How to Train For Your First 8K – Training Plans & Advice

How to Train For Your First 8K

Looking to run an 8K race but don’t know how far the race is or how to train for one? Then you have come to the right place.

For starters – an 8K is 4.97 miles, to be precise.

Although 8K races aren’t as common as the classic 5Ks and 10Ks, it’s a good intermediate-distance event. Virtually anyone can train for and finish an 8K, even beginners with little running experience.

In today’s article, I’ll answer virtually all questions beginners have about 8K training, and that includes:

  • How far is an 8K
  • What’s a good 8K Finish Time?
  • Is It Hard to Run an 8K?
  • Is an 8K Good For Beginner Runners?
  • The Training Plan Explained
  • How Many Days a Week should you Run?
  • How To Start Training for An 8K?
  • And so much more

How Far is 8K?

So how many miles in an 8K?

The eight is short for eight kilometers.

Unless you’re living outside of the US, then you know what a kilometer is all about.

But for those not using the metric system, the term kilometers is a unit used to measure distance or length almost everywhere around the world, except in three countries– the U.S., Liberia, and Myanmar —the last three bastions of the imperial system.

Don’t ask me why.

One mile is the equivalent of 1.6 kilometers. Conversely, one kilometer equates to roughly 0.62 miles. So, by doing some simple math, an 8K is roughly 5 miles.

What’s a good 8K Finish Time?

Although what makes a good finish time varies from one runner to the next, a good range for most beginner runners for an 8K would be within 40 to 50 minutes.

As a beginner looking for a challenge, shooting for 40 minutes is a good milestone to beat.

Is It Hard to Run an 8K?

Again, there’s no black-or-white answer since each runner is different. If you’re a beginner, running 5 miles out of the gate might be out of the question without the right build-up.

Conversely, intermediate or advanced runners may run the distance within 30 minutes or less.

A beginner runner? Try this couch to 5K plan.

Want to to take things to the next level? Try The Couch to 10K plan.

Is an 8K Good For Complete Beginner Runners?

Although an 8K is relatively short compared to 10K and other longer events,  I’d still not recommend it for complete beginners, considering that it might be too much from the get-go.

In other words, don’t make it your first running race—unless you’ve been running for a while.

Instead, if you’re a complete beginner, start with 5K events, getting used to running competitively before upping the ante to 8Ks and beyond.

But if you’re confident in your running skill, as you can already run 5 miles nonstop, then be my guest.  Different runners, different strokes, and all that.

The worst thing that can happen is to get disappointed as your body falls short of running the entire course.

Additional Resource – Virtual Races Guide

The 8K Training Plan Explained

My 8K training plan below will give a recipe to follow for your weekly runs.

Remember that you don’t have to run on specific days, but, as a rule, avoid running two days in a row.

On non-running days, I’d recommend cross-training or resting. Cross-training refers to any non-running activity that you enjoy. These include:

Overall, my favorite cross-training exercise is strength training. At a minimum, hit the weight rooms twice per week, doing a series of compound exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, pull-ups, and planks.

These help build your total body strength and guard your body against common overuse injuries.

You should also consider adding stretching and foam rolling exercise to help your muscles recover and adjust to the increase in training.

How Many Days a Week should you Run?

Training for an 8K shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. It’s possible to train for the event by running no more than three times per week.

Want more challenges? Try running four days per week.

Of course, your training frequency depends on your current mileage and fitness level. But overall, increasing your weekly volume by more than 10 percent per week is not a good idea.

One of your weekly sessions should be of longer distance than the two others—that’s the long run, often run on weekends.

You might want to begin with roughly three or four miles, then increase by a half mile each week until you max up at around seven miles.

Are You a Beginner?

If this is your first time running, the run/walk method is the way to go, as it can help you add distance safely.

An example is to run for two minutes, walk for another two minutes, and repeat for 20 minutes.

As training progresses, aim to spend more time running while taking shorter breaks until you can run non-stop for 30 minutes.

My 8K beginner plan assumes that you can run nonstop for 10 to 15 minutes—or a mile. If you have zero running experience, you may want to start with your couch to 5K plan and train at a less aggressive pace.

Additional Resource  – Running for time Vs. distance

How To Start Training for An 8K?

Just like training for any other distance, preparing for an 8K requires a balance of running, good nutrition, and an overall healthy lifestyle.

Though it might seem rudimentary to you (especially since you’re here reading this article), you might be surprised that not many runners—especially beginners—follow those three simple principles.

Race Day Strategy

The golden rule of racing is to try nothing new on race day.

You’ll want to stick with the same strategy, shoes, clothing, and nutrition.

For example, if you’ve followed the run/walk method during your training, keep it up. Do what you believe you can do. Nothing more. Nothing less.

However, if you feel you can push it toward the last portion of the race, then feel free to pick up your pace.

The Training Plan

 My eight-week 8K training plan is designed for beginner runners who want to run an 8K race. The training plan also works for runners training for a 5-Mile race since 8K is roughly five miles.

Remember that my beginner 8K plan assumes you can run at least a mile. If this is out of the question, you might want to start with my couch to 5K plan here and train at a less challenging pace over two months.

Week – 1

Monday – Rest or Cross train

Tuesday – Easy run: 1.5 miles

Wednesday– Rest or Cross train

Thursday– Easy run: 2 miles

Friday– Rest or Cross train

Saturday– Easy run: 2 miles

Sunday – Rest

 

Week – 2

Monday – Rest or Cross train

Tuesday – Easy run: 2 miles

Wednesday– Rest or Cross train

Thursday– Easy run: 2 miles

Friday– Rest or Cross train

Saturday– Easy run: 3 miles

Sunday – Rest

 

Week – 3

Monday – Rest or Cross train

Tuesday – Easy run: 2.5 miles

Wednesday– Rest or Cross train

Thursday– Easy run: 2.5 miles

Friday– Rest or Cross train

Saturday– Easy run: 3 miles

Sunday – Rest

 

Week – 4

Monday – Rest or Cross train

Tuesday – Easy run: 2.5 miles

Wednesday– Rest or Cross train

Thursday– Easy run: 3 miles

Friday– Rest or Cross train

Saturday– Easy run: 4 miles

Sunday – Rest

 

Week – 5

Monday – Rest or Cross train

Tuesday – Easy run: 3 miles

Wednesday– Rest or Cross train

Thursday– Easy run: 3 miles

Friday– Rest or Cross train

Saturday– Easy run: 4 miles

Sunday – Rest

Additional Resource – Here’s how to create a running program

Week – 6

Monday – Rest or Cross train

Tuesday – Easy run: 3 miles

Wednesday– Rest or Cross train

Thursday– Easy run: 3 miles

Friday– Rest or Cross train

Saturday– Easy run: 5 miles

Sunday – Rest

 

Week – 7

Monday – Rest or Cross train

Tuesday – Easy run: 3 miles

Wednesday– Rest or Cross train

Thursday– Easy run: 3 miles

Friday– Rest or Cross train

Saturday– Easy run: 6 miles

Sunday – Rest

 

Week – 8

Monday – Rest or Cross train

Tuesday – Easy run: 4 miles

Wednesday– Rest or Cross train

Thursday– Easy run: 3 miles

Friday– Rest or Cross train

Saturday– Easy run: 2 miles

Sunday – Race Day

Additional Resource – Here’s how to run a 10K in one hour