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In 8 weeks, you can go from sedentary to sensational—while losing weight and having a blast

Want to energize your walking and have some fun? Start training for a local 5K (3.1 mile) walk.

Notice I didn’t say race, which seems to scare the walking shorts off some of us. It’s all about the fun, fitness and health for most participants and only about competition for a few elites at the front of the pack. Think of it as preparing for a big party with free T-shirts and musical entertainment. As long as you show up and walk, you’re a winner!

Here’s how to get started today.

1. Assess Your Fitness

Before you register for a 5K, you should be walking at least three days a week for 30 minutes at a brisk pace and be able to walk for one hour at a moderate pace.

2. Commit to a 5K Event

Find a 5K event in the early spring. Register. Share your commitment with friends and family to get support and some walking buddies.

3. Get the Right Walking Gear

You’ll need a good pair of walking or running shoes with plenty of toe box room, sweat wicking socks and a stopwatch. Layering your clothes will help you stay warm as you warm up and cool as you cool down.

4. Try the Track

Go to the high school or indoor 1/4-mile track and follow the easy eight-week 5K training plan below.

5. Know your course

Get a map of your 5K course, then walk it to find out how hilly or flat it is.

6. Stick to the training schedule

Adapt when you must, but do your best to meet the demands of the training schedule, always alternating between harder and easier days. On rest days feel free to do some other activity, like biking, indoor cycling or swimming. Weight or resistance training can be combined with easy days, two to three days a week.

Your 8-Week 5K Training Plan

Follow this day-by-day schedule to take you from the depths of winter to an early spring 5K. Warm up with easy walking, pausing to stretch your calves, hamstrings and hips.


Take an easy 30- to 40-minute stroll.


Weeks 1–3: Do one 20-minute walk that pushes past your "easy" pace.

Weeks 4–7: Do two 20-minute sets, resting 3–5 minutes in between.

Week 8: Do a 10-minute set as described below for Wednesdays.


Take an easy 30- to 40-minute stroll.


Weeks 1–4: Walk even faster than your Monday pace for 10 minutes.

Weeks 5–6: Do two 10-minute sets, resting for 2–3 minutes in between.

Week 7: Do three 10-minute sets.

Week 8: Do a 5-minute set as described below for Fridays.


Take an easy 30- to 40-minute stroll.


Week 1: Warm up for 10 minutes, then walk as fast as you can for one 5-minute set.

Weeks 2–3: Do two 5-minute sets.

Weeks 4–7: Do three 5-minute sets.

Week 8: Rest.


Rest. (This can include an activity like biking, indoor cycling or swimming.)

By Maggie Spilner

From our sister publication, Diabetes Focus (Winter 2011)

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 17 Oct 2011

Last Modified: 17 Mar 2015