No matter your starting point, the goal is the same, run a 5k. When I ran my first 5k, after a running hiatus of 4 years, I had no goal but to finish. I didn't have a goal time or any thoughts of placing. I just signed up and ran. You can read about that race here. I became very addicted to races and made a goal to run one race a month for the year 2012.
So how did I go from not running to finishing a 5k in under 30 minutes. CARDIO. CARDIO. CARDIO. I started with the elliptical. I worked up to higher resistances and longer workouts. Really anything over an hour is a waste and you want to put in the most effort at the beginning of your workout. I like picking 'Rolling Hills' or anything that keeps the incline and resistance changing. Once I could workout pretty easily on an elliptical without getting winded I moved over to a treadmill. I was currently living in a hotel for work and running outside at night wasn't an option.
Here was my treadmill workout, the first time I tried I couldn't finish it. Give it about two days or adjust the incline.
HIIT Workout - Treadmill
I do this when I want to work my legs, but also burn a lot of calories.
No Incline, 5 min. , 3.5 mph
8% Incline, 2 min. , 6.0 mph
15% Incline, 3 min. , 4.0 mph
6% Incline, 2 min. , 6.5 mph
12% Incline, 3 min. , 4.0 mph
4% Incline, 2 min. , 7.0 mph
9% Incline, 3 min. , 4.0 mph
2% Incline, 2 min. , 7.5 mph
6% Incline, 3 min. , 4.0 mph
Finish with 9 min walk going from 6%-15% with each minute.
Cool Down 3 min @ 3.5 mph no incline.
Takes about 38 minutes and burns about 400 calories or more.
As long as you are doing cardio at least 4x a week for 30 minutes you can run a 5k. Just don't cheat yourself doing light cardio, you want to be sweating. TIP: If your stomach feels cold to the touch while you are working out, you are working hard. It also means those ab muscles are burning fat.
The BEST way to get ready for a 5k, is to sign up for one. Nothing motivates you like investing $20 and your pride. Go for it and try something out of your comfort zone. You can use this website to find races near you.