You’ve been going to the gym for months. You’ve finally braved the treadmill and built up some endurance. The person that’s been running next to you has told you at the water fountain that they’re training for their sixth 5k run. You go home and Google how far 5k actually is. Three miles! Three miles doesn’t sound too hard. You’ve been running/walking up to a mile for the past month.
You start doing your research and find a couple of programs that say they can get you to your first 5k in a matter of weeks. You feel pumped and confident in your ability to complete this run. So, you sign up for your first 5k and tell yourself you’ll be a champion is six short weeks. How hard is it to actually run a 5k race, and how do you train for one?
Getting Started: How to Train for Your First 5k?
Make a plan and actually sign up for a race. If you’ve devoted your money to something you’re more likely to devote your time as well. The difference between training and working out is that with training, every workout is purposeful and brings you closer to completing your goal. Training takes time and dedication. You won’t be fast at first. You probably won’t even be able to run that long. Don’t let that detour you from completing this task you’ve set out to do. Champions aren’t born overnight.
Review your schedule and find time wherever you can and set it aside specifically for training. Before or after work if a great time for a workout, or bring extra clothes and start training midday. Running gets your metabolism pumping and gives you a boost of energy. It’s best not to run or exercise right before bed. Remember to stretch before running, especially if you’re a beginner. You can cause muscle cramps or shin splints if you don’t prep your body.
Start off with sprints of running during your walking routine, slowly building up your pace to a “run-walk,” eventually running 30 minutes altogether. This allows your mind, body, and spirit to all get on the same page. Focus more on going farther and not necessarily harder. Increase your distance before you increase your speed. Don’t run more than three days per week and alternate run days with rest days. This allows you to recover, adapt, and enjoy running.
Take Time to Recover and Train Comfortably
The key to completing a 5k run is to listen to your body. Did you know that the body actually grows stronger when it’s resting? This is why alternating between run days and rest days is so important. It allows your body to be stimulated by the exercise and then recover during your rest days. Many beginners make the newbie mistake of over-training and running too much too soon, causing energy like leg splints to arise. If you listen to your body, you can prevent not only body aches and fatigue but mental and physical fatigue as well.
Another good way to train comfortably is by taking the “talk test.” If you’re running at a comfortable pace you should be able to talk through running. If you’re gasping for air, however, that means you’re at a pace that you are not ready for. Adjust your pace accordingly, and when you can talk through running, you know you’re exactly where you need to be.
When you run too fast, for too long and too quickly, it can destroy your mental confidence when your body doesn’t respond the way you had planned. Simply put, the fun factor drops, you start to count the seconds until you’re finished, and your risk of injury goes up. Once your heart is out of it, it can be hard to keep your head in the game. The secret to finishing your 5k training is knowing you can run a little further each day, bringing you closer to completing your goal and being a champion in your own right!
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