So you are about to go on a 5k run for the first time? This article is for you.
I see many people saying all the time that they’re going on their first marathon, a simple 5k – many times as a special event, a family gathering of sorts or even for a good charitable cause.
Now, that’s all fine and I’m sure you’ll have fun as much as you will feel good after running BUT… even if you signed up for that 5K just for a good time with friends you still HAVE to prepare your body first. Specially if you’re not a regular runner! Many times we see 5k’s advertised but no one takes the time to insert a small indication of “caution: you have to prepare yourself before!”. I’ve had countless friends who were not physically active at all go for a 5k (because it was a special occasion type-of-marathon): some fainted, others quit, those who finished lay in bed for several days after. You CANNOT go for a 5K, just for fun, without preparation.
If you are indeed close to running your first 5K (which can be a painful 3.1miles if you aren’t used to it) or you just signed up for one, follow this guide to keep you safe and painless (as much as possible)! — Create a running and walking routine the weeks before the race.
You have to get your body ready some weeks before the actual race. Target two months as optimal for getting yourself completely ready. You have to get some endurance and you have to learn how to maintain a steady pace and not losing your breath while running (efficient breathing is one of the key factors to running as you know).
The 8 Week Routine Cycle
Spend some time figuring out a routine that you will carry for 8 weeks and it should go like this:
(ALWAYS heat up those muscles, don’t walk or run without proper exercising)
- You will walk and run for half an hour every day (except a day to rest);
- On the first week, give yourself a break while alternating running with walking — you can run 20 seconds for each 40 seconds walked. Or even less if you’re really unprepared (10 seconds being the minimum). Walking is as much important as running;
- As you feel more comfortable with the running cycles, prolong that time — instead of 20 seconds of running and 40 walking, make it 30 seconds each. See how your body deals with those bursts and maximise the time you spend running;
- Keep this cycle going in your week but do have one day a week of rest for your muscles to relax. If it’s been a bit hard on you, you can add a “softer day” after the rest day — just walk after relaxing, don’t run the day after. The other 5 days of the week should be spent on a steady cycle rhythm with increasing times of running vs walking;
- If you want to see what the distance is really like or how it really feels, walk those 3.1miles in a steady pace. It’ll give you a chance for having a better perception of the true distance and how you are going to approach it;
- In the final week you should spend the same amount of time on walking and running (30 seconds cycles);
- Through all preparation time you should add blocks of running for 5 or 10 minutes.
Don’t forget! Besides the physical preparation in motion you have to eat healthier — have more frequent meals with less quantities – bet on more lean protein, fruits and vegetables and a bit of fat too (you’ll need it for combustion).
In the week of the race day
Let’s say that your race is on a Sunday – how should the last days of training go?
- Thursday (3 days before race) — it should be your last day of running before the race. Go for a 30 minutes training with balanced time between walking and running;
- Friday (2 days before race) — go on your 30 minutes training but don’t run — just walk at a steady pace, keeping velocity and controlling breathing;
- Saturday (1 day before race) — give your body a break and rest. You’ll need to repair and relax all your muscles before that stretch. No running the day before!
- Sunday – Race day! Try to not be late, get your attire ready and get the most comfortable running shoes. Have fun and be healthy!