5K Training

Welcome to the DNA Day 5K training page! 

Whether the DNA Day 5K is your first time hitting the roads or you’re a seasoned racing veteran, this training page can be a source of workout ideas, motivation, and community. Visit this page weekly for training tips, motivational quotes, and a few funny anecdotes to keep you going!

Check out weekly community runs with Fleet Feet in Carrboro: Monday nights from the store, Tuesday night campus run from Ram’s Head Rec Center, and Wednesday night pub run in Carrboro.

Workout Ideas for the week of 5/5/2014: 

For the newbie: This week is for you! Don’t let yourself celebrate too early, but choose your favorite workout from this training series and go for it!

For the weekend warrior: Let those legs rest up a bit. Ease back on hard workouts, but keep your mileage consistent.

For the veteran: Taper. A wonderful word for every competitive runner. Decrease your weekly volume by ~10-15%, but keep at least 1 high intensity workout on the schedule.

Healthy living tip for the week:

Is running an ‘individual’ sport? Sure, you’re not depending on someone kicking the ball to you or setting up the perfect play. But there are many people behind the scenes who contribute to your running success. Whether its a significant other who has water ready when you get back, or an understanding parent who listens to all your running woes, we couldn’t keep training without these people. Show them they matter – either through a sincere thank you or a small token of appreciation. They won’t expect it, and making someone’s day always makes yours a bit better too 🙂


Workout Ideas for the week of 4/28/2014: 

For the newbie: The race is coming up! Let’s try our legs at some speed. Warm up by jogging easy for ~5 minutes. Find a flat area (grassy field, track, road) and run 5 strides. Think fast and smooth. Not quite as fast as sprinting, but you’re getting those legs moving. Cool down with another 5 minutes of easy jogging.

For the weekend warrior: Following an easy warm up, try doing 4-6 strides of ~200 meters in length. The track is a great place for this – run hard for half a lap, and then jog easy the other half. Finish with an easy cool down to flush our your legs.

For the veteran: Easy warm up, then 8-12 reps of 400m on the track with 1 minute walking or jogging rest in between. Consider breaking these into sets of 4, with a lap jog in between. Try these at your goal race pace.

Healthy living tip for the week:

Happy Monday everyone! Who’s feeling tired? Sleep is critical for productivity, good health, and not surprisingly, good running performance. Distance runners of the highest caliber sleep 10+ hours a night, sometimes on top of a nap during the day! Not all of us have that luxury of time, but we can all be a bit more conscientious about getting enough sleep. Make it a point this week to try getting 8 hours of sleep. Your body will thank you.



Workout Ideas for the week of 4/21/2014: 

For the newbie: This week is about slow and steady. Try running 3 miles continuous at an easy pace. Finish with 3 strides – faster running for about 100m.

For the weekend warrior: Bring that easy run up to 4-5 miles. Training with longer time on load will definitely make a difference come race day.

For the veteran: Easy run of up to 7 miles! Finish with 3-5 strides. Longer time on load and then strides at the end helps train the body to run efficiently.

Healthy living tip for the week:

Positive self-talk that we’ve been working on is great. But sometimes, a bit more incentive is needed to stick to our training plan. Rewards can be just the trick. While pizza, beer, and chocolate cake may seem like a good reward after a long run, such indulgence can be counter productive to training goals. Instead, create a rewards schedule for yourself with things such as a trip to the movies, a new running apparel purchase, a sports massage, or an afternoon spent reading a good book.

Thought for the week:

Runners are strong


Workout Ideas for the week of 4/7/2014: 

For the newbie: We’re introducing a new workout this week – hills! Not something to be dreaded, but rather a great way to build strength and stamina. Find a moderate size hill for this workout (you should be able to see the incline, but walk up it without getting out of breath). Do 3-4 repeats running up the hill, walking down for recovery. Try to increase your speed with each hill.

For the weekend warrior: Hills! Find a moderate size hill – run 5 repeats, either walking or jogging the downhill. Consistency is key – try to maintain the same pace for each hill repetition.

For the veteran: You may have found the trend – this week is about hills! Find a moderate size hill, ideally 100-300 meters long. After a 10 minute warmup, run 5-8 hill repeats continuously (jogging the downhills – be nice to those knees and quads). Focus on moving your arms forward and back (not across your body) and driving your knees up. Try to increase speed on each hill.

Healthy living tip for the week:

Positive self-talk: those people who say you should love yourself might be on to something. People have found that encouraging yourself during the day with positive comments can improve not only your mood, but also your performance and health. Instead of criticizing yourself for how you should be working harder, eating healthier, or running faster, compliment yourself on what you’re doing right. Find a positive mantra that you can repeat in your head while tackling those hills!

Thought for the week:

“You don’t always get what you wish for, you get what you work for ”


Workout Ideas for the week of 3/31/2014: 

For the newbie: Run the DNA Day 5K course! Not all at once, don’t worry. Try alternating walking and running, you decide when to alternate based on how you feel this week.

For the weekend warrior: Run the DNA Day 5K course! Simulate parts of the race: run the beginning hard, relax in the middle, and finish strong!

For the veteran: Run the DNA Day 5K course! Choose a time of day with minimal traffic. Warm up for 1 mile, then run the course as a time trial. Let’s see how many seconds we can shave off between now and race day!

Healthy living tip for the week: 

Sunshine. It’s happy, and warm, and invigorating. And potentially deadly. We’ve all heard the warnings about skin cancer. But sometimes we don’t think they apply to us, healthy runners. However, even moderate amounts of daily sun exposure can greatly increase your risk for skin cancer. The answer isn’t as depressing as taking to the treadmill or running at 11pm. Instead, just apply sunscreen before lacing up. Don’t like how it feels on your skin? Many daily moisturizers have SPF included and feel much more natural.

Thought for the week:

Not so crazy after all…



Workout Ideas for the week of 3/24/2014:

For the newbie: Cross-training of your choice! A key aspect of getting into running is to make sure you don’t burn out. Pick your favorite running alternative – the goal is just to be active. Popular choices include taking your dog on an extra long walk, swimming laps, biking (indoor or venture outside), that curious Zumba class at the gym, or use your creativity.

For the weekend warrior: Strong and steady: 30-40 minute run.

For the veteran: Long run! Wait, you say – I’m training for a 5K. Yes, but endurance is key, especially when you’ll be stressing your system with faster speeds. Run an easy pace for 20-30% longer than your typical weekday run.

Healthy living tip for the week: 

No one knows your body better than you. While a schedule might have you slated for a 4 mile run, the pain in your foot might be telling you to reconsider. It is a skill to make honest assessments between being tired or unmotivated and truly on the verge of injury. In cases of the first, your normal routine will likely help loosen tight muscles and leave you with a feeling of accomplishment. In the case of the latter, a day off running with gentle stretching is probably the best choice.

Thought for the week:

Just keep running…



Workout Ideas for the week of 2/11/2014:

For the newbie: We’re bumping it up this week! Walk 10 minutes. Jog for 5 minutes (any pace! just keep moving). And walk 10 minutes to cool down.

For the weekend warrior: Warm up jogging easy for 10 minutes. For 1 minute, pick it up until you starting breathing heavy. Alternate 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy for a total of 5 minutes hard. Nice easy cool down for 5 minutes.

For the veteran: On the day of your longest run, take 2 of the middle miles and run them faster, at a ‘steady state’ pace. This isn’t sprinting. This isn’t 5K pace. But it should be faster than the rest of your run.

Healthy living tip for the week:

Snack smart: Come mid-afternoon, it’s much easier to reach for that sugar-laden chocolate-covered granola bar than biting into an apple. Prepare bite-sized snacks the night before. Apple slices, celery sticks with peanut butter, or cottage cheese with crackers will leave you happier and healthier!

Thought for the week:

Running is kind of like coffee…


Workout Ideas for the week of 1/27/2014:

Dig out those running shoes. If they’re still in their wrap, break them out! If they’re about to fall apart, consider a trip to Fleet Feet for a new pair of kicks.  Once you’re laced up, give this a shot:

For the newbie: Get outside and walk for 5 minutes. Then alternate 1 minute jogging with 1 minute walking, until you’ve jogged a total of 5 minutes. Cool down with 5 minutes walking. You’re well on your way!

For the weekend warrior: 25 minute jogging, any pace, as long as you can finish the 25 minutes!

For the veteran: In the middle of your normal length/pace run, do two 5 minute tempo surges. To achieve the correct effort level, you should be able to string together a few words, but not recite the Gettysburg Address. Between the surges, take up to 5 minutes of jogging recovery.


Healthy living tip for the week:

Hydration is key! It’s especially hard to stay hydrated in the winter, when humidity is lower and the cold makes us chilly. Bring a bottle of water with you to school, work, or on errands. Whenever you’re hungry, use that as a cue to first take a sip of water and then eat.


Thought for the week:


If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Kristin: kks34@email.unc.edu

And please remember to always train within your physical limits.