Even if you haven’t exercised in years, you can run your first 5k by May with a little dedication and hard work. It is a good goal to have, especially if you have thought about running and just haven’t taken the time or given the energy to the task. Where do you start? Assuming your doctor is ok with your new goal, follow these steps:
- Get a good pair of running shoes
Having proper running shoes will help prevent injury and onset muscle soreness versus running in regular tennis shoes or shoes that aren’t built for running. Some stores can even fit you to a shoe based on your running style! Make sure to do your research.
- Find a place to train for your 5K
There are many options: Head to your local gym or rec center, use your own treadmill, or provided the weather is nice, you can head outside. Bear in mind that training for a 5k when you are deconditioned can be a daunting task and that if you decide to train on a treadmill know that you will have to work up to running outside before you run your 5k. When you run outside you do not have the momentum of the belt to help you. You can help negate this by running on the treadmill with a 1% incline.
- The most effective way to train from no experience is with interval training
Interval training consists of walking, jogging, or running at a moderate pace and then after a set period of time you switch to walking, jogging, or running at a fast pace and repeat for 20-30 minutes including a five minute warm-up and cool-down is recommended. During your cool-down make sure to take the time to stretch while your body is warm and limber. Stretching helps you to retain the range of motion in your joints; this in turn can help you with your running form.
Since you’re just getting started you’ll want to start out slowly with a moderate and fast walking pace for your intervals. Start out with small intervals; example: 60 seconds of moderate walking followed by 90 seconds of fast walking and repeat. As you find these intervals getting easier, increase the time of each stage slightly to make them more challenging; example 90 seconds of moderate walking followed by 2 minutes of fast walking.
Continue to increase the time of each stage till you are walking fast more often than you are walking slowly. If you find this too easy, you can make fast walking your slow phase and start jogging for you fast phase and then once these are easy you can switch to jogging for your slow phase and running for your fast phase.
Regardless of if you are fast walking or running during your fast phase make sure that you are pushing yourself hard. You should be breathing harder and have difficulty speaking more than a few words.
With time, effort, and dedication you will go from having short intervals, to long intervals, to running the whole time. Wanting to run is a wonderful goal that can be reached if you put your mind to it and dedicate the time to it and before you know it you’ll be running in your first 5k! Stick with it, you can do it!
Contributors: Kim Farmer and Michelle Beachem of Mile High Fitness. Mile High Fitness offers in-home personal training and corporate fitness solutions. Visit www.milehighfitness.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org