Last Updated: May 03, 2017
By: Taira Jordan
You may not consider yourself a runner (and can’t remember the last time you ran for 30 minutes straight) but you have signed up for a 5K and are ready to train to run for the full 3.1 miles. As intimidating as 3.1 miles might seem to a non-runner, the 5K is a great distance for a beginner as it can be trained for in about two months. And if you train properly, the 5K can be a gateway to longer distance runs, including the 10K, Half Marathon and even (with much more training) the Marathon.
As workouts are goal orientated when training compared to simply exercising for your physical health, developing a plan to reach your 3.1 mile run goal is key. Start off each workout with a 5 minute walk to warm up your body and cool down at the end of each workout with a 5 minute walk. After warming up, begin with a 30 second to 1 minute run followed by at least double time power walking at a quick pace. You can progress with each training session by adding more running time and spending less time walking. The key is to focus on going farther, not harder and doing the “talk test” will prevent you from going too fast too soon. Put simply, if you can talk while you run, you are going the correct pace. Running too hard too soon lessens enjoyment and can lead to cramps and injury.
For any good training program, rest and recovery are very important. Aim to do no more than 3 runs per week and alternate your running days with cross-training workouts such as swimming, biking or yoga. By allowing yourself to rest, your body gets stronger and you can better adapt to your increasing mileage, to better prevent injuries.
“ The most essential item, running shoes, should be replaced every 350-500 miles to prevent unnecessary stress and the risk of possible injury to your knees, back and feet. ”
It may seem minor but what you eat and drink before, during and after a training run or race can have a big impact on your body and is important in preventing discomfort and aiding in recovery. An hour or so before your run, eat a light meal or snack that combines carbohydrates with minimal protein. This light meal is both easy to digest and provides an essential carbohydrate boost. You may have heard of runners maximizing their carbohydrate intake or carbo-loading before an event but this strategy is recommended for endurance events lasting longer than 90 minutes and not necessary for a 5K. In addition to food, make sure that you hydrate by drinking enough fluids before, during and after your run. Water, fruit juice and milk are ideal for hydration with the latter two, fruit juice and milk, providing needed carbohydrates and electrolytes, which are essential for energy and post-run recovery.
Consistency is key when training so once you have developed your training schedule, make your best effort to follow it. Discover a favorite nature trail or develop a running route through your neighborhood that you will look forward to running and challenge yourself to run a little further each time. If the weather outside is cold and unpleasant, do your run on your home treadmill or at the gym.
Like any sport, having the right running gear will help you get the most out of your run. The most essential item, running shoes, should be replaced every 350-500 miles to prevent unnecessary stress and the risk of possible injury to your knees, back and feet. A pair of moisture wicking socks will keep your feet feeling comfortable and help prevent annoying and painful blisters. With many different models with various features available, sport watches or activity trackers will help you keep on pace by providing a variety of functions including active time, GPS distance, calorie counter or heart rate.