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A Beginners Guide To Running a 5K

By Edited Oct 14, 2016 3 9

How Anyone Can Run a 5K and Survive

5k's have gained a lot of attention in the fitness world lately. Whether you want to run a 5k to gain awareness for an issue, lose weight, get fit, or challenge yourself; running a 5k will be easier than you think. Running five kilometers or 3.1 miles can be very intimidating for people who have never run a mile but through good training programs and willpower anyone can run a 5k that can walk for thirty minutes straight. Follow these simple steps and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment and pride after completing your first race.

Decide Why & Make Up Your Mind
Woman Running 5k

Are you passionate about bringing awareness to breast cancer? Would you like motivation to lose some extra pounds or challenge yourself to try something new? Is running a 5k on your bucket list? Make sure you decide why you want to run in a 5k and use this as motivation all throughout your training and run. Once you make up your mind move forward and don't look back.

Find A Race

With the use of the Internet, finding a race in your area is simple. Check out Runner's World to search for all different races including 5ks in your area. Another good place to find out about local races is your city running club, running store, or chamber of commerce. Make sure to give yourself enough time to train and take in account the price of the race, the day of the week, and the season. Most common 5ks are held in the fall and summer. Races range from extravagant to low-key and the price to participate follows suit. Make sure to commit to the race and register as many sell out and having paid will keep you motivated.

Evaluate Your Resources

After registering for your race evaluate your resources. Do you have a safe area to train outside or do you have access to an indoor treadmill? Also check out your local running clubs and gyms to see if there are any running groups that can help you stay motivated. If you begin training in January you may need to invest in all-weather running gear or plan on training indoors either at an indoor track or treadmill. It is also important to get fitted for good running shoes to prevent injury. You can get fitted and purchase shoes at many running stores but the leading brands are ASICS, New Balance, Nike, Saucony, and Adidas.

Woman Running 5k White Outfit
Find A Good Training Program

The key to running a 5k for the first time is sticking with a good program. Luckily there are many free programs out there for beginners. When looking for a program consider your fitness level and running background. Many people who have never ran like the Couch-to-5k running  program. My favorite program is offered by Sparkpeople.com and it is called the 5k Your Way Rookie Running Training Program.This program is designed for anyone who wants to run a 5k in eight weeks. It's guaranteed for anyone who can walk for 25 minutes straight. The program is three times a week with cross training or rest days in between. Other programs on Sparkpeople.com include the 5k Your Way Walk/Jog Plan and the 5k Your Way Running Plan which is designed for regular runners. If you have the resources you can also hire a personal trainer in your area to work with you and help you train for your first race.

Grab Others, Make It Known & Stick To It

Now that you're signed up for a race and are training make it known! The more hype you create around the event the more others will want to join you. If you are a beginner it is important to keep your motivation high. Remind yourself and others about the race and train together. Can't find anyone to join you? There are many runner's websites out there to get support from. Runner's World has many forums, articles, and tips to keep you excited about your 5k. Another way to stick with it is to print your training schedule and place it somewhere you will see it everyday. As you get closer to the race, invite others to come and cheer you on and wait at the finish line.

Get Ready For The Big Day

Prepare for you race day by setting out your clothes, racing bib and everything else you will need the night before. Pack a change of clothes and make sure to check directions, times, parking, and further instructions. Most suggest eating a small but nutritious breakfast and making sure you're hydrated. If it's your first 5k you may want to bring a water bottle but for most the two to three hydration stations will be enough. In the days leading up to the race eat nutritious food and get adequate rest.

Run Your First 5K!

Run your first 5k! Run your 5k and congratulate yourself on your achievement. Before you know it you will be looking for another 5k or training for a 10k or half marathon. Be proud of yourself, eat and take a well-deserved nap!



Feb 17, 2012 8:44pm
I liked your article Tiffany! It reminded me when I started training for my first 5K back in 2005. I used the Couch-to-5K method and it was really good in getting me used to running longer distances everytime. It was a wonderful experience and a sense of achievement when I completed my first 5K at Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure. I would recommend it to anyone and even more when it is for a good cause.
Feb 21, 2012 8:19pm
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Feb 21, 2012 8:19pm
Thanks so much @BoricuaWriter! I really appreciate it!

I actually will be running in my first one in May! Capital City 5k in Columbus, Ohio!
Feb 17, 2012 9:33pm
Great article Tiffany. I've been wanting to do this for ages and somehow I just never seem to find the time or energy to train but I think I am going to give it another shot!
Feb 21, 2012 8:19pm
Oh WOW! I'm so excited that you're giving it another go! Best of luck and glad to have helped you!
Feb 21, 2012 8:19pm
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Feb 19, 2012 5:28pm
Great article and well done on the feature. I NEED the couch to 5 k method, as I use to be really fit and the last baby left me a blob of mess.
Feb 21, 2012 8:20pm
Thanks a lot. I'm really humbled! I'm so happy people are enjoying the article-It helps to grab a friend too-perhaps a girlfriend whose had a baby herself? I usually drag my husband off the computer and we jog together! or some good tunes!
Feb 21, 2012 8:21pm
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Feb 21, 2012 8:21pm
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Feb 21, 2012 3:31am
If you live in London there are 5K races every Saturday in Richmond and Wimbledon; it is a great way to keep you fit and motivated as you can normally do it with your friends or family and the best part is that it is completely free!
Feb 21, 2012 8:21pm
Free??? Awesome! Thanks for sharing.
Aug 8, 2013 8:16pm
The 5k is an excellent race for beginners. These are usually really fun and laid back experiences; most of the time attached to a great cause too!
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