Now What? What to do after you run a 5K


I know a lot of people who have had great success with the Couch to 5k program. It is structured, it is easy to understand, and it produces results. I think a lot of people love and complete this program, then fall off the face of the running earth so to say because they just don’t know what to do next. Well, you are in luck. I am going to offer you a few (of many) options for you after your initial 5k glorious runner’s high wears off.

Now What?

1.) Complete the couch to 10k program. Oh yes my friends. Lovers of the 5k program will be happy to know there is also a 10k version! Double the distance? Sure! why no right? You can do ANYTHING you set your mind to do!


2.) Work on your strength. I found after running a few races that while my legs were getting stronger, the rest of my body was well…squishy. I decided to start lifting weights 3-4 times a week and I can definitely tell a difference in the shape of my body, and I think my overall strength is helping my running, and helps prevent so many injuries. Not to mention, I like flexing. Just kidding…kind of. If you aren’t a member of a gym, free weights at home will do just fine, as will kettlebells.

3.) Work on your flexibility. The same constant running motion can do a number on your body, specifically your hips. I have very tight hips and found that adding yoga into my routine to stretch out and get more flexible has helped with post run soreness and the amount of injuries I tend to get. More yoga = less injuries for me. I still feel awkward and odd in class, but I have gotten over caring about how I look because I know it’s helping me! No I can’t even touch my toes.


4.) Stop running. This is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Some people just don’t like running and would rather participate in crossfit, yoga, or a team sport after completing their 5k. That’s ok! It’s not for everyone, so don’t let anyone make you feel bad if this is your choice. Just keep moving.

5.) Sign up for another 5k. While I am sure you are pleased with your time, most people’s next thought after finishing their race is “could I run that faster?” Why not! Sign up for another 5k and set an attainable time goal. You have already done it once so you know what to expect. The next one won’t be so scary. Cross my heart.  If a 5k is as far as you ever run, that is FINE! Keep running them (luckily there are usually plenty of local ones) and work on your speed and your form. Oh, and buy cute running outfits.


6.) Take the plunge and sign up for half marathon. A lot of people love the 5k and go straight to the half marathon distance (with training, of course!) if you loved your 5k and training and want more more more, then keep running! SLOWLY add more mileage every week, and after a few weeks decide if signing up for a half marathon is for you. I love signing up for a race because then I know I have to train and keep on running, I already paid for the race.


*Please note I do not recommend going from a 5k or 10 straight to a marathon without ever running a half. I know some people do it but I personally just don’t think it’s a good idea.

Whatever it is you do, don’t stop working out!! Keep moving no matter what your fitness passion or goal may be. Don’t forget to look back and smile at how far you have come! Remember, no matter how slow you run, you are lapping everyone on the couch.

QOTD: How did your running progression go? 5k to 10k? 5k to no more running? Share!

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  1. Great post! I know so many runners are faced with the “what now?” problem after goal races!

  2. I started with the couch to 5K program, then used the bridge to 10K to run a 10K a couple months later. After that, I stayed with 5Ks until I started training for the RnRNOLA half. I loved the Half distance and plan to do many more, starting with Mandeville. As of right now, I don’t think that I will ever attempt to tackle the full.

  3. Christine says:

    I really enjoyed this post and it’s exactly where I was a few months ago. I started the c25k last december and completed my first 5K in March. When the c25k ended, I knew I wanted to keep running so I started training for the 10K right away and ran my first 10K last weekend. I signed up for the RnR half in Chicago in July and have just started training for that. So far all the training has been app based, but I have a friend who is a head trainer for a charity program so I’ve signed up with the charity to train for the Chicago marathon in October. I feel like it’s a lot for one year, but manageable. I wouldn’t have tackled the full on my own, but with the support of a training program and people to run with I think I’ll be ok. I am a newer reader and really love your blog!

  4. most excellent post!!!

  5. I went from 5k to 5 mile to half marathon to marathon! There’s no looking back now! I still run all the distances and love them all.

    “Not to mention, I like flexing. Just kidding…kind of.” <— I do that to my mom all the time, I say "Hey, look at my muscles!" Her reaction is typically a roll eyes, and asking me if I do that to everyone. HAHA

  6. I went from a 5k to a 5 mile. Then to a half marathon and then to a full. I guess I progressed fairly normal. 🙂
    Great post!

  7. Great list… and, as always, great photos. You always looks so happy in your running pictures.

  8. I ran quite a few 5K races before moving forward to a half marathon. I have not run 5K’s 10K’s and half marathons. I don’t think I will ever move up to a full 🙂

  9. I ran quite a few 5K races before moving forward to a half marathon. I have now run 5K’s 10K’s and half marathons. I don’t think I will ever move up to a full 🙂

  10. Great post and such great ideas for people wanting to move forward after training for their first 5K. 🙂

  11. I had walked a few 5k’s before I actually started running. My first running race was a 1/2 marathon, though. Then I went to a full marathon. Then back to 1/2’s. I pretty much just stick to 1/2’s when I get the opportunity to actually do one though.

  12. Great post! I started running with the Couch to 5K as well, and I wasn’t sure what to do after I finished. I went on to do a 10K several months later, and then a half marathon.

  13. Great post! I have never run a race…but I’m thinking that I would really enjoy a 5k! I’m not much a distance person when it comes to running so I think that would be the perfect length for me 🙂

  14. I started with. The 5k and did many of them before moving to the 10k and then my first half this past February. Sitting here icing my knee in prep for my second on Sunday.

  15. Ive been running on a team since I was in middle school. My 1st 5k was when i was in h.s. I ran xc in college, but never ran more then a 5k till then. My freshmen ye I ran a a 8k, a 10k, my 1st half that yr. I ran my 1st Marathon when I was 25. I did think, “now what?” But, I always just decide to work on getting faster! 🙂 There’s always a race to run!!

  16. I love #4! I don’t get running because you feel like you “should”. There are plenty of other fitness options out there, no one should feel forced to run. (Says she who pretty much has to be forced to cross train…)

  17. I can’t touch my toes either… I totally need to work on that whole flexibility thing!

  18. I ran a couple of 5k races and then went for my first half. I ran that here in The Woodlands, Texas in March and then registered for the Disney Wine and Dine half in November. I have also registered for the 10 For Texas this fall (it will be a good training run to get ready for the half in November) and The Woodlands half again next spring. I think it really helps to have another race to train for…it keeps me from getting lazy!

  19. How do you train after a first 5K, if you always want to stick with 5K’s and not move up to training for a 10K?

    • keep doing 5k workouts but aim for faster time goals. Try throwing in some sprint workouts!

      • Thanks. Sorry to be so dense, but how many miles and/or minutes should I run now each day that I train? I’m assuming I should train every other day? Thanks.

  20. Great post Heather.
    I started my c25k journey in April this year (2014) … and succumbed to the terrible toos (too much too fast) and the result of which was a little bump on my knee took me out for 2 months.
    I started my journey again at the end of June (24th) … I was a 125 kg (275lb); pack a day smoker who couldn’t run 400 meters without gasping.
    I ran my first 5km without any walking on the 1st of September in 42:38. I now train four (4) days a week and run a 5km parkrun on Saturday mornings. Six (6) parkruns and six (6) PBs – now 35:58.
    While I have been happy with my progress … I have felt a kind of ‘blah’ with running lately. Maybe it was that I have achieved the 5 kms and now don’t have a goal. Running around aimlessly as it were.
    So this was a great post …
    PS Still a smoker but *desperately* trying to quit.

  21. Laura Morrison says:

    I have just finished the couch to 5K and ran my first 5k today during an organised run at my local park. It was tough in parts but I had so much fun and completed it without stopping – a big achievement considering I could hardly run for 3 minutes when I started!
    Thanks for the tip of doing the 10k podcast, I’ll definitely be giving that a go!

  22. I’m using the Zombie’s Run 5K Training program… very similar to Couch to 5K from what I understand. Tomorrow is my final workout of that 5K training? I signed up for a 5K Mud Run that occurs in about 7 weeks from now at the end of May, so I’m going to spend the next 7 weeks maintaining my 5k distance and improving my pace & endurance. But, I’m getting to that place where I”m thinking ‘Okay. What’s next?’ This article was very helpful and covered many of the things I’ve been rolling over in my head. Right now, I think my plan is to run a couple more 5Ks over the summer (non-Mud Runs), and I’m eyeing a 10K I want to run in November, so I’ll probably switch over to a 10K training program in the early fall/late summer.

    • The sentence reading “Tomorrow is my final workout of that 5K training!!” was supposed to have an exclamation point, not a question mark, but I don’t think I can edit my post. Opps. Should have proofread.

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