hard, but don’t back down from your new challenge.

As you run, celebrate your wins, both big and small. You are a runner. (Yes girl! A runner.) Whenever you feel as though you’ve missed a mark, stopped a little too frequently or just didn’t feel motivated, remember to give yourself the grace that you will keep going and do just a little bit better on your next run.

Read More: I Run Because I Don't Like To

Don’t Overthink It

At RUNGRL, we like to say, “It’s not that deep. It’s just a little running.” Before you talk yourself out of this running thing with every excuse in the book, just tell yourself “I’ve got this” and go for it.

Philosopher Lao-Tzu once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.  

Now, let’s run.


Are you a beginner looking to train for your first 5K race? Get ready to launch your love affair with running with RUNGRL’s new 5K Hustle Beginner Training Plan.


Natalie Robinson

Co-founder and Chief Sponsorship Officer