So You Want To Run A 5K...Now what?

How to prepare for a 5K. This blog gives helpful tips for all types of runners (from beginners to marathoners).

That is what I asked myself upon registering for my first ever race. After doing a quick Google search I realized I was not alone in my feelings of apprehension. 

What do I do to prepare for my first 5K?” “Good tips for running my first 5K,” and “How long do I need to prepare for my first 5K?” were just three of the many links that jumped out at me from behind my computer screen. The internet is a
fantastic tool, but it can be overwhelming…especially if you can’t complete the
5 minute warm-up jog before softball practice, but you are planning on running a

Now, two years later, I am a running addict who’s preparing to run my first half-marathon. Here are some helpful tips I learned en route to becoming a runner.

Where To Begin When You Don’t Know Where To Begin
The hardest thing about running is taking that first step. From a mental standpoint, being able to run more than a minute at a time seems an impossible hurdle to overcome. You won’t be able to run a full 3.1 miles your first time out and if you try you may end up injuring yourself. Building endurance is an uphill battle and it is difficult to know how to begin.

If you are a real beginner, try walking briskly for a few minutes, then running for a minute or two, and then walking again. Each time you go for a run, increase the amount of time you spend running. Make sure to allow yourself a rest day between runs so your body can recover properly. While this process is not speedy, it does help to avoid injury. Besides, endurance isn’t just developed overnight.

Once you are able to run 10-15 minutes, Runner's World has a great 5K training

WEEKTUESDAYTHURSDAYSATURDAY 1 1.5 miles 1.5 miles 2 miles 2 2 miles 2 miles 2.5 miles 3 2 miles 2.5 miles 3 miles 4 2.5 miles 2.5 miles 3 miles 5 2.5 miles 2 miles RACE 3.1 miles!

This five-week plan allows you to build endurance gradually while never running two days in a row. You should not, however, be completely inactive the other four days of the week. Use two of your non-running days to cross-train by walking, riding a bike or using the elliptical and rest for the remaining two days. As always, the key to a successful training plan is sticking to it.

I’m Stuck In A Rut
Every runner goes through a period where the motivation to run just isn’t there. You know you should run, but you can’t bring yourself to tie up your laces and head out the door. So what do you do in those situations?

I have three methods to help me climb out of the deep, dark hole caused by lack of motivation. One of my favorite ways to get out of a rut is to create a new running playlist. Music is a great motivator and a great distraction if you find yourself bored with your running routine.

Another fantastic trick for getting out of your rut is the 10-minute test. Before I start my run I tell myself I am going to run for 10 minutes and depending on how I feel, continue my run or walk home. Usually I feel great after 10 minutes and I complete my entire run. What holds most runners back is not a physical hurdle, but a mental one.  For me, the idea of going for a 90 minute run seems overwhelming, but if I say I am only running for 10 minutes I can get myself out the front door. Then, once I am in my rhythm I don’t want to stop. 

The best thing about the 10-minute test is you can adjust it to fit your needs. It can become the five-minute test, or the twenty minute test, depending on your own personal preference. 

My final strategy for getting out of a rut is to sign up for a race. Nothing motivates me more than the fear of not reaching the goals I set for myself. Presumably, if you are reading this you are already signed up for the MHA on the move 5K. Next time you don’t want to go for a run, just think about how that run will help you perform better on May 6.

What Should I Wear?
Of course the most important aspect of any running outfit is the shoes. If you go to a running specialty store like The Bronxville Running Company or The Rye Running Company, you can get a pair of shoes to fit your foot type and running form. Remember, running shoes should be replaced every 300 to 400 miles because running in worn-out shoes is a common cause of injury. Another important tip is to avoid cotton clothing. Cotton absorbs moisture and if you are running in the rain, or you sweat a lot, your clothes will weigh you down. Be sure to wear technical running apparel as the material is breathable and doesn’t lock in moisture. 

Do you have any helpful running tips or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you!

by Lori Zakalik, MHA intern

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Julia LaVerde April 26, 2012 at 03:35 PM
When I first started, I tried the Couch to 5k program (C25K) which gave you an interval training program--but even better, you can find podcasts which you can load onto your mp3 player which will let you know when to walk and when to run as you are listening to music. It was a great start and it wasn't long before I felt confident about running the distance!
Joe Garland April 27, 2012 at 02:39 AM
The C25K is pretty well regarding, although I've not done it myself. You can find it at http://www.c25k.com/ Another tip, many local running stores, including the two mentioned, have regular runs with people of differing abilities and experience. It's a good way to meet like-minded folks. And then consider joining a local running club. There are several in Westchester, all welcoming of all talent levels. Also, periodically try an out-and-back, i.e., you head out for 10 minutes and at 10 you head back. Over time you should see the turn-around point a bit farther, which is a great motivator. But don't be a slave to the watch. Finally, for off-road experiences, most people in Westchester are close to quality trails, State, County, or Local. You can find many in southern Westchester at WestchesterTrails.com


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