Are you new to running and want to run your first 5k? I can give you some helpful tips and motivation to get you started.
First of all, Why even run a 5k?
Running is one of, if not the best way, to burn calories, strengthen your heart and lungs, and de-stress.
Running a 5k (3.1 miles) gives you a goal to work towards, and without goals we would go nowhere in life. A 5k is a perfect place to start.
It is a doable distance, but not without challenge and a feeling of accomplishment. So let’s get started!
What do you need to start running?
- Shoes : Seems obvious, but having the right shoes is the number one priority to start a running program. The best plan is to go to a local running shop and be fitted for shoes. They can test your gait and suggest several brands to try. You don’t have to spend a fortune on shoes, if the ones that feel the most comfortable happen to be the least expensive, consider yourself lucky. (Get some socks while you are there, or go to Target. Avoid cotton. Look for seamless and moisture wicking for the most comfort)
- Shorts : Or capri running pants if you are not comfortable in shorts. Make sure whatever you choose does not rub anywhere. Again, you don’t have to spend a fortune on shorts. Look for sales (Dick’s Sporting Goods has good sales) and try on several brands. Comfort is key.
- Bra : Important if you are well endowed (spend the money for a good one), not such a big deal if you’re not. I get mine at Target. Champion sports bras always get great reviews in Runner’s World magazine.
Of course there are things you will want and “need” (hat, sunglasses, watch…the list goes on) but the list above is just to get you started. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on specialty items then decide running is not for you.
Depending on your baseline fitness level your starting point will vary. Another words if you work-out regularly but want to add running a 5k to your fitness program, you might be able to run/walk 3 miles right off the bat. If you have never walked into a gym or never even heard of a 5k then you will start off easier.
***Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you are overweight, over 40 or have any medical problems***
Click here for a 5k training plan
A few things to keep in mind:
- Be patient. Most people new to running try to do too much too soon and end up injured and/or frustrated.
- Walking is okay. I used to think walking was weakness but I have read numerous articles about how walking for 30 – 60 seconds refreshes you enough to run your race with a better time.
- Be flexible. Training schedules aren’t written in stone. Life is busy and things come up. No worries, the next rest day becomes a run day. Be sure to always get your long run in though, especially when it gets close to race day.
- Every run is different. Don’t worry about your next run based on a recent bad one. Some runs just suck. But others feel great! Besides a bad run is (almost) always better than no run.
- You will be sore, tired, hungry, did I say sore? Stretch after a run, (studies show stretching before does not help and can possibly make you more prone to injury). Get enough sleep, helps muscle recovery. Sometimes when I’m over tired I take an Advil PM to make sure I sleep. Make sure you eat within 30 – 45 mins after a run to help muscles rebuild. You should eat 1 gram protein to 3 grams carbs. Try not to overeat (easy to do), a bowl of cereal is enough some days. The average person burn 100 calories per mile. Check out my post Fuel: Before, During and After a Run.
A few things to stay motivated:
- Register for a race. Seems obvious considering this is a post about running a 5k, but continue to register for races. It makes you accountable, and gives you a goal.
- Find a running buddy. Again, it’s about accountability. You’ll be less likely to flake if you committed with a friend.
- Keep a journal or log. Sometimes it helps to see it in black and white what you have accomplished. Write down miles, what you eat before and after, how you felt when finished, etc. It will help you see what works for you and what doesn’t.
- Know that it gets easier. It may not ever be easy, but you won’t feel like you are dying.
Just run! It’s not rocket science. Don’t worry about breathing, how many steps per minute, or how fast your heart is beating (unless it’s crazy fast or you have chest pain, then stop :-)).
I always say I run because I’m not coordinated enough to do anything else. It’s just one foot in front of the other. 😉
Thanks for reading. I hope this was helpful.