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How To Train For Your First 5k

How To Train For Your First 5k

Race season is here and maybe you’re contemplating signing up for your first 5k. You may be wondering how do I train for my first 5k? and how do I prepare for race day?

Regardless of whether you’re new to running or if you have run in the past, running your first 5k can be nerve-racking. I’m here to tell you don’t be nervous — be excited! You have a wonderful journey ahead of you!

First things first, get crystal clear on two things:

1. Why do you want to run a 5k?

What is the reason you want to run a 5k? Is it to raise money for a charitable organization, to check it off of your bucket list, or to join a friend who has already signed up? Know the specific reason you want to run your first 5k.

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2. How will running a 5k make you feel?

This is important, and the reason why is because when you are faced with obstacles, you can you use this tool to fall back on. Will you feel accomplished after your first 5k? Will you be inspired to sign up for another race? How will running a 5k make you feel?

I started running for one reason: my step-father lost his life to cancer. I decided to find a 5k race that would provide financial resources to families affected by cancer in my area. That was my reason. I wanted to feel accomplished and to support a cause that mattered dearly to me. Little did I know after my first 5k that I’d find a new love for running. Fast forward to two years later, I am now training for my first marathon. Running inspired me to reach my full athletic potential — or, at least, to go after it!

Now onto the work. Training for a race can seem like an overwhelming thing to do, but keep in mind that thousands of people each and every year, of all shapes and sizes, run 5k races and have fun while doing so!

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Training Tips:

1. Start 2 months before your race

Pick a race that allows for 60 days of training. Running a 5k may be an easy feat for some, and for others, it may be frightening. No matter where you are with respect to physical capabilities, 60 days will allow for adequate training for race day. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

2. Start small

That’s right! One foot in front of the other. During the first portions of your training, you may be incorporating a run/walk routine and building off that — that’s okay! I remember when I first started training for my first 5k, I would run a block then walk a block. When I became comfortable with the running portion, I slowly increased the distance I was running and decreased the distance I was walking.

Tip: Create a training schedule like this one. Sticking to a schedule will you help you stay on track without overwhelming your body.

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3. Enlist the support of friends

Perhaps you have a friend who can run with you or maybe simply cheer for you at the start and finish line. Either way, having support from people in your life will keep you motivated to stick to your training plan and to do your best on race day.

Tip: When you’re faced with an obstacle, refer to your answers for why you want to run a 5k and how you will feel after you finish your first 5k.

Race Day Tips:

1. What to wear

Since you have been training for your race, you will be knowledgeable of possible weather conditions on race day. The biggest thing to remember is to be comfortable when you run. Find attire that provides comfort while allowing for physical activity. Don’t focus on what you will look like or having the newest running attire — if you’re comfortable, you can focus on the race ahead of you.

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2. Hydration/Nutrition

Be sure to adequately hydrate your body before and on race day. Drink plenty of water the day and evening before the race and immediately when you wake up on race day. With respect to nutrition, let’s simplify this a bit: a 5k is 3.1 miles. It isn’t a marathon, but it isn’t an easy feat. Fuel your body the day before with nutrient-rich foods high in fat, protein, and calories. For race day, depending on the time of your race, be sure to eat and fuel your body, but don’t overdo it.

3. Handling the crowd at the start line

This is often where the nerves start kicking in, but let these nerves motivate you. Your best bet is to know your average pace and position yourself in the crowd accordingly. Sometimes, with larger crowds’, runners are lined up based on their pace. Find your pace group and start and finish with them. If this isn’t an option, position yourself with the crowd accordingly. For example, fast runners up front, average pace in the middle, and slower runners in the back. From experience, I will admit I position myself with runners that are 30 seconds ahead of my pace. This way, I keep my pace up and am always looking to push myself to the next level throughout the course.

Conclusion

Running your first 5k can be a scary and exciting thing all at the same time. Training for your first 5k can seem like a daunting task, but it’s something thousands of people take on every year, and so can you! Be sure to train properly, research 5k running plans, enlist friends for support, and always remember: this isn’t the Olympics, have some fun!

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Tara Massan

Founder of Be Moved, Life Coach and Writer.

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Last Updated on January 5, 2021

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

Starting a journey with fitness goals is never easy, and you must remember this is not a crash diet; it is a lifestyle. Don’t panic and think you have to do it all at once, as this will most likely overwhelm you. You may also find yourself giving up because crash diets are not sustainable.

The best approach is to make simple changes to your daily habits, and over time, you will notice all your bad habits have turned into good ones.

Accordingly to a study by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.[1] And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.

Here are 15 fitness goals to help you on your journey:

1. Drink More Water

W.H. Auden said it best when he said,

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

With any diet, the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking water will support your body with digestion, transporting nutrients to your bones and muscles, and even improving cognitive function.

Ideally, you want to drink about half your body weight in ounces per day, i.e. if you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.

2. Add Some Lemon and Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Water

It is recommended we sleep for about 8 hours a day, but this means we spend about 8 hours per day dehydrated. Therefore, hydrating your body first thing in the morning is absolutely necessary.

The best way to achieve hydration is by starting your day with a glass or even two of water. For that extra boost, add lemon juice and ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. The lemon and apple cider vinegar will help your body with detoxifying, cleansing, and digestion.

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3. Stop Drinking Your Calories

Yes, keeping hydrated is important, but try to avoid high-calorie drinks, such as soft drinks, specialty coffee, and juices as they are full of fast-acting sugar.

Really push yourself to stop drinking such drinks, and before you know it, you will notice the benefits.

4. Start Stretching More Often

The benefits are vast and the repercussions of failing to stretch can be dramatic.

Do yourself a favor and always stretch before and after a workout. This will promote a healthy cool down, improve flexibility, and reduce next day aches. Failure to stretch can lead to injures and muscle damage.

Here’re some simple stretching exercises to get you started: 15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

5. Add in Some High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

You may have heard about HIIT training because it is the big thing right now, and believe me when I say that it works and should absolutely be included in your fitness goals.

The benefits include lower body fat, increased stamina, leaner muscles, and fantastic hormonal benefits.

HIIT is where you perform an intense exercise for a very short time frame (about 30 seconds), followed by a slower exercise for about 90 seconds.

Performing a HIIT routine for 1-3 times a week will lead to great results.

6. Focus on Your Breathing When You Work Out

For the most part, breathing is second nature, but when exercising, you may find yourself holding your breath, and this can have negative consequences.

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It is important to consciously take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, as this will fill your lungs with oxygen and give you the necessary energy to continue your workout.

7. Build More Lean Muscle

We all want to have lean muscles. Not only does it look good, but it also has great health benefits, including:

  • Improved posture
  • Reduced body fat
  • Improved metabolism
  • Strong bones
  • Protects and improves joint health
  • Improved stamina

You can build lean muscle by lifting weights or through other specific exercises. Learn more about building muscle in this guide: How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

8. Decrease Body Fat

This may seem like an obvious one, but it is one of the most important steps to a healthier you. Reducing your body fat has a lot of benefits such as:

  • Improved joints and tendons
  • Lowered risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better performance and endurance
  • Improved appearance and confidence
  • Better hormonal profiles in your body

Remember, it is not a race to see how quickly you can decrease your body fat. Healthy weight loss is around 1-2 pounds a week for your fitness goals.[2]

Crash dieting or pushing yourself too much in the gym can lead to you achieving an unrealistic target, and you may find yourself gaining all the weight you have lost.

Think of it as a lifestyle, and take it slow and steady.

9. Eat More Greens

What you eat is the most important factor in a healthier living plan. It is important to ensure you are getting as many nutrients and vitamins from the food you are eating as possible.

Focus on dark, leafy greens, as they will provide you with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants—all of which you body needs!

Don’t forget to avoid processed and manufactured food. They are usually high in fat and have minimal vitamins.

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10. Start Eliminating Sugar

Another top goal you can start immediately is reducing the amount of sugar you consume. It also won’t cost you anything, and will save you money and improve your health in the long run.

There’s no surprise we eat too much sugar, and this should be one of your top fitness goals moving forward. Cutting out liquid calories is a great way to start. If you’re looking for something sweet, turn to fruits or even dark chocolate.

Be careful to eliminate sugar from your diet slowly. Cutting it out all at once can cause symptoms of sugar withdrawal, which can drive you back to sugary snacks[3].

Common symptoms of sugar withdrawal

    11. Allow Yourself to Rest and Recover

    The workout is where you go to break down muscle tissue, and it builds back through proper nutrition, rest, and recovery[4]. It might be tempting to go to the gym for two hours every day as hard as you can to achieve your goals, but that’s not the most effective approach.

    If you don’t allow for proper rest and recovery, it can set you back a few steps. Your body is more prone to injury and even illness as you can weaken your immune system from all the progressive intensity the body is facing.

    12. Get More Sleep

    When you are deprived of sleep, you make it next to impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals. Lack of sleep can increase stress hormones in your body, and over time these can lead to inflammation and chronic diseases.[5]

    Make sleep a priority to let your body heal and rejuvenate. A good approach is 7 to 8 hours. Also, allow yourself some wind-down time and a pre-bed routine to help get more consistent sleep every night.

    13. Focus on the Habit, Not the Result

    It’s easy to get caught up in trying to achieve a certain look or shed time off of your mile, but the more important focus is on the habit that will bring you closer to those fitness goals.

    Don’t look at the scale, the tape measurer, or the body fat percentage. Focus on the habits that will lead to those achievements.

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    Don’t compare yourself to where others are; you’re right where you need to be.

    14. Take Your Fitness Outside

    This may be hard depending on the weather you experience, but the more you can be outside exposed to fresh air and sunlight, the better.

    Being stuck in the gym doing cardio while staring at a wall won’t do much for your mental stimulation.

    Try to challenge your body more by getting outside. Hiking is great and also just running and walking. Give yourself more access to nature and a constantly changing environment. It also beats breathing in that recycled gym air.

    15. Do at Least One Pull Up

    This is a great last goal to focus on because it’s a great test of strength and to see how you are progressing with your fitness.

    If you haven’t been able to do one, you know what a challenge it can be. Having the goal of doing at least one pull up will not only show you how far you’ve progressed, but it is a great way to become dedicated and motivated.

    The Bottom Line

    These fitness goals will become more attainable through the year if you’re consistent with your fitness. Set yourself a concrete timeline for when you want to accomplish some or all of these in order to create realistic goals in the short term. In fact, start making one of these goals happen this month!

    More on Setting Fitness Goals

    Featured photo credit: Ivan Torres via unsplash.com

    Reference

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