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Training to Run a 5K? Here’s how to Get Prepared

A 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run is an excellent distance for those just starting to run or for people who want to keep their fitness level up. It might sound very far for a run, but it is easier than you think; you just need to take the first step.

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Before you start

There are some critical steps to take to ensure your success:

  • Know your health status – If you are older than 40 or have any major health issues, talk to your doctor first.
  • Suit up – Do not just use your old pair of athletic shoes even if you are walking, as these can be a shortcut to injury and discomfort. You need proper support and shock absorption to keep going. Also, get socks woven from technical sweat-wicking fabric and kiss blisters goodbye.
  • Keep moving – Try to get up and walk around every hour during the day. You will surprise yourself with how quickly your step count adds up.
  • Map it – Identify and select routes that visually appeal to you, are safe, and you can use in different weather conditions and times. This provides you with variety and options to eliminate excuses.
  • Know your rhythm – The aim is not to run fast but to run far. Select a pace that is comfortable and will allow you to keep going and build endurance. This will also help you avoid injury. Speed will follow as your fitness levels increase.
  • Adapt your plan – Splitting a 30-minute session into three 10-minute sessions throughout the day is acceptable when you are just starting, as shorter sessions can deliver the same benefits.
  • Keep a log book – Keeping a record of your mileage is a powerful motivator. Use your phone, step counter, GPS, or even just a notebook to record your progress.
  • Stay heart-smart – Measure your heart rate for 60 seconds while resting before you get up in the morning. As you get stronger, your heart rate will reduce.
  • Give it time – Expect delayed results in terms of muscle build and weight loss. These are benefits that take time to show.
  • Know your pain – Feeling some discomfort is normal when you start training. You should not be experiencing pain to the extent that it alters your stride. Should you feel pain, stop for a while; if it returns, see your doctor.


Getting started

Every person is different, and you need to start where it makes sense for you to do so. Pushing yourself too hard can cause permanent damage. Here are some steps you can use to make your personal plan:

Step 1 – Motivation

The more you exercise, the easier it becomes as you form habits. To achieve this, you need to:

  • Create a plan – when, where, with whom, and music to accompany
  • Create a routine – exercise sequence
  • Create a reward – do something you enjoy right after the exercise
  • Create enjoyment – include friends, log your distances

Step 2 – Start moving

Begin with a brisk walk or some time on an exercise bicycle or elliptical trainer. Walking is the building block for running, so get stepping until you are confident that you can walk briskly for 30 minutes.

Step 3 – Start training

Now you are ready to speed things up a little. We’ve put together a seven-week guideline to build you up to completing the 5-kilometer mark. The guideline includes walking, running, and resting to avoid injury and keep it fun. Remember to know your own pace. You can substitute the walking portions for running in water, cycling, or rowing.

Week 1

  • 30 minutes of running for 15 seconds and walking for 45 seconds – Monday, Wednesday
  • 30 minutes of walking only – Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday
  • Rest – Friday
  • 3 miles or 4.8 kilometers of running for 15 seconds and walking for 45 seconds – Saturday

Week 2

  • 30 minutes of running for 15 seconds and walking for 45 seconds – Monday, Wednesday
  • 30 minutes of walking only – Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday
  • Rest – Friday
  • 3.5 miles or 5.6 kilometers of running for 15 seconds and walking for 45 seconds – Saturday

Week 3

  • 30 minutes of running for 20 seconds and walking for 40 seconds – Monday, Wednesday
  • 30 minutes of walking only – Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday
  • Rest – Friday
  • 2 miles or 3.2 kilometers of running for 20 seconds and walking for 40 seconds – Saturday

Week 4

  • 30 minutes of running for 20 seconds and walking for 40 seconds – Monday, Wednesday
  • 30 minutes of walking only – Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday
  • Rest – Friday
  • 4 miles or 6.4 kilometers of running for 20 seconds and walking for 40 seconds – Saturday

Week 5

  • 30 minutes of running for 25 seconds and walking for 35 seconds – Monday, Wednesday
  • 30 minutes of walking only – Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday
  • Rest – Friday
  • 2 miles or 3.2 kilometers of running for 25 seconds and walking for 35 seconds – Saturday

Week 6

  • 30 minutes of running for 25 seconds and walking for 35 seconds – Monday, Wednesday
  • 30 minutes of walking only – Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday
  • Rest – Friday
  • 4.5 miles or 7.2 kilometers of running for 25 seconds and walking for 35 seconds – Saturday

Week 7

  • 30 minutes of running for 30 seconds and walking for 30 seconds – Monday, Wednesday
  • 30 minutes of walking only – Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday
  • Rest – Friday
  • Race Day — 3.1 miles or 5 kilometers – Saturday – enter into a friendly race or park run. Remember not to push yourself beyond your limits and don’t worry if you’re in the back of the pack. This is your journey on your terms.

After Week 7, keep on reducing your walking time by 5 seconds every week until you are only running.

Conclusion

Exercise coupled with the correct diet and sleep leads to health and longevity. Take your first step and you can finish your first 5K running all the way. Finish your first race with a smile on your face – the choice is yours.

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