Ladies and gentlemen, summer 5k season is upon us! If you've never run in a 5k race, but have thought about it...what are you waiting for? 5ks are fun, you can do them with friends, and often times you get a medal! And who doesn't want a medal? The answer is no one. So, just how do you go about training for your first 5k?
Here are the basics:
Pick a race. Most cities and small towns have at least one or two local races a year, or you can always sign up for a big one (like Rock 'n' Roll, if you don't mind the big price tag.) Then, SIGN UP for that race! It's a lot easier to back out when you haven't already paid the registration fee.
Train. Once you're locked in, pick a training plan that's right for you. How do you know if a plan is right for you? Well, first you have to be honest with yourself about where you are right now. Never run before? Pick a walking plan (yes, walking is great, too!) If you've never run before but would like to run, try a run/walk plan. You'll run for intervals and then walk for your recovery periods. If you've got some experience running, pick a run-only plan. Either way, find one that is manageable for you, and one you know you'll stick to. Often times they are labeled for beginners (ain't no shame in your game)!
Execute. So, you've picked your race and your plan...now you've got to execute! Start off nice and slow and easy, and give yourself more time to build up a base of easy mileage beforehand if you need to. Your goal for your first 5k should just be to finish strong. Save the time goals for next time! And if you don't like running alone, enlist a friend to train and run or walk the race with you! Everything is better with a friend, even running! It may even help you bond with a new pal.
Fuel Your Body
As for nutrition, just make sure you are fueling your body properly before and after your runs. A small meal or snack with simple carbohydrates (think bananas or an English muffin with a bit of peanut butter) will fuel your training runs. And recover with a meal that has both carbohydrates and some protein thrown in. Just don't overdo it. Training for a race can leave you hungry and eating more, which can cause weight gain. If weight is an issue for you, make sure to keep the calories under control.
Last but not least...HAVE FUN!! Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Just get to the starting line, and then the finish line healthy and strong, and I promise you there will be more 5ks in your future. And, who knows what may come after that... ;)
Keep in mind that at 360 Health + Fitness we provide training plans and coaching for all distances and all levels! Ask us anytime for more information on setting up a running plan!