Several years ago, I told a friend I wished I could run a 5k.

“Why can’t you?”

“I’m so out of shape. I don’t have time. I don’t know where I’d run.” <insert various other excuses here>

That’s when she said the words that quite literally changed my life. “It’s not like you go run one right now. You plan for it and you train.”

Planning? Now she was speaking my language. Fast forward to now. I’ve run more 5k and 10k races than I can count and 3 half marathons.  It all started with a plan and a belief that I could complete the distance.

A 5k is a great distance to start. In case you’re wondering, that’s 3.1 miles. It’s a realistic distance to achieve within a reasonable time frame. You’ll get a huge sense of accomplishment from setting your goal and achieving it. You’ll also get to experience the race atmosphere and see how amazing the running community can be.

Here are 5 steps to help you achieve your first 5k.

1. Invest in good running shoes.

Don’t skip this part. Seriously, your entire body will thank you. I am super frugal and running shoes are a little spendy, but this is a non-negotiable part of our budget. Running requires very little equipment, but you don’t want to skimp here and risk sidelining yourself with an injury.

I highly recommend getting fitted at a running store. These people know their stuff and they’re more than happy to help you find the perfect fit. To find a running store near you, ask your runner friends for recommendations or simply Google “running store” and the name of your city.

You’ll want to keep track of the miles you put on your shoes so you know when it’s time to replace them. New runners, shoot for 300-350 miles before you swap out for a new pair. I use a page in the Notes section of my Limelife Planner to track mileage on my current shoes. After each run, I hash mark in the number of miles I logged.

2. Pick a Plan.

Most 5k training plans are 6-9 weeks long. There are several things to consider when choosing the plan that’s right for you such as your current fitness level, the number of runs you can manage each week and whether you want to run for time or distance.

One of my favorite plans is the Couch-to-5k plan from It’s just like it sounds. You start from square one and work up to running a 5k in 9 weeks. This is the plan I followed when I first started running and I used it again after each of my kids were born to get back into 5k shape. Moms Run This Town has another great plan for beginner runners. If neither of those looks like they will work for you, Pinterest is another great place to find a plan.

I print out my training plan and put it into my planner so I can reference when I’m scheduling my weekly runs. Sometimes you have to get creative to make it fit, but hello! That’s what planner girls do best, right? ;) Here I have the top part of my plan glued onto a divider in my planner, then the bottom folded up and secured with a paper clip. This would also work perfectly washi taped to a laminated dashboard.

3. Pick a Race.

Count out your weeks from the time you begin your training plan to figure out the date you will “graduate.” Start looking for 5ks as close to that date as you can. Many running stores have a bulletin board with flyers for upcoming events. You can also visit and search by zip code to find races in your area.

If registration is open, go ahead and sign up! Paying your registration fee will make you more likely to stick with that plan. Being committed gives each run a purpose. Want to make your miles even more meaningful? Look for a race that benefits a charity you’re passionate about supporting.

Once you’ve registered, put it in your planner. Highlight it, use all the stickers, double washi border around it, whatever it takes so that you see it boldly and it inspires you.

4. Find a buddy.

Having a running buddy or accountability partner makes you more likely to stick with your training.

There are several ways to find one. Post on your social media. Maybe one of your friends is looking, too! That running store is again a wealth of knowledge and support. They may have a program to help runners find a buddy or they may have scheduled run groups. Don’t be intimidated if you’re not an elite runner. They’ll likely have groups on different days for various levels or they’ll match up runners of similar paces (and there will be a wide range) within the group.  Moms Run This Town is an organization with run group chapters all over the United States and Canada. You don’t have to be a mom to join and it’s completely free.

Even if you’re not able to physically run with another person, you can still pair up with an accountability partner. Find a friend with a similar goal and commit to text each other after each run. If you’re a mom, find another mother runner to kid share. One of you can drop your kids off with the other and go for a run. When that person gets back, they stay with the kids and the other person heads out to log their miles.

5. Plan it Out.

Treat your runs like any other appointment. Your well-being is just as important as any meeting, dentist appointment, kid’s soccer game or dinner date.
The days I run can vary from week to week so I put one week in my planner at a time. Write in the time, distance or intervals your training plan specifies for that day. I like to leave myself a little extra room to write in notes about my run or give myself a gold star sticker for completing the workout. 

Now all that’s left to do is get out there and do it! Don’t get discouraged if the runs feel hard. The plans are designed to challenge you while safely increasing mileage. One foot in front of the other, friend. You got this.

*virtual fist bump*

This blog post was written by Katie Clark for the Limelife Planners Media & Creative Team. For more information about Katie visit her on Instagram @katiedidproductions. Please share and repost this blog entry with your friends! All we ask is that you give credit to Limelife Planners and the post author.