Preparing to Run Your First 5K

Guest Article by Ronnie Kay

Preparing to run a 5k can give you a great sense of accomplishment.

Not only will you lose weight and get fit, you can join a running group and compete in races frequently.

Many races take place on a regular basis pretty much everywhere around the globe.

The most common beginners' race is the 5 kilometer run.

If you have been running for a while, you may feel that you are ready to run in your first 5k.

Completing the race will be will be another accomplishment to your list, and of course, a moment of pride.

Even though the 5k is considered to be a beginners' race, training well is very important. It’s not the same as going out and jogging for fitness.

You must be prepared if your goal is to successfully complete the race.

Is Running in a Race Different from "Fitness" Running?

couple runningThe answer is yes. When you go out to run or jog for fitness, you are either by yourself, or with a supportive group of friends. There is no one there competing with you.

Any goal you set for your workout is entirely for yourself, and if you don’t achieve it, there are usually no major feelings of failure.

When you are out on a race and preparing to run a 5k, you have a lot more stress to deal with. There will be hundreds or more of other runners, maybe even crowds cheering on their favorite runners. Some people find the competition energizing, while other feel intimidated.

If you don't know yet which of these groups you belong to, you are sure to find out on your first race.

Ever Heard of Athletic Mental Preparation?

Well, athletic mental training is one of the most effective performance-enhancement methods for sports.

As part of preparing to run the 5k, you should get in the habit of imagining yourself running in the race.

When you are out running or jogging for fitness, visualize the others racing with you, the crowds, and the atmosphere.

The more detailed your visualization will be the better. Try to incorporate as many senses as you can - see in your mind's eye the race, hear it, and even try to smell it.

If you stay focused and practice mental training as often as you can, completing the race will become much easier.

When you become accustomed to the presence of others watching you (even if only in your imagination) the anxiety of race day will be relieved.

Remember – it is your race, no one else matters. Don’t lose sleep over who comes in first and who comes in last.

Stick through the race and complete it, and you will feel successful. Compete only against yourself.

Training Schedule-5K Race

Here is a 5 week program that will help you in preparing to run your first 5k race.

Note that some people may take more than 5 weeks to prepare for the race. If you feel that you are unable to keep pace with this program, spread it over a larger period.

Note: 5 kilometers= 3.107 miles, which means a little more than 3 miles.

Week #1: Alternate days running for 30 minutes and walking for 30 minutes. Rest (no training): Friday + Sunday. On Saturday, try to run 2 miles or more.

Week #2: Alternate days walking for 30 minutes and running for 30 minutes. Rest (no training): Friday + Sunday. On Saturday, try to run 3 miles or more.

Week #3: Run for 30 minutes every day, except for Friday and Sunday (rest days). On Saturday, try to run at least 5 miles. Walk only if necessary.

Week #4: Almost there! Alternate days running for 45 minutes and walking for 45 minutes. Rest (no training): Friday + Sunday. On Saturday, try to run a bit more than 3 miles.

Week #5: Rest: Monday + Wednesday + Friday. Run at least 4 miles on Tuesday and Thursday, to adjust mentally and physically to the fact that you can run more than 5k (remember: 5 kilometers= 3.107 miles).

Rest for one day before the race.

During the training and preparing to run the 5k, try to pay attention to your energy levels as a function of what and when you eat. For example:
  • Does eating a meal rich with carbs 3 hours before running give me energy or make me feel heavy?
  • Does eating fruit 30 minutes before training fill me with energy?
  • And so on.
Be sure to drink plenty of water while you train, and especially on the day before the race.

Another recommendation from top athletes when preparing to run a 5k is to eat relatively large amounts of carbs the day before the race.

Good luck, and we'll be happy to hear about your first race experience!

About the Author: Ronnie Kay is the author of the beginners running audio program, Running to Fitness (R2F). She is a certified fitness instructor and a personal trainer, and has been working in the fitness field since 2001.

R2F is a one-stop-shop audio program for running beginners, since it provides motivation, guidance, technique tips, running music with encouraging messages, a mental training session, and much more.

In addition to this advise on preparing to run, check out this article on walking for exercise.

Additional Articles

Biking for Exercise
Biking is another great way to get your workout in while being in the great outdoors. Check out this article to see what you need to do to prepare for biking.

Interval Training
Use your running skills in an interval training workout. This type of exercise combines aerobics with high intensity spurts like running.

Calories Burned During Exercise
When you exercise you are expending energy, or burning calories. Find out how it's calculated with this article.