Beginner’s Guide to Running a 5km
So you’re new to running and have decided that running a 5km event is going to be your first big goal. It may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be if you’re prepared. Here are some great tips to help you get started; you’ll feel fantastic once you reach that finish line on the day!
Get the right gear
First thing’s first – make sure that you’re set up well. Get yourself a good pair of running shoes that fit, because the last thing you want to do is get injured because your footwear doesn’t have enough support in the right places. A good sports bra is important for ladies, plus any other clothing items you need for comfort such as a hat, sunglasses, and a waterproof lightweight jacket (because you can’t skip training for a week if it rains every day!). Some good blister plasters and/or sticking plasters are also useful, along with sunscreen and an easy to carry drink bottle or water backpack.
Create a plan
Look at your week ahead and schedule in your training times, noting exactly what you plan on doing during each training session and how long that session will go for. Start off with a 7 day plan, crossing out at least 1-2 days for rest days which are important to let your muscles recover. Then fill in the gaps – your exercise sessions should include minimum 1-2 outdoor runs a week as that will be the closest to your 5km event conditions. You could also include strength training such as a weights session or yoga, which will have the added benefit of stretching. Indoor cardio sessions or group fitness classes that get your heartrate could also help build up your fitness. Don’t feel like you have to run every single session; variety will help keep you going!
Always start with a warmup of around 5 minutes brisk walking to get your joints warmed up as this will help prevent injuries. If you have a watch, alternate between running for a minute, walking for 2 minutes (or double those times if you’re a bit fitter), then each week after this, start to add more minutes to the running time. This interval training will help build up your fitness over time, and give you a moment of active recovery to rest for a while as you’re walking. No watch? If you are road running, you can plan your run by lampposts. For your first week, try running to the first lamppost, walking to the next and keep alternating. Don’t worry about speed to begin with, just aim to complete your distance or the length of time you would like to walk/run for.
You can also gradually increase the distance you want to cover, or time to run for from week to week if you like. Use an online tool or app such as Map My Run to plan out your running training course and the distance you want to cover.
Make sure you stretch properly after each training session as it will help improve your recovery time and better flexibility means you’re less likely to get injured.
Be prepared for the day
About a week before your race day, make sure that you have completed the full 5km distance outdoors at least once so you know what to expect and around about how long it will take you to complete. Avoid doing this in the few days before the event as your body may not recover in time – make sure you taper your training off in that final week. Many a beginner runner has found themselves injured and unable to do their race in the final week leading up to their event due to overtraining!
Have a good breakfast on the day in plenty of time to make sure you can have a toilet stop before the start time if your race begins early. Drink plenty of water in the leadup to the event and have some on hand with you if the event organisers don’t supply drinking water at stations along the course. Have a few plasters handy in case you get a blister or two, as running can be painful if they’re not seen to promptly! Most of all, have fun and enjoy yourself as this event is what you’ve worked so hard for.
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