Student health tips: How to train for a 5k

Marahon shoesSo you think you want to be a runner? Maybe you’ve even signed up for your first 5K. But now you need to prepare for that 3.1 mile run. It may sound daunting, but you can do it, and probably train for a 5K it in less time than you think. Whether you have been running for some time or never laced up a pair of sneakers and hit the pavement, here are some tips on how to train for your first 5K.

How to start running

Think you can just head out your door and start running? Maybe you could, but you probably won’t keep at it. Also, a little advance prep will save you from an injury down the road. Leta Shy posted on July 31, 2013, on Popsugar Fitness 15 Steps to Becoming a Runner,” offering new runners some tips not only on how to get started, but also, and perhaps more importantly, how to keep running.

Number one tip—find the right running shoes. Shy recommended that you “go to a reputable running shoe store to get a professional gait analysis and recommendations.” They won’t be cheap, but they should feel good from the first. She also suggests mixing up your runs, trying different routes and lengths, as well as treadmill vs. outdoor runs. Finally, Shy suggested having a goal. You know, like a 5K!

Other things to remember? Don’t just run. It may sound counter-intuitive, but cross training can improve your running. For instance, adding a bit of yoga can help you strengthen and stretch. Finally, be safe when running. Maybe even enlist a friend to train with you.

Why a 5K?

Everyone needs a goal and a 5K is probably the most popular run around. Jeff Galloway of Runner’s World shared on the “6 Reasons to Run a 5K”:

  1. It’s easy. You can work up to a 5K quickly even if you have never run before and train for it by running three days a week.
  2. It’s convenient. You arrive for your 5K, warm-up, run, grab your new T-shirt and are probably home before your friends have even gotten up for the day!
  3. It’s exhilarating. You will be racing! And unlike longer races, you might be able to run a bit faster during a 5K than you did while training — just save your speed for the end.
  4. See improvement. Adding a 5K into your normal training routine gives you not only a physical boost, but also it helps you see how your regular training is making you better.
  5. It’s motivating. Knowing that you have a 5K coming up may mean the difference between getting up for that run or staying in bed.

Of course everyone is different, so find a reason to run and a training schedule that works for you.

Prep for your first 5K

You’ve got a running regimen established and your first 5K is coming up. How should you get ready for your race day? These tips for your first 5K from Elizabeth Waterstraat in her article “Running for Beginners: 10 Things to Know Before Your First 5K,” posted on Shape on July 25, 2013, should help you get started:

  • Plan on a good night’s sleep two days before. You’ll probably be nervous the night before, so getting some zz’s two nights in advance can help.
  • Run less the week before. You want to let your legs rest; do a few short runs that will prep you for the 5K’s faster pace.
  • Eat and drink. Have a simple, easy to digest meal about two hours before the 5K.
  • Arrive to the race early. Even if you have already picked up your packet, you want plenty of time to park and find the starting line.
  • Don’t start out too fast. You want to pace yourself, meaning you can hopefully finish the second half of the 5K faster than the first half.

Now, you have to admit that felt pretty awesome, didn’t it? Running your first 5K is a great experience and definitely something to brag about! Capitalize on that post-race high you feel and keep your running momentum going.

How did you prepare for your first 5K? Share your hard “run” wisdom in the comments below.

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