I used to think only certain people could be runners. Racing a 5k or any distance for that matter was just unfathomable to me. I couldn’t run for more than a few minutes, how could I ever run for miles at a time?
But with determination and proper training, I became a runner who competes in races. And you can, too.
First, see your doctor and make sure it’s safe for you to start a running program. Then follow these steps to get to the finish line of your first 5k (3.1 miles) race:
- Choose your race. In many areas of the country, there’s a 5k every weekend during the springtime. Search www.runningintheusa.com for races in your area, and factor in your preferences to your race decision. Does the charm of a small race allure you? Or would the crowds of a popular race motivate you? Do you prefer the ease of a flat course or the challenge of rolling hills? You can learn about the race’s size, course, and other specifics on the race’s website.
- Be realistic. Maybe you ran a speedy 5k back in your old cross-country days, but don’t let old accomplishments get in the way of your current goals. Evaluate your fitness where you are today. A good goal for a first race is just to finish, and, of course, have fun. Don’t fret about your pace and take walk breaks if you need them.
- Grab a buddy. Run with a friend or a local running group. Chatting while running will make the miles fly by. What’s more, you’ll be more likely to stick with your training plan if you have someone counting on you to show up for workouts.
- Follow a sound training plan. A host of beginner 5k training plans are available online. Most of them will have you start with a run/ walk method. You may run for 2 minutes, walk for 5 minutes, and repeat for your whole workout. As you get in better shape, you’ll be able to run for longer stretches of time and take fewer walk breaks.
- Keep safety in mind. Smart training is the key to having a long running career. Days off from exercise are just as critical as time spent running. Take at least one day off per week and extra rest days as needed. Getting fitted for proper running shoes at a running specialty store will also help you stay injury-free. And be sure to drink plenty of water during training to stay well-hydrated.