I know what you’re thinking: between class, work, boyfriends/girlfriends, and going out, there’s not really any time in your schedule for training to run a 5k or some other race. And hey, you may be right—you know yourself way better than I know you. But if you think you can find a spare 30 minutes on most days and you have a hankering to rid yourself of that muffin top or boost your health in general, read on.
I ran a half marathon a couple of weeks ago. Before you judge and call me a hardcore athlete, consider these facts: I wear Coke-bottle glasses and have the grace of a newborn ostrich. I like to sit inside all day and sip coffee and write articles. The idea of walking across town for take-out tacos makes me seriously doubt whether the walking part is worth the tacos part.
So if I can run a half marathon (13.1 miles), you can definitely run a 5k (3.1 miles).
There are so many great reasons to challenge yourself to a 5k race (or any run, for that matter). Obviously, it’s a great way to get back into shape. It’s also a fantastic way to bond with friends, make new friends, feel accomplished and give back to people who really need it. Lots of 5ks are organized for charity, so you can feel good about your soul and your body if you run one. They also happen to be really fun. For real!
I urge everyone to try a 5k run at least once and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
If you don’t think you have what it takes, you’re wrong. Just follow some basic training tips and you’ll be crossing that finish line in no time.
If you’ve never run before . . .
• Start practicing at least a month before the race, and preferably longer. It can take a while for your body to get accustomed to a running routine, and you don’t want to overstress it.
• Do NOT run the full distance right away.
• Don’t push yourself. Build gradually! It’s better for you to ease into a regular, comfortable routine than to exert yourself every so often.
• Stretch extensively before and after you run.
• Run three or four days a week, and never more than two days in a row. Give yourself time to rest.
• Start by running half a mile. Go at your own pace, even if it’s practically walking pace.
• Go just a little farther each time you run. Build up to going two and a half or three full miles. If you can do that distance, even just a couple of times, you can do the full 5k.
• Stay hydrated all the time, even on days when you don’t run. Drink at least twice as much water as you do now.
If you’ve occasionally run before . . .
• Don’t overestimate or underestimate your abilities. Do a practice run and see how it feels. Stop if you get too tired.
• If you do any training runs that are longer than four miles, carry water with you.
• Don’t slack on your stretches.
• Treat yourself to a decent pair of shoes. Trust me, they’re worth it.
• If you get a cramp while you’re running, it’s OK to walk rather than run it out.
• Add a little bit of weight training to your routine. Lots of studies show that it’s beneficial and can improve endurance.
• Try different routines. Run alone one day, with a friend the next, and then with music.
• Switch up your routes. It’s way more interesting (and a better training method) to run a bunch of different paths instead of the same path every time.
Above all, don’t feel intimidated! A 5k is a great way to ease into running. Just remember: you can do it.
Are you ready to work those legs? Find a race nearby and start training!