Are you trying to get in shape or looking for a new challenge? Have you thought about running? It’s an excellent form of exercise, and this is the time of year when 5K runs and marathons are starting, so why not give one a try? It can seem a bit intimidating at first if you’ve never done anything like that. However, even an inexperienced runner can be ready for a 5K in about 8 weeks.
The first thing to do is make a plan and set some goals. Registering for a 5K event, which is 3.1 miles, will help you stay motivated as you start training. If you’re a beginning runner, pick an event that is about 3 months away to give your body ample time to prepare.
Before you can even begin to train, you’ll need a few accessories. Having a good pair of supportive running shoes is a must. It’s a good idea to use them only for your workouts. A heart rate monitor is also a helpful accessory for timing your runs and tracking your heart rate if you plan to train outdoors.
Once you have all the proper gear, you’re ready to train. The most important thing to do is start slow. In the beginning, your workouts should consist of mostly walking with a little jogging added in there. This will allow your body to adapt and progress over time.
Your plan should include three days a week of running. Every workout should begin with a five minute warm-up period of walking. It should also end with a five minute cool down. In between, you’ll need to set aside about 30 minutes of running/walking, depending on which week you are on in your training. Alternate the days in between with rest or cross training. Periods of rest are necessary for your muscles to recover.
Here’s a breakdown of an 8 week training period:
Week 1: Time yourself walking for approximately six minutes, then switch to an easy-paced jog for another minute. Repeat this three more times, or until about 30 minutes have passed. Try to perform this same workout on three different days that week.
Week 2: For your next three workouts, time yourself walking for five minutes, then switch to jogging for two minutes. Repeat that three more times in each session.
Week 3: Decrease your walking time to three minutes, and increase your jog to four minutes. In this week, you’ll repeat it four times in your session, but still do the workout three days a week. Note that you are now jogging more than you are walking.
Week 4: You should be getting used to the drill by now. You’re gradually progressing from walking to running. Walk for two minutes, and jog for five minutes. Repeat four times in one session, and do three sessions for the week.
Week 5: Time yourself walking for two minutes, then switch to jogging for eight minutes. Continue to do that three more times in one session, and allow for three sessions that week.
Week 6: Stick with walking for two minutes, but jog for nine minutes. Do this three more times in your session, and keep with three sessions a week.
Week 7: Walk for only one minute, and follow it with an 11 minute jog. Repeat that three more times in one session, and allow for three sessions that week.
Week 8: Be proud of yourself for making it this far in your training! Perform your warm up and cool down like you’ve been doing every week, but spend the time in between with a 20 – 30 minute non-stop run. Increase your run time by a little each day. By now, you should have accomplished your training goals and you’ll be confident that you can take on the 5K that’s coming up. Congratulations!
The above is a guide to help you get started. Vary the times and pace to meet your needs. Don’t forget to keep track of your progress. There are many apps and programs available that can help you do this. Remember that it’s more important to work towards distance than it is to train harder. Practice proper breathing and don’t overdo it. If you’re breathing so hard that it would be difficult to carry on a conversation, then you need to tone it down.
To help you fuel your workouts, think about your diet. It’s important that you don’t skip meals. Your body needs the proper nutrition in order to perform at its best. Get plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins in smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Before a run, have a light meal or snack that’s high in carbs and low in fat and fiber to give you energy. Wait about an hour after eating before you work out. Hydration is also important, so drink plenty of water.
For added fun, encourage your friends to join you in your challenge. You can help each other stay motivated and share in the sense of accomplishment that will come with crossing the finish line! Now, get running!
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