If you've been meaning to start running, or to take your running more seriously, today is your lucky day. We're launching a new challenge that will unfold over the next seven weeks, with the goal of getting you ready to run your first, or fastest, 5K. Photo by Beth Skwarecki
If you aren't sure you're ready for an organised race, that's fine: You can still follow along with our weekly challenges, and plan on a celebratory run, solo or with friends, to cap off all your hard work.
Ready to commit? Here's how to set a goal, and create a plan to work toward it.
If you're new to running, or if it's been a very long time, these next seven weeks will be your gentle introduction to running. A 5K is a perfect goal distance: Long enough to be challenging, but short enough that you don't have to worry about whether you can actually finish.
The ideal plan to get you in shape is a "couch to 5K" style program. These programs start you off with short intervals of walking and jogging: For example, 60 seconds of running followed by a 90 second walk break. By the end, you can jog half an hour without stopping.
The classic couch to 5K program is nine weeks long, but don't worry if the timing doesn't line up perfectly. We have seven weeks, and if you've been running for seven weeks, you'll be able to finish a 5K and have fun doing it -- even if you have to work in a few walk breaks.
For Experienced Runners
If you already know how to run, you get to be a little more creative in your goal and your plan. Remember, we'll have some weekly challenges to keep things interesting, but you can still take ownership of your path toward the goal you choose.
You may want to try other distance options (a 10K, perhaps) or you may want to tackle the 5K with a goal of improving your time over the last one you did. Or maybe the race itself isn't super important to you, but you want to focus on consistency in your training: Say, getting out for a run five days a week, or racking up a total of 150km by the time the challenge ends.
Once you've figured out what goal means the most to you, it's time to pick a plan that will get you there. I'm going to focus on consistency and on beating my time from earlier this winter, so I'm setting up a training plan with Nike Run Club's virtual coach that includes the right number of runs and plenty of speedwork.
Whatever you choose, you're in for seven weeks of great running weather. What's not to love? Tell us below what goal you've decided on, and let's get started together.