Runner with smartwatch.
Breslavtsev Oleg/

For beginner runners, a good attainable first goal is to run a 5K. These are nice entry-level races with low stakes, but you’ll still feel accomplished for participating. A smartwatch is a great coach to help you prepare.

A 5K (3.1 miles) is easily the most common type of running event you’ll find. These races are great because there’s usually a good mix of experience levels. You’ll see everyone from seasoned medal-chasers to parents with strollers.

How to Get Started

So you’ve decided to run a 5K, now what? That’s the question that prevents a lot of people from getting started. Do you just buy some shoes and start running? That does technically work, but it’s not a great recipe for success.

The most popular way to train for a 5K is the “Couch to 5K” (C25K) program. This is a training regime specifically designed for people who have never run before. Over the course of nine weeks, you will get in shape to run for 30 minutes without stopping.

First 2 weeks of C25K
First two weeks of C25K.

The most important thing about the Couch to 5K program is it eases you into things. You’ll start off slow and have plenty of rest days. This is key for avoiding injuries and not getting discouraged. C25K is also focused on time rather than distance. That makes it just as easy to do on a treadmill as outside.

A Smartwatch Is Your Friend

There are a few ways you can use the Couch to 5K program. At the most basic level, you could print out the training schedule and use a simple timer while you run. We can do better than that, though. The easier you make it, the more likely you are to stick with it.

This was important to me when I started running, so I invested in a smartwatch. Thankfully, there are Couch to 5K apps available for the Apple WatchWear OS watches, Samsung watches, and Fitbit. Having an app on your wrist makes the training much, much easier.

C25K app on Apple Watch.

The watch app will take care of all the timers for you. All you need to do is select the week and day of the program you’re on. You’ll start with a five-minute warmup every time, then it will guide you through the run/walk intervals until you end with a five-minute cooldown walk.

The advantage of using a smartwatch and C25K companion app is you don’t have to keep track of anything yourself. You can focus on running and walking and let the app tell you when you need to start and stop.

RELATED: Should You Buy a Fitness Tracker, Running Watch, or Smartwatch?

Training for a 5K

Trail in the woods
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

After nine weeks, you’ll be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping. 30 minutes is a solid beginner time for a 5K, though there’s absolutely no shame in taking longer or needing to stop along the way.

After you’ve conquered your first 5K, you may be thinking “okay, now what?” Well, that depends on what you want to do. If you want to run farther, there are apps that can help you go from 5K to 10K.

If you want to improve your 5K time—or you’re ready to move past training programs—it’s time to graduate to a bonafide run tracking app. There are a lot of great running apps available these days. Paired with a smartwatch, you can track things like heart rate and VO2 Max, which are important metrics.

Running is a great activity to get into because there’s always a new goal you can set for yourself. Longer distances, faster times, better finishes in races, etc. Having a smartwatch on your wrist makes all of this training and tracking much more enjoyable.

The Best Smartwatches of 2023

Apple Watch Series 8
Best Smartwatch Overall
Apple Watch Series 8
Amazfit GTS 2 Mini
Best Budget Smartwatch
Amazfit GTS 2 Mini
Garmin Venu 2
Best Fitness Tracker
Garmin Venu 2
Fitbit Versa 3
Best Smartwatch for Battery Life
Fitbit Versa 3
TickTalk 4
Best Smartwatch for Kids
TickTalk 4
SAMSUNG Galaxy Watch 5
SAMSUNG Galaxy Watch 5
Apple Watch Series 8
Best Apple Smartwatch
Apple Watch Series 8
Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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