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How to run a 5k

A 5k is 3.1 miles, it is the shortest distance you can in an organized race, except if you are a kid then you can run a 1k. 5k’s are becoming a very popular event and if you search you can probably find one any time of the year. They are getting very creative in organizing 5k’s they have color 5k’s where spectators throw balloons filled with dye at you, night runs where you wear neon bracelets and it more like a party, they have 5k’s for charity, competitive 5k’s, 5’ks to mainly walk, and many more types of runs. A 5k is just long enough to be challenging but not so long where you have to be in phenomenal shape to run one. If you wish you can walk the entire thing.

If your goal is to run your very first 5k I will give you pointers on how to do it. I will always remember my first 5k, it was a lot of fun and truth be told I was not prepared. During my training I ran all of it on a treadmill, the problem with running solely on a treadmill is you don’t learn how to pace yourself. You push the start button and bump up the speed to a comfortable pace and off you go. When I did the race I started off too fast and hard, by the first mile I was winded and getting tired, so I stopped and walked for a bit. I started running again and because I was not used to pacing myself I ran too fast and too hard, so I had to stop and walk. I ended up finishing with a pretty decent time of 30 minutes but I was gassed.

If you’re going to train on a treadmill that is fine but I highly suggest you get outside and run as well. It’s a whole lot different running outside than it is on a treadmill. You get to breathe the fresh air, check out the scenery, learn to pace yourself, and you never know what you’re going to run into outside.

Building up distance takes time and practice. Maybe you can run for 10 minutes at a time or maybe you can only run for 5 seconds at a time, everyone starts somewhere and there’s nothing wrong with that. Do what you can do and then build from there. I would start with run walk run intervals. Let’s assume you can run for 30 seconds straight. You want to run for 30 seconds and then walk for 2 minutes, you repeat this for 20-30 minutes. Ideally you want to run 3 times a week and you will repeat this cycle for one full week. The following week you bump up your running time to run 45 seconds walk 2 minutes for 20-30 minutes for one full week. Each consecutive week you want to bump up your running time and shorten your walking time. After a while you will want to shift away from running time and start running distances. Run 1 mile and walk for a minute, Run 2 miles and walk for a minute.

Here is a suggested schedule for 2+ months. This is just a guideline and your actual schedule has many variables. For example how long until your race, how long you can run non stop, do you want to get first place in your age group or just finish, your goals, etc etc.

Week 1

Run 30 seconds walk 2 minutes

Continue for 20-30 minutes

Week 2

Run 45 seconds walk 2 minutes

Continue for 20-30 minutes

Week 3 Run 1 minute walk 1 minute 45 seconds

Continue for 20-30 minutes

Week 4 Run 1 minute 30 seconds walk 1 minute 15 seconds

Continue for 20-30 minutes

Week 5 Run 2 minutes walk 1 minute

Continue for 20-30 minutes

Week 6 Run 3 minutes walk 1 minute

Continue for 20-30 minutes

Week 7 Run 4 minutes walk 1 minute

Continue for 20-30 minutes

Week 8 Run 5 minutes walk 1 minute

Continue for 20-30 minutes

Week 9 and above

Run as long as you can and take walking breaks as needed. Start shifting to running distances instead of time. Run 1 miles and then walk for a minute, run 2 miles and then walk for a minute.

Whether this is your first 5k or you have done several of them, just remember to have fun. 5k’s are meant to be fun and social. Sure there are competitive 5k’s for cash prizes and bragging rights but the majority of them are for fun and charities.

Good luck!

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