A 5k is a great entry race for new runners, as well as seasoned athletes looking to improve their time.  Below are our best tips to help you prepare for the big race.

5k Running Tips

Tip #1: Set aside 8 Weeks for preparation

Eight weeks allows time to build up your cardio, and develop your muscles to improve performance and avoid injury.  Plus you’ll get comfortable running longer distances, at a faster pace, so that you’re more than ready for race day.

Tip #2: Map-out a practice route

It’s important to use a pre-measured running route for your training so that you can monitor your progress. You can either drive the route first to figure out the mileage, or there are plenty of free apps you can use on your phone. You’ll want to map out a run that’s four miles -- it’s a good idea to exceed a 5k distance (3.1 miles) during your training.

Always do a warm-up & stretch.

The last thing you want leading up to the big race is an injury.  Before each exercise it’s important to get your blood pumping with a five-minute warm-up -- fast walking, slow jogging, skipping, etc.  You should also loosen your muscles with either a foam roller or mild stretching.  And after each workout, you’ll want to thoroughly stretch the muscles you’ve just worked.

Invest in a quality running shoe.

If you’re new to running, you might not yet realize how important running shoes are to a runner. Not only can they make or break your performance, but if you don’t have the right shoes for a 5k, and for your specific needs, they can cause serious aching and even injuries like a rolled ankle.

Don’t worry, you don’t need the most expensive running shoes to get the job done.  You just have to select the right running shoe for your needs and goals.

How to Pick The Best Running Shoes For YOUR 5K Goals

Heavily cushioned 5K shoe options

If you’re concerned about injuries, or if you just appreciate a little extra protection between you and the ground, then you’d probably do best with a maximally cushioned running shoe.

Here are our picks for 5k running shoes with extra cushioning:

  1. Hoka Bondi 7
  2. Brooks Glycerin 18 
  3. New Balance 1080v10

Speedy 5K shoe options

If your goal is to improve your race time, then you’ll need a light and springy 5k running shoe.

Here are our best picks for a fast 5k race time:

  1. Saucony Kinvara 11
  2. adidas Adizero Adios 5 
  3. Brooks Hyperion Tempo 

5K-and-beyond shoe options

If you’re looking for a shoe that’s ideal for a 5k, but can also handle other tasks leading up to, and after, your race, then you’ll want an all-around running shoe.

Here are our picks for the best 5k-and-beyond running shoes:

  1. Brooks Ghost 13
  2. ASICS Gel Cumulus 22
  3. Mizuno Wave Rider 24

Stability 5K shoe options

If you’re an overpronator, or just prefer a shoe that guides your foot to land properly with each step, then you may want to look into stability running shoes.

Here are some popular stability shoe models:

  1. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20
  2. ASICS GEL-Kayano 27 
  3. Mizuno Wave Inspire 16 

Off-road 5K shoe options

If your 5k goes off-road, where you will be running on unpredictable surfaces -- like mud, gravel, or grass -- then you’ll probably want a trail running shoe.

Here are our top picks for an off-road 5k shoe:

  1. Saucony Peregrine 10
  2. Brooks Cascadia 14
  3. Salomon Speedcross 5 

Once you’ve got your route mapped out,
and you’ve chosen the best running shoes for your needs and goals,
you’re ready to begin training for the big race.

If you’d like help preparing for your 5k, you can check out our free guide: The Ultimate 8-Week Training Program For Your First 5K