I admit it, I’m not the best person to ask for advice for training for a 5k run. I only started running seven weeks ago, and I’ve only run one 5k. But it’s this inexperience that makes me exactly the right person to share tips to train for a 5k, because I’m still so new, and most tips aren’t for beginners. Here are my tips to train for a 5k run, just for us beginners.
1. Consult Your Doc
Before you lace up your trainers for your first run, check with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough. Tell your doctor of your plans to train for a 5k, and tell him or her about any joint or muscle pain. Your doctor will test your heart, and address any pain concerns you have… they might even give you some specific training tips!
2. Fuel the Machine
When I first started running, I made the mistake of running on an empty stomach. The side cramps were intense, and I ran out of energy so fast! I always eat a banana half an hour before my morning run, and after, I eat a high-fiber breakfast… before race day, I’ll eat whole grains for dinner, then a banana before the run. The banana helps alleviate cramps (they’re full of potassium), and the whole grains give me long-lasting energy.
3. Get the Right Gear
I can’t stress how important the right shoes are when you’re training for a 5k run. The wrong shoes can cause blisters, knee pain, back pain, shin splints, and so much more. To get a good fit, and the exact right shoe for you, visit a sporting goods store and get assistance from one of the sales people specifically trained for this.
4. Pace is Key
A 5k is a distance run, so sprinting away from the start line will only wear you out… and chances are, you won’t be able to finish the race. I learned as I was training for my first 5k that pace is everything. Find a pace that feels right to you, and keep it. I do a mile in a little more than 11 minutes. Yes, it’s slow… but I can finish a 5k at that pace. Want to go faster? Run more. As your body adapts to running, you’ll go a little faster.
5. Make a Schedule
People I know who run marathons tell me all the time about running schedules before races, and if you’re running a marathon I’m sure it’s important to taper. But I’ve found that training for a 5k run works best for me if I run every day, or as close as I can to it. I usually run a mile and a half each day, but some people run more, and some people run less. You just have to find a schedule that’s right for you.
6. Find the Right Race
I run best in the mornings, so when I’m looking for a 5k race to run, I look at the times… if it’s an evening race, I’ll pass. If you run better at night, then you’ll want to find a race at night. If you run better in urban settings, then choose a street race. If you hate hills, avoid running a trail race, at least at first. And once you’ve found the right race, don’t forget to register early! You’d hate to miss out on a race because you waited too long to register, and the race was full. So, for many reasons, one of my best tips to train for a 5k run is to find the right race, and register for it.
Before I knew about breathing, I could barely run a quarter of a mile without stopping. The day I learned about controlling my breathing, I ran a mile. Quite an improvement! Everyone’s breathing pattern is different, but the one I use is in-in-in, pause, out-out-out. I run in step with my breathing, which means I land on my right foot, then my left foot, after each breath. Breathing on a pattern will help clear your mind of everything else but the run.
8. Use an App
I didn’t use an app to train for my first 5k, but I know several people who have, and they swear by it. They all used the same free couch-to-5k app, and they all finished their first races less than two months after they started using the app. Amazing!
I’ve already signed up for my second 5k race, and I can’t wait to run! I’ve been running almost every day, and I hope I never stop. Hopefully, these tips will help you get running and train for your first 5k, too! Which of these 5k training tips do you think is the most helpful? If you’re a runner, do you have any other tips to share? Please do!
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