The summer is just around the corner and that means 5k season is upon us! Today I’m sharing my top tips for new runners and runners new to the 5k. New runners may think that just getting started is an overwhelming task! I think that the most valuable thing you can do as a new runner is to get plugged in to your local running community and/or get a coach. Joining the running community will provide you with access to a group of motivated and encouraging runners in your area. Having the opportunity to talk with other experienced runners will probably save you time and frustration spent learning about the sport on your own through trial and error.
1. Commit to a race – Pick a local 5k! This can be a fun 5k like the color run events or a run for your favorite charity. Pick something that inspires you. Having a goal and a reason to train helps with motivation and discipline. When the race is local, it also helps to minimize race day jitters when coordinating packet pick up and parking for the start of the race.
2. Find a training plan – A training plan will help you build endurance slowly over time. Believe it or not, these small incremental changes will have you completely prepared come race day. It is important to note that your training plan will have rest days built-in. Do not ignore your rest days! They are just as important as your running days. You have multiple options for training plans including:
- Couch to 5k app – This app will direct you through 6 weeks of training that will guide you from walk/run intervals to 5k distance
- Supported training through your local running club – Many running clubs offer novice training programs to guide you progressive workouts in preparation for the 5k distance.
- Hire a coach – You can hire a coach that will be able to provide you with a customized plan to meet your needs and goals
3. Find your tribe – Get an accountability partner, a training buddy or sign up for supported training runs with your local running store/running club. When you have a friend waiting on you, you will be less likely to skip training runs. I have found that running with a group not only helps to increase motivation but it makes the time pass much quicker!
4. Shoes – If you are going to be serious about running, I highly recommend going to a running store for an evaluation and proper shoe fitting. As intuitive as running seems, biomechanics and properly fit running shoes can make all the difference. Running shoes are typically marketed in three different categories: neutral, support and stability. After watching your foot strike and determining the amount of pronation (if your feet roll inward) in your stride, the staff will be able to offer you a few shoe options to test (usually on a treadmill in the store).
5. Nutrition – Finally, you want to make sure that your body has the nutrients it needs to fuel your activity. Follow a balanced diet and plan to consume a small snack with carbohydrates and a small amount of protein about 90 minutes prior to your run. This can be a banana with nut butter, yogurt and granola, a piece of toast with nut butter and half a banana, or a fruit and nut bar like the RX bar for example. After your run it is equally important to replenish and re-fuel your body! It is ideal to consume the post-workout snack within 30 minutes of your activity. Post-workout snacks should have a 4:1 carb to protein ratio. After your run, you can have a handful of trail mix, a half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a serving of chocolate milk. Don’t forget to drink your water too!
And one bonus tip:
6. Stretch, stretch, stretch – Start your workout with a dynamic stretch to warm-up your muscles and prepare them for your activity. This will help to prevent injuries. A few examples of dynamic warm-up exercises include:
- Arm circles
- High knees
- Leg swings (front to back and side to side)
- Skips (for height and distance)
- Butt kicks
Post-workout, you can complete static stretches to help keep your muscles loose. If you need a little extra, you can also foam roll your trouble spots.
What tips would you add to this list?