If you are otherwise healthy, 12 weeks of training is all you need in order to make that 5K not just doable but enjoyable, says Bill Pierce, co-author of "Run Less Run Faster" and a longtime marathoner.
Start walking: Washington, D.C., running coach Elyse Braner recommends a combination of jogging and walking the first few weeks for 30 minutes a day, three times a week.
Start out jogging for 30 seconds and walking for 90 seconds in the 30 minutes.
Once that combination becomes comfortable, start upping the jog portion and decreasing the walk portion until you are jogging the whole time.
Go the distance: When 30 minutes becomes comfortable change to distance 5K (3.1 miles). "You might get to a 5K in Week 3 or 4," Braner said.
Race-ready: By eight weeks, you could be race-ready, she said.
Protect yourself: It's important not to push too hard, too fast, Braner said. "It may not feel good, and you get discouraged, or worse, injured," she said.
Running coach Kathy Pugh says for good form and posture buy good shoes and get fitted at a running shoe store.
Cross training: Incorporate hill running to create running-specific strength training for the gluteus, quadriceps and hamstring muscles, Pugh says.
Other runner-friendly strength exercises, according to Pierce, are those that strengthen the core and the muscles that stabilize the hips and knees.
Pierce also promotes -- particularly for longer distances -- cross-training such as cycling and swimming to take some of the pressure off the joints while still conditioning.
Cool-down and stretching: Important for injury prevention and the body's need to recover and relax, Pierce said.
Race day: Pierce offers three pieces of advice: "Don't go out too fast, don't go out too fast, don't go out too fast." You can deplete your energy very quickly and hit a wall midway or at the end of the race.
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