As Walkingspree members, you’re already walking. Some of you are collecting steps throughout the day and others at concentrated walks. Now you can add another layer to your walking by learning how to increase your walking distance, speed and time by participating in a 5K Walk event (3.1 miles or approx 6,000 steps). Fall is an ideal time to do your first 5K event.
Don’t worry about speed at the beginning and instead focus on the time you spend walking. Take each part at your own pace and repeat until you can follow the plan.
Getting Started on a 5K Walk:
Weeks 1 – 2
We’re going to assume that as Walkingspree members, you’ve already been walking for 100 minutes/week and are able to walk daily for 20 minutes at a time.
Check your Getting Started Guide (First Steps: A Walking Primer) on your login page for tips on walking shoes, walking form and other getting started with walking tips.
Week 3: Walk at a Moderate Pace
Time: Add 5 minutes a day so you are walking 25 minutes, 5 days a week. Weekly total goal: 100 – 125 minutes.
Measure your Intensity
Talk test. If you’re so out of breath that you can’t carry on a conversation with the person you’re walking with, you’re probably walking too fast and should slow down.
Perceived exertion Scale. You rate how hard you think you’re working on a scale that ranges from 6 (no exertion) to 20 (maximal effort). Aim for at least moderate intensity (12 to 14) as you walk.
Monitor your heart rate (pulse). To find out if you’re exercising within the range of your target heart rate, stop exercising to check your pulse manually at your wrist (radial artery) or neck (carotid artery). Another option is to wear an electronic device that displays your heart rate. Your target heart rate will depend on age. Resting heart rate average is 72 beats per minute.
Week 4: Add a Long Day
Time: Add 5 minutes a day to walk 30 minutes, 4 days a week, at a moderate pace. Weekly total goal: 125 – 150 minutes.
Start building mileage by adding a long day. Every week, add one long day on your fifth day. This should be a 40 minute walk at an easy pace.
Week 5: Adding Speed
Time: Walk 30 minutes a day on four days a week.
Long Walk: walk 45 minutes at an easy pace.
Building speed: During your short walks, focus on your form. If you have not been using arm motion, this can help improve your speed (do not carry weights while walking as that can cause injury).
Week 6: Build on your Mileage
Time: Walk 30 minutes a day four days a week, paying attention to form and speed.
Long Walk: walk 60 minutes at an easy pace.
Weeks 7 and 8: Adding Intervals
You’ve done great and by now you could complete your 5K walk. This is a good time to add intervals to your walk as they help build stamina, speed and endurance.
For your long week this week, walk 60 minutes at an easy pace.
Week 9 and Beyond
Why not try turning your long walk into a dry run for your event every other week. Try to increase your pace and walk at 80% of the speed that you hope to walk for the 5K event. You can also try adding another 15 minutes to your walk to increase distance.