27 March, 2018
How to Train for a 5K Race
How to Train for a 5K Race
Health & Wellness

Running Tips for Beginners: How to Train for a 5k Race

27 March, 2018
How to Train for a 5K Race

Join us as we train with the Women’s Five to compete in our first 5k race! We’ll be updating you on our progress each week with tips, tricks and first hand experiences as we make our way through the five-week programme.


With both the London and Paris marathons taking place next month, strong women from around the world are training to push their bodies to the limit and run a staggering 42k to the finish line. And while we’re taking ahem, ‘baby steps’ here at Sassy, we’ve since felt inspired to sign up to Hong Kong’s only, all-female race and run 5 kilometres with women from all over the city through Aberdeen Country Park on Saturday, 28 April.

If, like us, you’re not a seasoned sprinter and prefer a good ‘ol Netflix marathon to pounding the pavements, then why not take the plunge with us? Over the next five weeks, we’ll be gearing up and getting our blood pumping in an effort to go from complete running beginners to competing in (and hopefully completing!) our first ever 5k race. We’ll be joining in the meetups and updating you with our progress each week, as well as sharing tips, tricks and first-hand experience that’s helping us through the programme as we etch ever closer to D-Day. Watch this space!

Ps. If you’re keen to be a part of the Women’s Five, you can sign up at any time — more info here!


Annie Simpson, Associate Editor

The start of the Women’s Five training plan came around super quickly – and although it seems like a short distance to some, I’m no runner, and it began to sink in that I’m actually going to have to do this in just a few short weeks! Despite my apprehensions, the plan has actually started out okay (the sunny skies we’ve been having have helped!), and it hasn’t been too difficult to fit the three short runs around my daily routine. Watch this space to see how week two goes as training gets a little more intense…

Song which got me through: I Ran, by A Flock of Seagulls (lol)
Tip for the week: I get bored quickly while running, so found that running with a buddy made it easier and much more fun!
In an emoji: 🏃🏼

Bea Hug, Graphic Designer

After having a momentary memory lapse and forgetting that I had signed up for this, I found myself in a minor panic realising that I had to begin my training while on holiday and in the midst of birthday libations. But no excuses (unfortunately), the Women’s Five Beginner Program is totally doable wherever you are in the world. I really enjoyed the varying paces in the recommended training runs, and felt that it allowed me to push myself through sporadic bursts of energy. The bite-sized training paces, coupled with my newly downloaded Nike+ Run Club app (who am I?), I was able to get a sense of my progress as well as keeping me accountable with my effort level. Marking myself at a pretty consistent Effort Level 6 (Challenging – breathing hard not talking much), I’m looking forward to pushing myself harder next week while taking advantage of running by exploring stunning Sydney at the same time. Greetings from Oz!

Song which got me through: Locked by Meeka Kates
Tip for the week:  Download an app that helps you to visualise your progress! I could barely fathom the distance of a 5k in my minds eye, but after using Nike+ Run Club, I feel like I have a better grasp of the distance as well as what my body’s capable of – and dare I say, this seems doable!  Other apps to check out: Relive 3D Videos of your Hikes, Runs and MoreStrava GPS Cycling and Running App
In an emoji: 🐨

Lexi Davey, Editor

If it weren’t for a pre-set training plan, I’d likely have just spent the long weekend in my pajamas eating spaghetti bolognese and watching ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ on Netflix. Okay, so I did do that, but having a starting point to keep me focused throughout the week then enabled me to set some goals as I  combined running with intermittent walking (which is more than I’ve done in a long, long time!); a stepping stone in my journey from couch, to 5k. The training started with only three runs this week which were then split into bursts of short runs (two minutes) and walking (three minutes), four times. Funnily enough, the hardest part was committing to putting on my gym gear.

Song which got me through: Cola by CamelPhat, Elderbrook
Tip for the week: If you’re a pup parent, take your pooch along for the ride. Once your dog gets going, they like to keep up the momentum – and you don’t have much choice in doing so either.
In an emoji: 🐕


Annie Simpson, Associate Editor

I’m not going to lie, this week my training plan failed in spectacular style. But I have an excuse! While I may have had the best intentions to work my training around my trip home to the UK, the weather had other ideas, and with a week of miserable rain and cold, I found it near impossible to get out for a run. The most I could manage was a romp around the fields with my mum and the dog – so that counts for something, right? This week I’m looking to get back on it and enjoy the Hong Kong weather (smog and all!) at Bowen Road this weekend.

Song which got me through: None 🙈
Tip for the week: Always using weather as an excuse? (hot or cold!) – try alternative exercises which aren’t outside, like yoga at home, spin classes, or even something adventurous like rock climbing!
In an emoji: 🌧

Bea Hug, Graphic Designer

While I didn’t manage to fit in as many training runs as I’d like last week, I think I achieved a decent compromise by upping my average effort level on my few runs to a Nike Effort Level to 7 (Hard – Tough workout, hard to talk)! Am looking forward to being back home in HK, taking advantage of being back on my own turf and getting into a solid routine with (hopefully) no distractions. This week, I’m planning to switch it up between running outdoors as well as on the treadmill and see how that affects my progress!

Song which got me through: Stumbling – Jay Taj
Tip for the week: Avoid the sun! Easier said than done, but try to start your day a little earlier to get a shady cool run. Alternatively, fit a quick one in in the evening? Attempting cardio when the Hong Kong sun is against you is an extra feat no one needs to endure.
In an emoji: ⛅

Lexi Davey, Editor

After an indulgent Easter and knowing that I was in for a heavy Sevens weekend, I’ll admit that my running scheduled suffered slightly. I managed two runs throughout the week (I’ll take that!) and had every intention to join the Women’s Five girls for a Sunday run on Bowen Road… but my hangover said differently. Upping the ante to 4 stints of running for 4 minutes and walking for 2 minutes, I felt tired much more quickly, but also found that with the longer running time I could actually get into my stride (before keeling over each traffic light). I’m looking forward to making it to the running session this Sunday (please keep my accountable) … but I won’t lie, week three looks somewhat daunting.

Song which got me through: Stay Free – Proto (feat Djodie)
Tip for the week: Create a playlist to match your run! Find a couple of good songs that are of similar length to the amount of time that you are running for – time goes much more quickly and is its more motivating than watching time tick over on your phone.
In an emoji: 🏉 😷


Meditation in Hong Kong

Annie Simpson, Associate Editor

This week was all about meditation, so I obviously took this as an excuse to take my training a little easy. Although taking the odd meditation class and group exercise before, I never thought it would be for me, but with a busy week back at work, taking five every now and again really helped. Even if it was just pausing for a cup of peppermint tea in the morning, or before going to sleep.

Song which got me through: ​None​
Tip for the week: ​Apps like Headspace can help when starting out with meditation, or you can simply find a song which relaxes you, or set a timer on your phone​ to stop you fidgeting!
In an emoji: 🍵

Bea Hug, Graphic Designer

This week I managed to take it off the road and on the treadmill. Is it cheating that I enjoyed this way more? Air-conditioning? Check. Easy time-keeping? Check. Avoid the awful spitting rain? Big check. While I managed to run harder and longer indoors, I’m curious to see how this affects me getting back on the road this week. Combining meditation with routine exercise was a big mental game changer for me, there are little things in this tech-infused life that let our mind’s eye relax and making the time for that work/life balance is so important. Looking forward to being mindful this week!

Song which got me through: I Like It – Cardi B
Tip for week: Focus on your breath. If you’re like me and you find the attempt to be still distracting and deliriously difficult. Take it one step at a time and just focus on your act of breathing. As you take long and deep breaths, feel your breath move through your lungs and out your nose. Your mind may still wander but having a clear focal point will make things easier!
In an emoji: ✌

Lexi Davey, Editor

As you would assume, the Women’s Five running schedule has only gotten harder (how did it suddenly jump up to 8 minutes run, 1 minute walk?) so it was nice to know that we were allowed to take things slower this week and instead of continuously pounding the pavements, focus on our minds. Afterall, not all barriers are physical! Turns out there is a multitude of meditation types, but I decided to try ‘Walking Meditation,’ and turn my focus to “the feeling of walking and experiencing what is around us.” A great way to meditate when you’re on the go, I found that by going for an evening stroll it also helped to clear my mind of work stress, as well as kept me active (and not feeling so guilty about missing one or two runs this week!).

Song which got me through: I have my usual running playlists, but decided to skip the songs while ‘meditating,’ and instead embrace the practice of mindfulness and take notice of my breath and surroundings.
Tip for the week: There is no right or wrong way to meditate, but if you’re new at this, start with just a minute a day and build on this throughout the week. It has been said that the turning point in a meditative practice is the 20 minute mark, so take your time and enjoy the process!
In an emjoi: 🌛

Read more: Your Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness in Hong KongQuick Meditation Tips That You Can Actually Use


Annie Simpson, Associate Editor

This week it really started to dawn on me that the run is actually happening. I know that for many running 5km may be a piece of cake, but for me the prospect is slightly terrifying, so this week I’ve been even more grateful for the support of Women’s Five and the friends running it with me. After a somewhat relaxing meditation week last week, I attempted to step it up a little and get out there and enjoy our city’s beautiful landscape. Fitting in a run (/walk) around work turned out to be easier than expected, with a upcoming video shoot day lending itself for us to explore the great outdoors! Along with actually getting out this week, in light of the mindfulness theme, I’ve tried to also focus on my diet, and not constantly find myself absentmindedly eating (harder said than done in the Sassy office!). We’re so often just on autopilot, so this week was all about engaging a little bit more, and thinking: do I really need this cookie?

With our race packs collected (and our brunch reservation made for post-race), the countdown is on!

Song which got me through: “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac
Tip for the week: I’ve said it before, but it’s just about the only thing that makes running more enjoyable for me: find a buddy! Find a pace that suits you both, put on some tunes, or have a chat – having a friend along for the ride makes it much more fun​.
In an emjoi:  ⛰​

Bea Hug, Graphic Designer

One week to go! And we’re all about being mindful. Adding a little mindfulness to my run definitely has me changing the way I approach the activity. Believe it or not, I’m taking the time to actively think about my body and the physicality of running – making me appreciate and enjoy it all the more, as opposed to just focusing on the end goal and trying to figure out when it’s going to be over. We’ve picked up our run bibs, and are looking forward to seeing all you strong women at the finish line!

Song which got me through: Icon – Jaden Smith
Tip for the week: Upgrade your running gear! You’ve earned it. Nothing hype’s me up like a little retail therapy and something new to try to “help” my workout. I got a fancy insulated grip-free water bottle with storage for my phone, keys and some cash at:

RacingThePlanet Nam Wo Hong Building, Wing Lok St, Sheung Wan www.racingtheplanet.com

In an emoji: 💰

Lexi Davey, Editor

Although the week’s theme was all about taking the time to ground and check in with yourself, I found myself more concerned with how quickly time was going and with the pressures of an impending 5km race, wanted to challenge myself to go for as many runs as I could this week! I decided to forgo the schedule and instead track my runs with MapMyRun, working to beat my pace per kilometre each time (before collapsing!). I still have some work to do, so this last week will be the true test, but I’m looking forward to joining all of the Women’s Five ladies on Saturday and celebrating as we cross the finish line (with a couple of glasses of prosecco and a hearty meal, no less).

Song which got me through: Fake ID – Riton
Tip for the week:
Invest in good-quality insoles! I’ve always known that my feet are on the flatter side, which I find can often lead to knee pain, bruised heels and a painful instep. Investing in insoles which not only correctly align your feet to correct your posture but also mould to your feet and trainers has made such a difference to my runs! Newly opened FootBalance on D’Aguilar Street offer a high-tech analysis to create 100% custom insoles in literally 10 minutes. I’d highly recommend popping in and learning more if, like me, you suffer from any discomfort when you train. 
In an emoji: 👣


Women's Five Hong Kong

Annie Simpson, Associate Editor

We’ve done it! The race has been run, the brunch has been eaten, and plenty of Aperol Spritz was polished off in celebration. On the morning of the run, I have got to admit, I was slightly regretting my somewhat lacks approach to training – there were a lot of ladies there and you could tell that for many of them, this was certainly not their first rodeo. So, when the time to start the race was upon us, we naturally made our way to the back of the pack… Although, once the race started, we actually found that we were (surprisingly!) not at the very back of the bunch, though, even if we were, it wouldn’t have mattered.

What made doing the Women’s Five so enjoyable in the end was the feeling of support and community – we were met with constant encouragement from fellow runners and race organisers throughout, and even on the toughest of sections of never-ending stairs, there were plenty of others right there sweating away with us. Of course, it also helped that the three of us chose to run together – running is all in your head, and it really helped having someone along with you to keep you going and make you run just a little bit further before having a rest. I definitely wanted to give up before we’d even got to the first 1km mark, but after making myself keep going just a little bit more, I realised that I could actually do this. Sure, 5km isn’t the longest run in the world, but the sense of achievement we got from completing it was enough to make me (maybe) think about doing it again.

Song which got me through: Shawn Mendes – There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back
Tip for the week: You’re most likely stronger and fitter than you think,  so try to push yourself a little to see what you can really achieve!
In an emoji: 💪

Bea Hug, Graphic Designer

Five weeks has sped by, and so have we! Past the finish line that is. Well, sped might be a tad generous, but Team Sassy have completed what seemed impossible five weeks ago. While I’m still feeling those many, many steps in my thighs, the feeling of accomplishment far outweighs the pain. For anyone looking to begin their running journey, I could not recommend this training plan more. I personally will be coming back to it again with a stricter vengeance, and who knows, maybe see you next year?

Song which got me through: Thunder – Imagine Dragons
Tip for the week: Find your running pack! Surround yourself with people who motivate you, no matter what their level is, a little group motivation goes a long way.
In an emoji: 🐎

Lexi Davey, Editor

For someone who’s level of fitness peaked at bicep-curling pizza towards her mouth, I’m feeling really proud of both myself and my Sassy Girls who stuck with me every step of the way and smashed 5k. Having gone for a ‘practice’ run on the Thursday night before the race and only managing to hit 4k before (almost) throwing up, I was feeling apprehensive as we took to the starting line. But I have totally agree with the girls in that strength is in numbers and running is all a mind game. You are fitter and faster than you believe yourself to be, and sometimes it takes signing up to something totally out of your comfort zone to bring that to light. Who’s in for a 10k?

Song which got me through: The Chainsmokers – Closer ft. Halsey
Tip for the week: Set yourself small goals as you start to run. Whether it be making it to the 1km mark before a quick breather, or making a pact with yourself that you will run until you reach each set of stairs or hill, having those small tangible goals will make the distance pass much more quickly. 
In an emoji: 🏆

Featured image courtesy of getty images

Back to top