When I first started my running hobby in 2012, I hadn’t run a mile since high school. I signed up for Run Disney’s Princess Half Marathon and decided I was going to do 3 official races before my big Disney World debut – 5k, 10k and 15k. I thought of my training like a ladder an that meant training for a 5k first. Surviving your first 5k might seem like a daunting task if you aren’t a runner, but I’m here to help!
How to Run Your First Official 5k
Decide on Training
After you’ve signed up for your first 5k, it’s time to think about training. Nobody starts running without struggles. It’s going to feel like a daunting task. Deciding on a training program will help you break it into smaller chunks, get over mental hurdles and feel confident on your race day.
The most popular program is probably the Couch to 5k app, which requires 20-30 minutes of training several days per week. Another option is using Jeff Galloway’s Run/Walk/Run method, which has you alternating between running and walking intervals to conserve energy. There is an app for the Jeff Galloway method and he also has an excellent informational book, “5k and 10k running: Jeff Galloway.”
Make Running a Priority
You have to make a date with yourself and commit to running. Mark your training on your calendar. If you are crafty, print out your training calendar and place some inspirational images around it for a collage. This is a time to your wellness first.
Be Prepared to Run
The biggest myth that new runners fall for is the whole “you only need shoes to run.” LIES! Running isn’t the cheapest sport. You’ll need the right gear to ensure you feel great while running. If anything goes wrong, with your gear, during a run, you’ll be miserable. My list of 10 Must Have Items for Running will help you be prepared for any weather. I also recommend getting properly fitted for running shoes. Take time to schedule an appointment at your local running store.
Learn About Recovery
When you first start running, you’ll definitely be sore and feel fatigued. There are many things you can do to alleviate the soreness. Learning how to use foam roller and soaking in Epsom salts are my two favorite ways to recover. Staying active and wearing compression socks help the following day, after a run.
Know How to Eat
I’m not a nutritional expert, but I know what works for my body when I run. When you start training, pay close attention to your diet and how you feel during/after a run. Foods can cause GI upset, make you feel sluggish or give you a boost of energy. Protein and carb blended snacks are my favorite combo to eat prior to a run. Toast with peanut butter, carrots and hummus or nuts in yogurt are great go-to snacks.
Be Prepared on Race Morning
After you’ve completed your training, the fun begins at your race. You might be nervous (here are some tips to calm race nerves) but you should relax and enjoy it. The night prior to your race, place your “flat runner” on the floor. This is all of your gear, plus your bib – it looks like a flat runner. This eliminates the stress of finding things in the morning. I also like to create a fun and fresh playlist.
Run in the Moment
Soak up every minute during your race. Repeat a personal mantra to help you stay focused. My favorite is “inhale confidence and exhale doubt.” Make sure you run with your shoulders back and you focus on a point ahead of you. Looking down will only cause wasted energy. The time will fly by and you’ll be done running before you know it.
Go ahead and buy that first official 5k bumper sticker! These tips will help you rock your first 5k, become an official competitive runner and I guarantee you’ll want to sign up for another race!