Having run hundreds of races ranging in distance from the mile to the marathon I have grown to love some distances more than others. Although quite different from my other affinity, the marathon, the 5k has become one of my favorite distances for various reasons. In the 5k, I have a chance to meet runners of all levels from novice to advanced. But I am not alone in my passion; the 5K (3.1 miles) is one of the most popular races in the world. The main reason for its popularity is it’s shorter and more attainable length. The 5k run is the perfect run to train for as part of your current fitness goals. Even if you are not a runner you can still train and run a 5k. And if you follow these 10 tips you will finish your 5k injury free and with a smile.
Set Your Goal
A 5k race can have a great range of fitness levels from the walker to the avid runner so race times can range from 16 minutes to one hour so the best thing you can do is look at your time as the main competition. To avoid injury focus on quickening your own time rather than focusing on your competition. If you follow this rule you will find even more pride in your personal accomplishment.
Find a 5k and Register
Look into your local area for a 5k close by to not only benefit a charity but also to get involved with your community. Compuscore.com is a great website to look for a directory of local 5k races. Pick your race and register for a race 8-12 weeks away so you will have ample time to begin your 5k training plan.
Begin Your Training
There are many 5k training programs out there but the best program to start with is basic with 3 days of running and 1-2 days of cross training. If you find it difficult to monitor your training consider hiring a personal trainer or running coach to help you on your way to attaining your 5k fitness goal.
Running Day 1 is a higher intensity day in which you will run as long as you can (starting a 1 mile and each week adding a ½ mile until you reach 4 miles) with minimal walking breaks.
Running Day 2 is a mid level intensity day with walk breaks allowed when needed. Begin this training with a half to one mile and gradually work up to the entire 5K distance (3.1 miles) at a medium pace.
Running Day 3 is a long slow running day. Day 3 is the day where you focus on running to build your endurance and train your muscles and lungs to running for a longer distance. On this day you will start with 1 mile to 1 and ½ miles and work your way up to 4 to 5 miles.
Cross Training is Key
By weight training with weight bearing exercises you will improve your 5k time and have more energy! By strength training you will build the strength in your tendons, muscles and ligaments to help eliminate the risk of an injury. If you find it difficult to motivate yourself to weight train or you are uncertain in proper form consider joining a fitness bootcamp at a local park where weight training is involved. This program can help you to be well on your way to running your first 5k!
Always Warm Up Properly
By doing a proper warm up prior to any workout you are increasing circulation to the working muscles which results in decreased tightness in your muscles, lowers risk of an injury, and improves your exercise performance. Before your race it is integral to stretch your muscles holding for 15 seconds and run a light 3 minute jog.
Do a Post Workout & Post Race Stretch
Being flexible is an important part of fitness and exercise increases the range of flexibility in a joint. Flexibility is also specific to every sport; meaning some sports some muscles needed to be more flexible than others. Runners should focus on stretching the hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus minimus/maximus.