Races like a 5k are a great way for you to structure goals around strength training, cardio, and nutrition for your clients. Even though I hate running I have run countless 5k races. Prior to becoming a personal trainer, it was always an easy way to motivate me and get me back on the workout wagon. Going into the new year it is likely that you will encounter many people that want to get into shape and need you to help them with goal setting. Here’s how to prepare a fitness client for their first race.

First Race Prep

Having a plan of action for your client will help aid in their success in completing a race. If they are new to fitness or have been a stranger to the gym then they can easily go off course. I have a “5 Weeks To A 5k” plan that I give to my clients at the start of a program. It is laid out with days that do cardio (tempo, distance, and speed), strength training and active recovery. I also like to include motivational words throughout as well as various tips to keep them going.

As a way to grow your business, offer either private or partner workouts for the strength training days of your program. This can be very comforting to those that are new and are unsure of correct form and technique. By keeping variety with the running & strength training schedule you will ensure that their workouts are part of an all inclusive, well-rounded program.


Sample Week

Monday – Distance Run (3 miles) – walk ½ mile, run/walk ½ mile x2, walk ½ mile

Tuesday – Strength Train – Improving muscle strength will help make you a stronger runner!

Wednesday – Rest Day – Let your muscles recover. Go for a walk, hike or take yoga 🙂

Thursday – Tempo Run (2 miles) Run at goal pace, walk to catch your breath. Walk last ½ mile.

Friday – Strength Train – Challenge yourself! Your hard work will pay off.

Saturday – Speed Run (2 miles) run/walk ½ mile, run fast ½ mile,recover and repeat fast run, run/walk ½ run

Sunday – Rest Day – Reflect on your hard work this week and game plan for the upcoming week.


As you take your new client under your wing you will want to ensure that they stay on track with their new program. This could be as simple as notating on a paper calendar. Many clients, including myself, enjoy a fitness tracker to not only log workout days, but to measure workout intensity with calories burned and sleep quality. Many of these trackers come with digital food logs so you can monitor your client’s diet and hold them accountable for eating clean. 


As a personal trainer, our main goal is to provide a program to our clients that is sustainable over the long haul. Many clients that I come across come to me hyper-motivated at the beginning only to overdo it by working out too much resulting in burnout or worse injury. It is important to remind your clients to recover between workouts by going for a walk, massage therapy, or yoga. Find some great yoga moves to share with your runners.

Female Stretch

What other techniques do you use when working with a newbie runner?

Christine Oakes

Christine Oakes is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Health Coach, NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist and 200RYT certified yoga instructor . She currently operates her own fitness company offering personal training, bootcamp and yoga classes in the Mountain View, CA area. Christine has had a love for being active since childhood and believes that true fitness comes from a balance of strength, nutrition, flexibility and a dose of fun. Learn more about Christine at www.fun2befit.org.