How to Train for a 5K

Written by Angele Satariano

An accountant by profession, Angele spent 8 years at a desk job, until she decided to follow her dream to become an athlete and open her own health and fitness studio – Active Spirit which offers a range of classes including high intensity circuits, pilates, yoga, pre-natal fitness and post-natal recovery. She qualified as a Personal Trainer with Premier International Training in London and also undertook a pre/post-natal certification with Premier. Appreciating the importance of proper guidance and support for women during these key phases of their lives she dove in deep and qualified in two advanced certifications with Burrell Education. She is determined to make a difference by empowering women to take control of their health by educating them and giving them the tools to live happy, fit and healthy lives.

Her running personal best times are: 1500m 4’49”, 3000m 10’31”, 5000m 18’30”, 10km 38’22” and half marathon 1hr 27’37″.

Angele represented Malta in the European and World Mountain Running Championships in 2016 and 2017 and also ran the 1500m at the European Team Championships that were held in Malta in June 2017.

How to Train for a 5k

The feeling of crossing the finish line of your first ever race is not to be underestimated! Most runners will feel ecstatic after a race, whether it’s their first or their 100th – I can vouch for that! That runner’s high is good enough reason to kick start your training, right?

Here are my top tips on how to train for your first 5km

1. Sign up for a race!

Training requires commitment, dedication and is hard work. I’m gonna be honest, there will be days when you wake up in the morning and don’t feel like running. Signing up for a race will give your training purpose and you’ll be less likely to miss a training session if you’ve got a target to work towards.

You can find a full list of all races happening in Malta on

2. Buy some super cool running gear

If you want to run, you’ve got to look and most importantly FEEL like a runner, and there’s nothing that’s gonna do the trick better than some awesome trainers, shorts, leggings and vests.


I LOVE shopping for running gear and feel so motivated when I’ve got a new set of clothes to train with. Getting dressed for a run is so much fun when you’ve got nice matching clothes from which to choose.

Being comfortable is of utmost importance. I avoid buying shorts that I’m gonna have to constantly pull down because they’re riding up my thighs. It’s so distracting when you have to adjust your clothing while running, so be sure that you’re 100% comfortable before buying anything. Sometimes I jog on the spot and do some squats in the changing room to see whether I’m comfortable to move around.


SHOES, SHOES, SHOES – having the right pair of shoes is super important and will help avoid injuries! Remember you’re going to be running KM’s and KM’s in these shoes and they’re your shock absorbers for the impact. Make sure you buy a proper pair of running shoes. Look up reviews online and get good advice from the sales assistants. I’ve used many different brands including Nike, Asics, Saucony and New Balance. I must admit that New Balance are my favorite at the moment but I’ve done plenty of runs and races in other brands.

GPS watch

A GPS watch will be extremely useful for training and racing. This device will tell you how much distance you’ve covered, how long it took you, your pace per KM and many other things depending on which model you buy. This is a great tool to compare training sessions, track progress and see your race statistics. I’ve always used Garmin and I highly recommend their watches.

3. Find a group of runners

Running in a group can be very motivating. It doesn’t matter if your running buddies are faster/slower than you. Setting appointments with others to meet for a run can really help you to be motivated and not skip sessions.

4. Take your own pace

There’s no use going out for your first run and trying to sprint for 20mins. It’s just not going to happen and it will be so hard you might get completely disheartened! The key is to start slowly and build up your fitness day-by-day, week-by-week. The beginning is going to be hard, but I promise it will get better as you get fitter.

The best place to start is with walking. Go out for fast walks of 15 minutes, and gradually build up to 20, 30 and 40 minutes. If you’ve got your GPS watch, you might begin to notice that you’re covering more distance in the same amount of time than the first time you went for your walk.

Eventually, brisk walking for 40 minutes is going to become very manageable and maybe easy. This is when you start to add some jogging: for e.g. you could brisk walk for 10 minutes, jog slowly for 5 minutes and brisk walk for another 10 minutes. Gradually start increasing the jogging time for e.g. 10 minutes brisk walk, 15 minutes jogging, 10 minutes brisk walk and then continue to increase the jogging time in 5 minute increments every week. There’s no rule, just go with how you feel. Try and keep the total duration of the session between 30 minutes and one hour. You need to get used to spending time on your feet so don’t cut your sessions too short. Eventually, you should be covering at least 5km in your total session (the walking still counts as mileage).

5. Focus on distance, not speed

Focus on going further, and not harder. Maintain a nice, easy, rhythmic pace which is comfortable for you and which you can sustain for a long time, not a hard pace which you can only keep for a few minutes. Using an HR monitor could help you, or you could use the “talk test” (run at a pace at which you’re comfortable to talk). When I go for my easy runs with my husband or other running buddies we chat and laugh the whole way. You’ll soon be running for 30-40 minutes at a stretch and boy it’s gonna feel soooo good!!

6. Use the weekend to your advantage

Weekdays tend to be hectic as we’re usually rushing to and from work, cooking for the family (or for ourselves) and other errands. It makes sense to plan your main/longer sessions for the weekend when you’re a bit more relaxed and have more time. Your mind is also less distracted and so you can give your full attention to the training session.

7. Take rest days

Rest is just as important as training to avoid burnout and injury. Taking a rest day doesn’t mean you should sit on the sofa all day long! You could still go for a nice brisk walk, or maybe go to a yoga session! Always listen to your body and if needs be take an extra day of rest if you feel too fatigued.

Your body adapts to the training stimulus while you sleep so proper sleep hygiene is key. Get to bed early, avoid bright lights, TV, iPad’s and mobiles 2 hours before bed, have a magnesium supplement or maybe even an Epsom salt bath.

8. Add in some strength training

Lifting some weights is going to help strengthen the main muscles which you use to run and also your joints and supporting muscles, ligaments and tendons, thus helping to avoid injury. Gym work is going to make you stronger, leaner, more toned and a better runner! A win-win don’t you say!?

9. Breathe

My most used phrases when I’m in class with my clients is ‘inhale, exhale’ or ‘remember to breathe’. Yes breathing is a vital part of being alive, but many of us don’t know how to breathe properly and sometimes we forget to breathe altogether! When we inhale, oxygen enters our blood stream and is transported to our muscles and organs that need it most during that activity. If you don’t breathe properly when you run, your body will be lacking the fuel it needs.

Diaphragmatic breathing is also the proper way to breathe. When you breathe using your diaphragm this is what you should feel:

When you inhale, you should feel your diaphragm lowering and your abdominal wall relaxing and stretching outwards. Your pelvic floor also relaxes and stretches downwards as you inhale (we are less aware of this since we cannot see it happening).

When you exhale, you should feel your abdominal wall returning back with very subtle tension being created in the muscles. You should also feel your pelvic floor and diaphragm rising back up to their original position.

Your chest shouldn’t move up and down when you breath using your diaphragm. This ‘booby breathing’ is a shallow breath and non-optimal.

10. Have lots and lots of fun!

Just go out there, run, feel great and enjoy it!! Don’t be too hard on yourself (I’m sometimes guilty of this!). We all have our good days and our bad days. Some days we feel on top of the world, and other days we feel exhausted and unsure how we’re going to get through our day. But it’s ok! Go cross that finish line with a huge smile on your face!!!

And there you have it, my top tips for preparing for your first 5km! I hope you find them useful and that you enjoy every part of this journey you’re about to embark on! Please do not hesitate to ask me any questions, it would be an honour to help you out in any way I can – a big, massive GOOD LUCK coming your way!


Get in touch with Angele via her Facebook page @activespiritmalta or follow her on Instagram.

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