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Shorter distances naturally appeal to beginning runners, because they offer an attainable goal. In fact, using a simple plan, a beginning runner – with no previous running history – can successfully run a 5K after only eight weeks of training!
There are several reliable eight-week training plans available, including one from running legend Hal Higdon. And, for those pressed for time, one plan consists of only three 20 to 30-minute workouts per week.
Don't expect to set any world records using these plans, but they do offer a reliable way to experience the fun of racing in pretty short order.