Running is an excellent way to get in shape and shed unwanted body fat. A 5 kilometer run (“5K”) is usually the first organized race new runners try, and it serves as a good benchmark for gauging how in shape your cardio vascular system is. If you’re new to running, or maybe you’ve been training for a while and now you’re thinking about entering your first 5K, here’s 6 tips to get you ready for your first race!
1. 5Ks are Not that Far
The first thing to remember about a 5K is that its not that far. The distance of a 5K is equal to roughly 3.1 miles. Walking at a good pace, most people can do a 5K in under an hour, and casual runners will cover a 5K in 25 to 40 minutes. 3.1 miles may feel a little daunting in the beginning, but after just a couple weeks of training, you will begin to feel really confident about completing a 5K race.
2. 5Ks are for Everyone
Organized 5Ks can be whatever you want them to be. Most races have runners start in heats. The early heats are where your competitive runners are, those who will run at a 4:30 to 5:00 minute per mile pace. From there, the heats will get progressively slower and definitely much less competitive. The last few heats are usually for power walker and walkers. From speedsters to newbies, a good 5K run will have a heat for you.
3. Your Goals are Your Goals
When it comes to 5Ks, everyone has different goals, and no matter where you are in your fitness journey, you should feel good about whatever you’re trying to accomplish. If your goal is simply to finish, you will meet a whole group of people whose goal is exactly the same. Are you looking to set a new personal record? Strike up a conversation with others in your heat and try to find someone who runs the 5K in the time your shooting for and keep them in your sights during the race.
4. 5Ks are a Great Way to Meet People
While running may seem like an individual sport, it’s actually a great way to meet new people. You’re bound to see someone you know from work, school or your neighborhood at a local 5K. Running groups are becoming more and more prevalent and are a great way to mix your social life with your fitness life. Having others be part of your 5K experience will help keep you motivated and accountable.
5. Train Gradually
As you begin training for your first 5K, remember to increase your speed and distance gradually. Many people don’t enjoy running because they try to start off too fast. Easing into a training plan for a 5k won’t leave you miserable once you finally finish those 3.1 miles. Begin your 5k training by running for 20-30 minutes 3 days a week. Be sure to space out your runs throughout the week so your body has time to rest and recover.
6. Don’t be Afraid to Walk
There’s absolutely no shame in walking. Whether its during your first 5K, or during your training, alternating between walking and jogging is a great way to ensure you finish. For example, you can warm up with a 5 minute walk, then begin to alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking. As you progress, you should be able to gradually begin jogging more than walking. Keep with a pace that feels right for you, and if you’ve started training a few weeks before your 5K, keep these benchmarks in mind:
- Week Two: jog 90 seconds, walk 2 minutes
- Week Three: jog 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes
- Week Four: jog 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes
- Week Five: jog 8 minutes, walk 2 minutes
Running a 5K can be a great experience. The training, community and improved fitness are all ancillary benefits to adding a few 5Ks to your schedule.