Running is arguably the most hated and most loved form of exercise. Ever. It requires no costly memberships, no extra equipment, and can be performed anywhere. Yet, despite the low maintenance and great health benefits, many runners will admit they have a passionate love/hate relationship with the sport of running. And maybe that’s a good thing because if it were easy to love, it wouldn’t challenge us to push our physical limits.
What is Popular Right Now?
Themed road races have risen to fame in the young adult world. Why run in a mundane, ordinary 5K when you can run in one while getting paint thrown at you, or while being chased by people in zombie costumes? Although many fun runs do not actually record times, or even have a start clock, they are great ice breakers for brand new runners looking for their inaugural race.
Themed race or not, running a 5K is a huge accomplishment for many people, and a great starting point for future fitness goals. You do not have to be a former cross country star, or even have a background in running to have a successful 5K experience.
Before You Begin
It is important to have the right mindset and the right equipment. Begin with a positive outlook and a positive attitude. Envision yourself achieving this new goal and enjoying the entire process, even the worst days. And there will be bad days, very bad days, but you are the determiner of whether they will break you or make you stronger.
It is equally important to have proper gear. Uncomfortable shoes or lack of support (ladies), will make for a miserable training program. Take a trip to your local sporting goods store and try on various shoes until you are completely satisfied with the feel, and of course, the look. Stop by the clothing section and buy yourself a few pieces of running attire. Surely it is a proven fact that a new half-zip pullover, or new pair of leggings can increase motivation.
Give Yourself Enough Time
If you have never ran a 5K before, or are new to running, it is a good idea to register for a race that allows at least two months of training beforehand. If you have already signed up for a race in the near future, or you think two months is too long to train, modify these tips to better fit your personal schedule and abilities.
Each training week should consist of six days, with one day of rest.
The first week is Welcome Week.
This week should focus on breaking through the mental walls and finding your stride. The most common mistake I see in brand new athletes, is their instinct to sprint everything. The words “jog”, “taper”, and “easy”, are lost on them. You cannot learn proper forms and techniques without slowing down and stretching out your stride. A jog should feel uncomfortable in the sense that you are, in fact, exercising and your heart rate is elevated, but you should be able to hold this pace for long periods of time. It will take a few runs to find the speed that works for you, so don’t become discouraged.
Start with a full five minute jog on Monday, and add 1 minute each day. By Saturday, you should be able to run ten minutes without a break.
The second week will focus on reaching one kilometre without stopping.
Using the same method as week one, start with a distance of .25 kilometres or .50 kilometres , and add a little bit each day. If you already achieved one mile during week one, that’s great! Use this week to improve your mile pace, and continue adding distance a little at a time.
Full weekly schedules will fluctuate, depending on how much training time you have delegated yourself. Continue with each week adding time and distance to your runs. Remember to take one day off each week for rest and recovery, as well as the day before the big race.
Finding a 5K to run will be easy, registering for the race will be easy, shopping for new gear will undoubtedly be easy, but crossing the finish line will require commitment, dedication, passion, and self-discipline. Before you begin, determine what your ultimate goals are. Implement these goals into every workout and every run, and you will be a skilled runner in no time!