Now is the perfect time to train for your first 5k. And yes, I mean even during the pandemic.
With many gyms still closed and late spring weather finally being more favorable, taking workouts outdoors is encouraged. This means trying out running for the first time or the first time in a long time.
Some people might even have been training for their first 5k before organized were canceled and postponed. Others might see that virtual race on social media and want to participate.
Follow these running tips to be able to complete a 5k during the pandemic.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your medical provider with questions or concerns before implementing any recommendations or suggestions from this website. Make sure to first have medical clearance by your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.
Get The Gear
Tips To Buying Running Shoes
To run injury-free it’s important to have the right gear. This means investing a good pair of running sneakers.
It’s best to get properly fitted for running shoes based on how to foot lands on the ground. Some brands run small, whereas others are too narrow.
The problem is that many running stores might still be closed or not offering in-person fittings. Constant the store to see if there are virtual options for picking a pair of running sneakers. Then order them online or opt for curbside pick up.
A general rule of thumb is to order a half size up. Another tip is to get shoe recommendations regarding if you need more support or if you are more a minimalist when it comes to the shoes and look online for older models to save money on a new pair.
If all else fails, buying new running shoes isn’t a necessity. Use common sense like not running in fashion sneakers that aren’t designed for walking or sports.
Walk Before You Run
A great way to break in those new sneakers is by starting with a few walks. Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint when it comes to running your first 5k. This means focusing primarily on walking to start working the muscles and having them slowly adapt to the load.
For complete beginners spend at least three weeks going for 20 to 30-minute walks three times a week. Get the body and mind prepared for the level of exercise to come.
Once you will like you can power walk without a problem, it’s time to kick it up a notch. But it’s not the time for full out sprinting to the imaginary finish line. Start running by continuing to walk, but then throw in some segments of jogging throughout the workout.
Created by Jeff Galloway, this is what is known as the Run/Walk Method. The idea is that you walk say for two minutes, then jog for one minute. Then repeat.
My tip is to always start with a 5 minute warm-up of dynamic stretches like lunges and jumping jacks. Then start by walking. Then walk/run. Then walk to cool down for five minutes.
I also suggest starting with time, not distance. Beginner runners looking to do a 5k should start by completing 20- to 30-minute workouts.
Once you are comfortable with the Run/Walk/Run Method for at least a half-hour, it’s time to start working at distance.
There are two ways to go about a mini distance goal that helps bring you closer to that 5k goal. If you feel like you are ready to ditch the walking, try running 1 mile. Followed by another mile for the next run. Finish the week with 1.5 miles.
The following week, start with 1.5 miles, followed by another 1.5 miles. Then aim for 2 miles.
The next week do 2 miles, 2.5 miles, then scale back to 1.5 miles. Make the next run for 3.1. You know that you only have just slightly more than half a mile to reach your end goal. You should have the confidence to do so. And you have rested legs because you scaled back leading up for your big run. You got this!
If you prefer to continue with walks in-between jogging intervals, there is no shame in this. Many runners follow this strategy for various distances, even half marathons!
Instead of 30-minute workouts, now also focus on distance. Warm-up, then following run/walk intervals for a mile, then cool down. Like the pattern before, each week work up to do further. When you are a half-mile away from the goal, scale back, rest up and make the next workout the 5k.
Log Your Workouts
Depending on the level of fitness, it can take some time to prepare for a 5k. This can be anywhere from 6 weeks and more. You don’t want to do too much too soon. This will cause injury and mental burnout. Be patient with the process.
Logging workouts is the best way to stick to the game plan. Write down the workout for the day and enter in your finish time and how you felt during and after the workout.
This helps with accountability and so that you can track your progress over the weeks to come.
Run For Fun, Not Time
Running a 5k solo virtually isn’t the same as running a 5k at an organized event. These races have a motivating atmosphere, incentives like awards and finisher medals, and the crowds cheering you on to boost morale.
Remember that it’s still an amazing accomplishment to reach this goal. Many virtual options mail medals or make your own! Have your family wait at your finish line to celebrate with you.
And run, jog, run/walk for fun! Completing your first 5k is a great fitness goal, but it also should be fun. Don’t overthink or overstress. You don’t need to be fast to be a runner. All you need is the belief in yourself that you can do this, the discipline is stick to your planned weekly workouts, and a positive attitude to carry you to the finish.
Run Your Race
Plan for your “race day.” This means checking the weather for the week and where your route is. It’s best to already know the course such as the same few blocks by your home or a specific portion of your local park.
Don’t do or wear anything new on race day. If you normally like to eat before a run, eat. Don’t wear workout clothes you never wore before or new shoes.
Pick that date and stick to it. Have your family support you if they can be waiting at the finish. Plan your victory party for finishing your first 5k at home with your favorite food or drink. Have fun with it and finish strong knowing that you are now a 5k finisher. Once races resume to normal, sign up for one near you and put all this practice to the next stage by participating with others.