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How to run your first 5k

Updated on May 4, 2009

So you want to go from a casual runner to a racer. Good for you. It doesn’t matter what age you are. You’ve made the choice to compete with similar individuals to test yourself and maybe learn a little something about yourself at the same time.

If you have doubts about running in a race try standing along the sidelines of any 5K to marathon and observe the wide range of men and women who participate. You'll see teenagers and grandmothers and grandfathers, men and women in all shapes and sizes.

By choosing a 5k race its over before you think. My favorite thing about 5-K races is the atmosphere and it’s one of the only sports that everyone cheers you. Almost everyone there is in a good mood. How many other events in your life are like that?"

                                        And remember - YOU CAN DO IT!

Starting Line - Getting ready to go.
Starting Line - Getting ready to go.


Now lets talk about what is needed up front before you start.

1. Get a medical check from your doctor before you get started.


2. Comfortable running clothes, Shirt, Shorts. Socks, Sports Bra. Ect…


3. A cheap digital watch to help keep track of running/walking segments.

4. If you haven’t already bought GOOD pair of running shoes do it now. Try your local running store to get the proper fit. Buying the cheapest shoes that poorly fit will only hurt your knees, ankle, shins and could cause you to have blisters and other foot related problems. A good pair of shoes in most areas can be found for around $60 on up. Right now you don’t need the top of the line shoes just a pair that properly fit your feet which are comfortable and help you avoid injury.

Finding the proper shoe is very important!
Finding the proper shoe is very important!

5. Find a race coming up and put it on your calendar - It’ll give your training a purpose or goal. New runners I have come across are more motivated knowing a 5-K is approaching than they would be if they simply promised themselves they'd run." Circle it on your calendar to stay motivated.

Circle that race date on your calendar.
Circle that race date on your calendar.



When you're first beginning, it's important to run at an easy pace. You should be able to converse comfortably. If you can’t talk and run at the same time you are running to fast. Slow down and take it easy. Speed will come later as your running progresses.

Running a nice easy pace.
Running a nice easy pace.

You can be ready for your first 5k in as little a 5 weeks by running or run/walking three or four times a week.

First you need a proper warm-up before you start your workouts. Start by walking or run/ walking 5 to10 minutes. This will allow your cardiovascular system to be warmed up before you start. Just like you don’t start your car in the morning and the stomp the pedal to the floor to head to work or school you need to let you body warm-up before you put your body through a rigorous workout. And all workouts need to have a cooldown period of low-impact or slower exercise following a more intense workout to allow the body to gradually return to its normal level.

So if you're starting off at square one--you've never run or you've been inactive for quite some time--give yourself 5 to 8 weeks to build a base. Begin by going on a brisk walk so your body gets used to physical activity. Then progress to a walk/run. Try walking three minutes and running 30 seconds to one minute for a total of 25 minutes. Eventually shift to a run/walk with three minutes running and 30 seconds to one minute of walking. Gradually run more and walk less until you're running a full 30 minutes.

Don’t forget to do a cool down of a couple of minutes after each workout. Which will allow your body to cool back to a normal resting state.



You are ready!

Race Day

You have trained hard for this 5k race. Remember to start out near the back as everyone is lining up before the start. There will be other faster runners near the starting line and you don’t want to be in their way. Most races use timing chips that are attached to you shoes - so if your 30 to 45 seconds behind the staring gun don’t worry your time will start when you cross the starting line. Start out slow and don’t go out too fast. If you have to walk that’s ok there will be other people taking walk breaks around you.

Remember enjoy the experience.

As you finish the race smile knowing that you did it!

Yes I did it!
Yes I did it!

Grab a banana or bagel and some water or sports drink. (Most races provide water and or sport drinks. Grab some food of some sort after the races) and catch your breath. This will allow your body to start the rebuilding process after a hard run.

Nows the time for some post race grub!
Nows the time for some post race grub!

After the race you might find yourself looking forward to the next 5k in your town – Running might have hooked you – it hooked me. I know going into every race I’m not going to win. But I might place in my age group and I often do. You may run for health reasons, the challenge, understand oneself, building up one's self-steem, to lose weight, combat depression, stress or some other reason.

I run for the challenge, the friendships made, the goal in front of me - but most of all I run because - I love it!

Hope you do too!

Have fun –Be safe and I’ll see ya on the road.



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