Training for a 5k Run – A Beginner’s Guide

Jan
24
2014
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The 5k distance is a common entry race

So you’re ready to begin training for a 5k run?  The 5k distance is a common entry race; it is 3.1 miles.  If you’re starting training from sitting on the couch, follow these simple tips to getting ready for your first race.

1.     Sign up for a race before you undergo training for a 5k run.

Having a date in mind will help you stay on your training schedule

Having a date in mind will help you stay on your training schedule

Having a date in mind will help you stay on your training schedule.  It gives you a goal to keep in mind while you’re training for a 5k run.  Make sure to pick a race that is about 2 months out so you have enough time to prepare.

2.     Get the right gear if you will undergo training for a 5k run.

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With the right gear will help you train better

If you’re just starting to run you need some good running shoes; newer shoes help absorb shock on your joints and bones.  Older shoes get compressed and they no longer absorb shock.  If you get new shoes make sure to wear them and break them in before race day.  Also, make sure you get the right clothes; you don’t want to wear something that you have to keep adjusting or that fits poorly.

3.     Start slow

If you’re training for a 5k run and you don’t already exercise regularly, don’t start with a mile long run.  You will probably get discouraged.  Your body will rebel against you in the form of sore angry muscles!  You need to build up the strength in your muscles so they can support your bones and joints.  Some sore is good, but you don’t want crippling pain that puts you out of commission for a week.

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It is not advisable to push yourself to the limit at the start of training

You also must gradually build the endurance of your heart when you are training for a 5k run; it is a muscle too and it needs to be  slowly strengthened.  Lung function also improves with time and a gradual increase in exertion. Make sure you these itesm  in check:

Nutrition

It is important to eat right all the time, but especially if you are training for a 5k run or any other race.  The first and most obvious reason is so that you feel good and you have the energy to run.  Try to avoid processed foods and increase complex carbohydrates so that you have energy to burn.  Complex carbs give you sustained energy that helps you feel energized so you stick to your training schedule.  Foods that are rich in complex carbs are sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grains, beans, quinoa, and many more!  Basically, avoid white carbohydrates:  refined flour, pasta, white bread … Don’t forget the protein!  Every night after your training, make sure to eat a high protein dinner.  Muscles get tiny tears during a workout and protein helps them rebuild stronger.

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Don’t forget to eat a high protein dinner to help heal muscle tears

Drink plenty of water.  You should already be drinking 8 glasses of water a day; but if you are sweating a lot you should drink more.  Sports drinks contain electrolytes that are lost through excessive sweating, but many contain too much sugar.  Coconut water is a natural alternative to sports drinks and contains potassium and magnesium.

Develop a Jogging Plan

There are many training plans available online; even apps for your phone.  Some will send you emails reminding you of what to do every day and others even remind you of what you should be eating.  If you are currently sedentary, you should select a jogging plan that starts with walking. Any jogging plan should be supplemented with strength training.  Of course, if you are training for a 5k run, your main focus will be your legs and butt; but don’t ignore other muscle groups as abs and arms also contribute to running speed and endurance. Don’t forget to stretch before and after your workout.  Stretching loosens up your muscles and lets them know they’re going to be used.  It brings oxygen to your muscles also, helping them to function better.  Stretching after a workout relaxes muscles so they don’t recoil after a workout and become tight.

Get enough rest when training for a 5k run

Almost as important the workout itself when you’re training for a 5k run or just getting involved in an exercise program!  Rest gives your tired muscles a chance to relax and rebuild.  Plan rest days in between running or strength training days.

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You will risk injuring yourself if you run hard everyday

Unsure that you’ll be able to stick to a plan?  Train with a friend!  You will have some company and friendly competition.  Plus, training with a friend keeps you both accountable.  If one of you loses motivation, the other one is there to keep you on track. Most running websites and magazines suggest training for a 5k run over 6-8 weeks.  This gives you time to gradually increase your fitness level.  Training for a 5k run is not easy, but it can be fun; and crossing the finish line will be a great reward for your hard work.

Comments

  1. Good article for a first time 5K’er. The only thing I’ll disagree with is the part about gear.

    (I built up from not running at all to running 10K’s, then marathons, then 100-mile ultra marathons in a 4 year stretch. I only mention that to show some credibility in what I say.)

    Running shoes are highly overrated, and in fact can be detrimental. The shock protection in shoes over long distances actually has a negative effect because it allows runners to use a poor heal-to-toe landing technique, which actually hurts most people because it drives the “shock” into you knees. Over time, this will damage your knees. It’s actually better to have extremely thin shoes (barefoot, Vibram Five Fingers, or other similar shoes) because it forces you to land on the front of your foot. The arch of your foot then handles the shock like it was made to do. The other benefit of landing on the front of your foot is that your stride is shorter and more natural and on rough terrains the chances of ankle sprains is greatly reduced. You can find out more at:

    http://www.chrismcdougall.com/barefoot.html

    Or read his book, “Born To Run” if you’re really into running. It’s a great book.

    The rest of the gear gets important at longer distances to avoid chafing, blisters, etc – but it’s generally not an issue with a 5K. It certainly won’t hurt, but when I was running a lot, I used to see people spend hundreds of dollars on gear for shorter distances, then decide it’s not for them. Meanwhile I was running for hours in free t-shirts, cheap cotton socks, and shoes with 800 miles on them.

    Just my opinion, but I think the running world has been oversold by marketing campaigns just like so many other areas.

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