Running is great exercise and can be a lot of fun. If you don’t typically run, a jog around the block can seem impossible, but even a beginner can train to run a 5km race in just a few months.
Follow these tips for to achieve 5km success. Thinking of smashing out a 10km or even a half marathon? You'll likely find aspects of this article helpful also, so keep on reading.
Start off slowly
If you lead a sedentary lifestyle and rarely run, if at all, you aren't going to be able to run a 5km course next week. Start off slowly by walking every day for 30 minutes for four weeks. Then, for the next two weeks, run at least half of the time and walk the other half. Pretty soon, you'll be able to run the whole 30 minutes.
If you need a detailed plan on how much to exercise each day, find a schedule that includes a week-by-week plan that builds up gradually to get you ready to run a 5km race. Have a chat with a trainer about putting one together that suits your lifestyle and ability. When training, don't worry about your speed. Pace yourself and take walking breaks when necessary.
Team up with a friend
If you need the motivation to train and exercise, find a friend with a common goal. Pick a 5km race/event in your area that's a few months away, and train together to run in the race. Having a friend for motivation and accountability can be a big help for beginners.
Use a fitness tracker
Track your progress with the use of a fitness tracker such as Strava or even a smartwatch. Though a smartwatch isn't necessary, it can be extremely helpful to track your activity level. A smartwatch or fitness tracker can also work as a motivator, as well as keep you safe and healthy while running. The newest model in the Apple Watch series, for example, includes health and safety features like electrocardiogram (ECG) generation, fall detection, and emergency SOS.
Know the course
If possible, run the course (or at least map it out), so you can become familiar with the terrain, difficult areas, or places where you could get lost. Knowing the course will make you more confident on race day.
Don't forget to stretch
To avoid injury and increase flexibility, stretch your major muscle groups after each run to cool down. Focus on your hamstrings, quadriceps, back, groin, and hips.
Don't wear new shoes
Never wear a brand new pair of shoes on race day. Though you don't want trainers with treads that are thin, you want to wear comfortable running shoes that are broken in and don't cause blisters. If you buy new shoes weeks before the race, alternate wearing your old shoes with the new ones. Studies have shown that doing this can decrease the possibility of running-related injuries.
Don't eat weird stuff on race day
Usually run on an empty stomach? Don't go having a big breakfast on race day if you don't train on a big breakfast. The same thing applies for them fancy gels and supplements. If you want to use them on race day, train using them too. You don't want to introduce your body to new fuel sources before you race. Stick to what it is used to, your body will get confused otherwise, plus you don't want a crook tummy or any unexpected surprises while running.
Don't stress about it
As race day approaches, don't stress about how fast you want to run or other details. Your goal is to finish the race happy and healthy. Enlist a couple of friends to cheer you on. During the race, don't push yourself too hard in the beginning and take walking breaks for a minute or two throughout the race, if needed. Run the first two-thirds of the race at a comfortable pace. And then if you have a goal of a particular time to finish, pick up your pace in the last third.
In the months leading up to the 5km race, set milestones in your training. Each time you reach a goal, reward yourself with something you enjoy – maybe a massage, a book, fancy coffee, or a new outfit. Once you complete your goal, celebrate! You have worked towards achieving this so take the time to be proud of yourself and celebrate with friends.
5km might not seem like much, but it’s a big deal for a beginner to finish a 5km race. Celebrate your finish by going out with friends, taking a day off work, or doing something else you enjoy. Next thing you know, you’ll be training for a half-marathon.