I want to run a 5k!
Starting a new activity or setting a new goal can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time.
- How do I begin?
- What do I need?
- Is this even a realistic for me to accomplish?
These are probably only a few of the questions that may be spinning through your head!
We have gathered a variety of tips and resources for you to get your started off on the right foot for running your first 5k!
If you’ve already gone to the back of your closet and dusted off your gym shoes from years ago, you can just take them straight out to the trash (alternatively, HERE are some great donation resources for old shoes). Even if you only wore them “a few times”, it is probably more times than you think, and the breakdown of the material over time is not a good starting place for your feet.
It is important to be professionally fit for a quality pair of running shoes by your local running shoe shop, and we would be honored if you stopped in and let us help find the best pair of shoes for you. By having an expert look at how your arches and ankles work together, then advise you on the shoe models that are best for you, you are taking a simple step in the right direction of fending off injury due to poor support. Comfortable footwear makes for more enjoyable runs, too!
Pro Tip: Not All Socks Are Created Equal! We follow the ABC’s here at Run Away Shoes – Anything But Cotton! Cotton locks onto moisture, causing friction and creating blisters. Ouch! While you’re out getting a pair of quality running shoes, do not forget to pick up a pair or two of quality running socks.
Not only does a quality sock provide moisture management, there are other key features to look for that will add comfort to your run.
- A seamless toe box to prevent friction from raised seams
- Extra padding around the heel to reduce friction on your Achilles tendon
- A contoured heel and arch wrap to prevent the sock from slipping down in your shoe.
2. A Training Plan
Training plans are fantastic resources for helping direct you on what to do in order to meet your goal of completing a 5k, or running a new PR (personal record).
If you head over to Google and search “How to run a 5k” or “Beginner 5k training plan”, you will find endless resources. In fact, that may have been how you came across this page! The most important thing to consider when reviewing training plans is to find one that is in the realm of your current ability level. The best ones gradually build up the distance or amount of time you are running for in order to curb your risk of injury from over-training.
Pro Tip: When following a written training plan, be committed to the plan BUT be diligent about listening to your body if you are injured, ill, or feeling run down. Powering through the next day may set you further back. Take an extra rest day, or adjust your workouts slightly as you work through a hurdle.
Here is one option for a training plan:
Additional recommended training plan resources:
3. Strength Training & Stretching
If you want to run a 5k, your #1 priority should be to run. However, it is also important to add a strength training routine into your training plan 2-3 days each week. This is important for fending off injury and helping you to become a more efficient runner. We have a few suggestions of strength training exercise that could be incorporated into your routine:
Hips: Monster Walks
- It is important to have strong hips to help keep a strong running form and alignment while you run to prevent injury.
- How-To: Put a resistance band around your knees with the resistance of your current ability level. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. You should feel resistance here. Step sideways with your right leg and then slowly bring the left leg to meet the right. Repeat this 10 times on each side, for 2-3 reps. Increase steps and reps with ability.
- If you only have a minute, this is a great exercise because it utilizes stabilizing muscles throughout the entire body.
- How -To: Lay on your belly on the ground, and then use your forearms/elbows and toes to hold yourself up. Make sure that your feet are slightly apart, your belly is tight, neck is neutral and shoulders are above your elbows. Hold this pose for one minute. You can also start with less time or add more time depending on your current ability level. Another option would be to drop your knees until you build up strength.
Lower Legs: Ankle ABC’s
- Shin splints are a common ailment for new runners. This is often due to improper footwear, increasing traning load too quickly or simply as a result of your body adjusting to the new load of running. The best part about this exercise is that you can do it anywhere at anytime.
- How-To: While you are sitting, use your feet to write the alphabet in the air by rotating your ankles. This will strengthen the muscles around your ankle and in front of your lower leg to help balance out the powerful calf muscle.
Keeping muscles loose with stretching is important to make a priority after your run. Runner’s World has already put together a great stretching routine for you to view HERE. Yoga is also a great option for runners!
You may also choose to incorporate the use of a “stick” or foam roller (shown below) before and/or after your runs as part of your stretching routine. These tools help stretch your muscles through massage. Check out ways you can use a foam roller HERE.
5. Commonly Asked Questions
Q.) When should I run?
A.) We suggest that you run or work out at a regular time each day. This helps establish your training as part of a daily habit. When it becomes a routine and a more natural part of your day, you will be less likely to brush it off and your body will have a full day to recover before your next workout if you work out/run daily.
If you like to run outdoors, the early mornings are the coolest part of the day during hot summers. By the evening, the asphalt has been baking all day in the sun so it still can be rather warm out. In the winter, the middle part of the day will typically be the warmest, and have the most light. There is an increased risk for slipping with decreased visibility during the early and late hours of the day in the winter.
Q.) How can I stay motivated?
A.) Make it easy on yourself. If you run early in the morning, have all of your clothing and supplies for your workout already set out the night before, or your gym bag packed, to make it easy for you to get going right away.
Another tip would be to set a time to run with a friend. This will hold you accountable to complete your workout.
Q.) What should I wear?
A.) Not only is it important to have moisture managing socks, it is important to have the same wicking properties in your apparel. This will keep you more comfortable when you are running by preventing chafing. It will also keep your body temperature more regulated as you work out by moving the moisture away from your skin. Dress in layers for the option to adjust your comfort easily during a workout.
A great rule of thumb for dressing to run outside: Dress as if you were going outside for the day and it was 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. This is because you will warm up as you run. Also take into consideration other aspects such as time of day, wind strength, precipitation and humidity. By trial and error, you will learn what layers work best for you in different conditions.
Q.) When should I eat or drink before my run?
A.) A suggestion would be to drink 12-16oz of water an hour before you run, and to eat at least 30 to 60 minutes before your workout (this can vary based on the intensity of your workout). This will assure that you have fuel in your body to burn, but wont cause discomfort. As with dressing for your workout, you will learn by trial an error what works best for you when fueling for your workout.
You do want to make sure that what you eat should be light. The wrong foods could cause indigestion. An example from our 5k training expert, Gary – “I like peanut butter on white bread about 30 to 60 minutes before a long slow run. If I am going to the track, I like to eat at least 2 hours before that workout. Eating a burger and fries will not be out of your system and allow for a great workout at least 3 to 4 hours after you eat”
Additionally, remember to refuel 20-30 minutes after your run. It is a crucial window of time to get nutrients back into your body to speed your recovery.
The post workout nutrition should be about a 3 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates and protein to maximize absorption. The protein needs not to only be whey protein, but also casein protein. Whey protein is absorbed and used quickly and casein protein is absorbed and processed slowly.
Chocolate Milk has the correct ratio of carbohydrates to protein as well as a good ratio of whey protein and casein protein.
Q.) How should posture myself as I run?
- Imagine a string is coming straight from the top of your head, encouraging you to stay tall and not run hunched over.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed
- Relax your hands. Do not keep them in fists. Imagine you are holding an ice cream cone.
- Avoid crossing your arms across your chest as you run. This will push and pull your energy side by side instead of focusing it forward.
Pro Tip: Everyone’s gait (running form) is a bit different. When you start running, run the way that is most comfortable to you and then gradually add improvements to your form to improve your efficiency.
We hope this information helps start you off on the right foot towards completing your 5k goal! Do you have further questions about training for a 5k? Please feel free to reach out to Gary at [email protected]