A 5K race - that's 3.1 miles - may sound daunting. But with the right preparation, you can conquer this course in 5-10 weeks of training.
Whether you are a daily runner, a weekend warrior, or have never run a step, fitness goals can motivate you to keep moving. Here's how to cross the finish line by early summer (or winter if you're in the Southern Hemisphere!).
Gear up Right
Running is a relatively inexpensive sport. To train comfortably and safely, you'll need the following:
- Proper shoes. Go to a specialty running store for help picking the best pair for your feet. They should fit comfortably, leaving a half-inch to an inch between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.
- Orthotics. Formthotics are a great solution to add to a pair of running shoes to run more efficiently with better balance and greater cushioned support. These heat-moulded custom orthotics support your feet naturally and reduce muscle fatigue. The added bonus is that you can also get the most out of your running shoes!
- Socks that wick moisture. Unlike cotton socks, these keep your feet dry and reduce friction, protecting you from blisters.
- A good running surface. A route that's clear, smooth, even, and relatively soft will keep you striding injury-free. A rubber track or dirt path is best. Often times harder surfaces such as concrete sidewalks or concrete pavement are harder on your joints.
Now that you've got your gear, it's time to plan your training program. Search for one online that comes from a reliable source, starts slowly, and builds over time. Some recommended programs online are through Runners World, Active.com, and the New York Times. A beginning program recommendation would be to have walkers start by running slowly for two minutes and then walking for five minutes, for a total of about 20 minutes. Repeat this routine three to four times a week. Gradually increase your running segments until you're running for a full 20 to 30 minutes.
Take care not to increase your time or mileage by more than 10 percent per week. Running too much, too soon, increases your injury risk. You can vary your distance and pace during the week to keep things interesting. Just make sure you balance longer or harder runs with shorter, easier sessions. Also be sure to be patient and gradual during this journey to keep it enjoyable and not frustrating.
Doing 20 to 30 minutes of other aerobic exercise activites on the days you're not running can help you build your endurance. Leave at least one or two rest days per week so that your body has time to recover.
A Healthy Activity for the Whole Family
Because it require little equipment and can be adapted to all skill levels, running is the ideal physical activity for you to share with your young athletes. Like adults, youth should start slowly and increase gradually. With proper preparation, kids ages 5 and older may be able to join you for running of a mile or less. Chidren ages 8 to 12 may be ready for a more formal training program.
Before the big day of your first 5K arrives, run or drive along the course so that you're familiar with its twists and turns. Try these other tips to have your best race-day experience.
- Eat a light carbohydrate snack an hour and a half before your run. Drink plenty of water before and during the race.
- Don't go faster than your training pace. At your first race, your main goal is to cross the finish line.
- Keep moving once you reach the finish line. Walking through the corral at the finish line prevents a backup of people.