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Schedule and motivation


For someone new to participating in road races, completing a 5K — which stands for five kilometers, or 3.1 miles — is an attainable and satisfying goal. For those with more experience, a 5K can help you keep up your healthy running habits, offer new challenges depending on how fast you want to go, or even be used to train for longer race distances.

Wherever you are in your 5K journey, use our training schedule to get to the finish line, and refer to our tips for maximum preparedness.


5K training schedule: 12 WEEKS

St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend participant


Our plan has your long run on Saturdays, but you can do your long run any day of the week that works best for you, as long as you're consistent. Long runs build the physical and mental stamina to cover the miles on race day.

Your midweek runs should be done at a pace that feels easy to you (a pace at which you can carry on a conversation). Easy runs burn calories and build mileage but should not put cardio stress on the body.

Rest days means rest. Recovery time is vital to increasing your strength and stamina.

Cross-training can be any low-impact, non-running activity (weight training, swimming, cycling, walking, etc.). If you need an extra rest day, use your cross-training day to recover.

Week(s) until race Mon.  Tues.  Wed.  Thurs.  Fri.  Sat.  Sun.
12 rest 1 mile walk 1.5 miles
cross-training 1.5 miles 30 min. walk
11 rest 1.5 walk 1.5 cross-training 1.5 35 min. walk
10 rest 1.5 walk 1.5 cross-training 2 35 min. walk
9 rest 1.5 walk 1.5 cross-training 2 40 min. walk
8 rest 2 walk 2 cross-training 3 40 min. walk
7 rest 2 walk 2 cross-training 3 45 min. walk
6 rest 2.5 walk 2 cross-training 3 45 min. walk
5 rest 2.5 walk 2 cross-training 4 45 min. walk
4 rest 3 walk 2 cross-training 4 60 min. walk
3 rest 3 walk 2 cross-training 5 60 min. walk
2 rest 4
walk 2 cross-training 5 45 min. walk
1 rest 4 walk 2 rest
3.1 - RACE DAY

Download This Training Plan






Know your goal. What do you want from your 5K? To make it to the finish line? To run the whole way with no walk breaks? To beat your personal 5K record? Starting your training process with a specific goal in mind will help you focus on what you want to achieve. This is your race, so set your expectations based on what you want out of it.




Visualize your success. Though running and walking are physical activities, your mind plays a big role in how you perform. You can help mentally prepare yourself for race day by thinking positively and imagining your success.




Get out there. As important as planning is, on race day you’ll only get to the finish line by going out and doing it. The more you walk or run, the more you’ll learn and the more confident you’ll become. So get out there!




Have fun! Participating in a 5K is something you’re doing for yourself. Though there may be times during training — or the race itself — that are challenging, you can find enjoyment in having a goal and pushing past your known limits. And nothing beats the joy of crossing the finish line — remember to relish it.


Join a 5K near you, and support St. Jude 

Use your 5K race to help benefit children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Your participation can help ensure no family pays for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. 

St. Jude patients wearing St. Jude merchandise

During September, we hold St. Jude Walk/Run 5K events across the country for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Find one near you, or participate in the St. Jude Virtual Walk/Run, and walk or run a 5K anytime, anywhere for the kids of St. Jude.


St. Jude Thaddaeus campus statue

Join us for the St. Jude Memphis 5K the first Saturday in December. Explore the city of Memphis and run through the campus of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital during St. Jude Memphis Marathon® Weekend.