CHAARG Run Club Training Guide: Making The Plan Work For You

This is your guide to everything you’ll need to crush your training this fall! Read through it to find all of our training tips, how to modify + adjust the plan to make it work for you, + more!

Training 101: Where Do I Start?

NOTE: If you are doing the First 5K plan, you do not need a pace chart! Your runs will be a walk-run style ++ you should be focusing on going at a pace that seems sustainable to you rather than trying to hit a certain speed : ) A good rule of thumb is that you could sing “Mary had a little lamb” while you are running. Do not compare yourself to others + trust the process! This is all about building your endurance, not speed (yet)!

Our pace chart has 5 paces on it. You can determine what paces you’ll want to be running by either looking at your goal 5K or 10K pace — the pace you ideally want to run your 5K or 10K in OR by going out + running a couple of miles easily. Don’t look at your watch or app — just run at a conversational pace. Whatever your average pace for those 2 miles is is your easy pace, + you’ll be following along in that pace group.

Long Run Pace Easy Run Pace Goal 5K or 10K Pace Tempo Pace Speed Pace
This range is SLOWER than your easy run pace — because you’ll be going further when doing this pace. It’s a helpful way to build miles + remembering to take it slow on your long runs.  This is your easy pace that you can have a conversation at. You should enjoy running at this pace + it feels natural to you! Your goal 5K or 10K pace! If you want a pace added to the chart, just reach out in the slack!  Tempo runs are done to increase your endurance + speed. This is not an all out sprint — but it’s working at a 50-70% effort.   Your speed pace will be used on speed interval workouts + helping you build speed throughout the plan. This is a 70-90% effort + you’ll expect these to be shorter workouts. **Note, this is the same as your goal 5K pace! 

Example 1 of finding your pace chart: Using your goal half marathon pace. Jill wants to run a sub 26 minute 5K — so she’ll look at the pace chart where the 5K time would be below 25 minutes. This would be Jill’s pace chart: 

Long Run Pace Easy Run Pace Goal 5K Pace Tempo Pace Speed Pace
10:56-11:56/Mile 10:56/Mile 8:15/Mile (25:38) 9:09/Mile 8:15/Mile

Example 2 of finding your pace chart: Using your easy run pace. Sarah runs an easy 2-3 miles at an average 9:00 minute/mile pace — so Sarah will start her plan using the paces in the first row + as she gets more comfortable at that pace, will work down to the paces in the second row. 

Long Run Pace Easy Run Pace Goal 5K pace Tempo Pace Speed Pace 
9:21-10:21/Mile 9:21/Mile 7:01/Mile (1:44:53) 7:47/Mile 7:01/Mile
8:48-9:48/Mile 8:48/Mile 6:36/Mile (1:38:19) 7:19/Mile 6:36/Mile

**If you need help with your pace chart, don’t hesitate to reach out in our CHAARG Run Club Slack! 

NOTE: For the First 5K plan: You’ll have days where you feel great + love running ++ you’ll inevitably have days where you feel like a slug in the sun. For this plan, I encourage you to go by how you feel that day. Maybe you need to add more walk breaks or maybe you can walk less. Either works for you! Some days your intervals will feel faster than others + that is OK! The goal of this plan is to learn to love running, not stress out about hitting a certain pace!

For the Fastest 5K plan: You’ll find yourself getting faster throughout training — it will feel so good to look back + see that a pace that was once really challenging has become easy. Adjust your paces when you find that you’re beginning to *naturally* run at the pace above your established pace chart! ++ Keep in mind, you might be *in between* or bouncing between paces for a little bit… that’s totally okay too! In that case, go by the rate of perceived exertion chart [found on the first page with the pace chart] to help make sure you’re not overdoing your workouts.

FIRST 5K: Start off SLOW! Even if it feels like you are just shuffling forward, that is OK! Remember – forward is a pace! I think that one of the biggest mistakes new runners make is starting off too fast. When the pace says *easy*, you should think suuuuuper easy! Don’t worry about what your watch or running app says — just go at a pace where you could have a conversation with someone. This pace will build your aerobic base + endurance ++ will help you fall in love with running : ) 

FASTEST 5K: If you’ve taken some time off running + coming back, then make sure you’re starting slow + sticking to that easy pace. Your fitness will come back faster than you think but you don’t want to get injured! If you’ve been running a lot — keep doing what you’re doing ; )

Reading The Training Plan

When you first look at the training plan you might think to yourself… “what have I got myself into?!”.  Take a deep breath + relax! We’re going to go through the first week so I can break down what everything means ; )

Light yoga, foam rolling, taking a walk. You need to have *at least* one full rest day every week [if you’re new to running or having a training plan, I recommend taking 2-3 rest days every week]. Resting + allowing your body time to recover is an essential part of training!

First 5K: All of your runs are similar — walk-run structures while building distance + building the time that you are running! Throughout the plan you’ll see your run times increasing + walk times decreasing as well the total distance covered increasing. The key is to stay positive + know that one bad day doesn’t mean that you can’t do this. You just have to keep putting in the work + trusting the process!

Fastest 5K/Beginner 10K/Advanced 10K: Monday recovery run. Recovery runs are the foundation of training + help build your aerobic base. They are exactly what they sound like… for recovery! Your pace for these should be an easy pace [able to have a conversation] + by the end of the run you should be feeling good. Do not skip these runs!! It’s tempting to think that these are the throw-away runs but they are not! Later in the training guide we’ll talk about what run to skip if you want to do only 3 runs/week : ) 

*Do the Runner SAM routine after your Recovery Run! 

First 5K: Tuesday Runner SAM Routines. Every Tuesday you’ll complete a different Runner SAM routine! These are different strength + mobility routines that last anywhere from 10-20 minutes. They should help you build strength while also opening up your body in a dynamic way during the week. Feel free to repeat them throughout the week more often ++ feel free to do them more than once on Tuesdays, too ; )

Fastest 5K/Beginner 10K/Advanced 10K: Speed run. Speed runs are shorter intervals that have you going pretty fast [think: sprinting]. Speed runs increase your [you guessed it] speed + will make all of your other workouts feel easier as you progress ; )

Below is how you’d break down the week 1 speed workout for the Fastest 5K Plan!

  • 10 Minute Warm Up: Just like your warm-up for tempo workouts! Slow, easy, + getting the body ready to do some work. 
  • 10×1 min speed, 1 min easy pace! 
    • 1 min at speed pace
    • 1 min easy pace [not walking – still jogging!]
    • **Repeat that 10 times!
  • 10 Minute Cool Down: Just like your cool-down for tempo workouts!

First 5K: All of your runs are similar — walk-run structures while building distance + building the time that you are running! Throughout the plan you’ll see your run times increasing + walk times decreasing as well the total distance covered increasing. The key is to stay positive + know that one bad day doesn’t mean that you can’t do this. You just have to keep putting in the work + trusting the process!

Fastest 5K/Beginner 10K/Advanced 10K: Find your weekly strength workouts in our Training Tools!

First 5K: Find your weekly strength workout in the Training Tools here!

Fastest 5K/Beginner 10K/Advanced 10K: Tuesday Tempo. Tempo runs are going to be longer intervals that have you pushing your pace but still feeling *in control*. This pace is faster than your goal half marathon pace + is going to help you with getting faster over longer distances.

Let’s break down the week 1 tempo workout in the Fastest 5K plan: 

  • 10-15 Minute Warm Up: Don’t even worry about pace, just get your body moving + warmed up! [walking, walk-run, easy pace is totally fine]. If your body doesn’t feel warmed up after 10 minutes, then go to 15 minutes : ) *Complete our Dynamic Warm-Up either before your warm up run or after it before you start your workout! 
  • 2x 5 Minutes at Tempo, 2:30 Min Easy Pace: You’ll be repeating 5 minutes at tempo pace 2 times, with a 2:30 minute easy pace jog in between. So this workout would look like this: 
    • 5 minutes at tempo pace
    • 2:30 min easy pace [nice easy jog]
    • 5 minutes at tempo pace
    • 2:30 min easy pace [nice easy jog]
  • 5-10 Minute Cool Down: Again – don’t worry about pace, this is to just cool the body down + to get home. If you need to walk, walk-run, etc. that’s totally fine! 

All Plans: Options. This is where you can really make the plan work for you! 

  • Rest Day: If you feel like a rest day – TAKE IT! Do the Runner SAM routine in the morning ++ spend the rest of the day doing some foam rolling, light yoga, etc. You can find great *yoga for runner* classes online, too ; ) 
  • Cross Training: Love biking? Go for a bike ride for the allotted time or take a spin class. Love swimming? Go for a swim! There are some awesome ways to cross-train + Friday can be a great cross-training day! 
  • Run: If you want to add a recovery run today – go for it! I recommend this for more experienced runners who are used to higher mileage! Take it easy tho — you have a long run the next day ; ) 

First 5K: All of your runs are similar — walk-run structures while building distance + building the time that you are running! Throughout the plan you’ll see your run times increasing + walk times decreasing as well the total distance covered increasing. The key is to stay positive + know that one bad day doesn’t mean that you can’t do this. You just have to keep putting in the work + trusting the process!

Fastest 5K/Beginner 10K/Advanced 10K: Long run. Long runs are building your mileage + getting you mentally ready for race day. A lot of our long runs are done at that long slow distance pace, while some of them will also work in periods at your goal 5K pace. The biggest muscle you’re building during long runs is your MIND — don’t forget, endurance running is a mental sport! Your long runs don’t have a designated “Warm Up” because they should start off pretty slow. You’ll notice your Long Slow Distance pace is a range of easy pace to slower than easy pace — this is intentional! Stay within the range [even if you feel GREAT]. 

That’s it! That’s week one in the plan + how to read it : ) Questions? Send them in our Slack channel! 

You might find that you love speed runs + are hitting those paces easily but hate long runs + are struggling with the long run pace, or vice versa — you hit your long run pace range easily but struggle with speed or tempo paces. It’s normal to gravitate towards one type of run over the others. Don’t stress about it + trust the training!

Track Your Training + Progress

We recommend taking an hour or so every Sunday to schedule your runs for the week. It’s OK if you have to change some of the runs around, but it will help a lot to know which workout you’re doing on which day of the week!

There are hundreds of free apps out there that will keep track of your runs + paces. A few of our favorites: Nike + Run Club, Map My Run, + Strava. Or, invest in a running watch [we recommend the Garmin Forerunner 45s or 235].

Create a copy of the training plan that you can edit yourself or keep a record of your runs in a journal.  In this spreadsheet or journal add: 

  • Your pace for the run // if you hit the paces you wanted to! This can be a good indicator of if you should move up or down a pace group. If you find yourself to be consistently hitting your paces — maybe it’s time to move up! If you find yourself inconsistently hitting your paces or feeling dead after every run — maybe you should drop back a pace group! Remember — running is meant to be fun, you shouldn’t be beating yourself up about how fast you’re going! 
  • Track your thoughts during runs! It’s good to note if you had positive or negative self-talk during the run, if you used a particular mantra, etc. 

Reviewing your training log after really tough runs to see all the progress you’ve made is a great way to stay motivated + consistent in your training. It’s also great to review before your race as a confidence boost of the tough work you’ve put in! See the image below for an example of logging your training!


Adjusting Your Plan – Make It Work For You

Great! Knowing that you’ll only have time for 3 runs per week or that your body thrives off of this amount of training is great. Our plan can easily adjust to this. You’ll simply complete: 

#1] Recovery run
#2] Tempo workout OR Speed workout — your choice!
#3] Long run 

That will be your 3 runs for the week! I recommend alternating between the Tempo Workout + Speed Workout ++ if you’re wanting to increase mileage, add in more of a Warm-Up or Cool Down on those days.

Drop back a pace group! Our bodies react to stress, training, the heat, + basically *everything* differently. If you’re struggling to hit your paces, you might be in the wrong pace group + it’s TOTALLY okay to drop back one or two. Running is meant to be fun — not torture!

First 5K: You can run 2 days in a row if your body is handling the runs OK! The plan is built with plenty of time between runs since your body will be acclimating to running, but if you feel like you don’t need as much rest between days, feel free to re-structure the plan so that you do runs back to back!

Fastest 5K: If you had to miss one of your scheduled runs, you can try to re-work your weekly schedule to accommodate that OR just let it go. I don’t recommend doing a speed or tempo run back to back with a long run the following day — it’s good to have 1 day of rest or recovery between speed/tempo + a long run.

This is totally normal — running puts a lot of stress on your body! Resting + recovering is just as important as running throughout your training. Foam rolling, icing, + making sure you are hydrating + fueling well will help your body recover! You might also notice that as you continue running your soreness starts to lessen with movement. Pay attention to your body + if you need to walk a little extra before starting your workout, do that in order to help yourself loosen up! 

Yes! You can include the walking mileage in your total mileage for the day. Time on your feet is time on your feet : )! *First 5K: Your plan includes walking! 

Just skip that week of training + get back to it when you get back. Don’t stress about missing a week of the plan.

Oh no! Life happens + everyone sometimes falls off track — especially during a plan as long as this. Missing 2 weeks isn’t going to kill you, but you’ll probably need to adjust your goals + ease back into the mileage to make sure that you don’t overdo it. Reach out to us in the slack group + we’ll help you with re-adjusting your plan [+ your goals]!

Stay home, stay in bed, + recover! Don’t try to push yourself + treat your sick week like a vacation week — get back after it when you feel better.

Go to a doctor + get some advice! Physical Therapists in some states are able to see you without a doctor’s note + can directly screen you ++ then prescribe a protocol to help you rebuild strength + get back to 100%!

Rain: As long as there is no thunder or lightning, you’re able to run outside in the rain. Some people find it very therapeutic to run in the rain! However, if it’s lightning or thunder — please stay indoors until the storm passes!

Snow/Ice: Watch your footing — if it’s too slippery, don’t do that run! Skip it + instead do a HIIT workout inside (if possible). Oftentimes, you’ll be surprised that you can run (slower!) in the snow. Shoes with a good grip (such as Nike Pegasus Trail shoes) can be great for running in slushy conditions too!

If you have access to a treadmill — feel free to use it whenever! Treadmills are great when it’s storming outside or extreme conditions (cold or heat). They also can make your speed + tempo workouts easier as you can set the pace on your treadmill!

This is awesome! The plan is fairly conservative in mileage — especially starting out, so don’t be afraid to add some mileage in to the plan. For example — if the first tempo workout [4x.5 with 2 min RI] goes by like a breeze for you, add in 2 more .5 repeats with the 2 min RI. That will get you an extra mile of work + will have you finish with more miles for the day. You can also always add miles to your recovery run days + it’s really easy to add miles in your warm-ups + cool downs. I’ll typically do a 1.5 mile to 2 mile warm up + cool down to increase my mileage for the day since I’m used to running higher mileage! You can also always focus on increasing your pace + going faster for your intervals (after all — this is all about running your fastest 5K!). 

If you have more questions on this — don’t hesitate to reach out. I want to make sure this plan works for you!


Our goal throughout training is to keep you strong + healthy… which means a heavy focus on strength work + our special Runner Strength + Mobility routine. Find all of our strength workouts, dynamic warm-up + cool down stretch routine on the Training Tools page

P.S. Want to take your recovery a step further? Check out our favorite recovery tools, tips, + tricks to try!


We’ve teamed up with Sports Dietician Lydia Nader from RUN Performance Nutrition to answer all of your questions on fuel + hydration throughout training. Lydia brings expertise from not only her background as an RD but she’s also an experienced + accomplished runner too!  

Want more training tips? Check out our CHAARG Run Club Blogs!