Slacker’s Guide to Running a 5K

Posted: April 27, 2011 in Racing, Slacker's Guide Series, Training
Tags: , , , , ,

So you’ve set your sights on a 5K race. Maybe you got roped into it by your co-workers, you want to participate in a charity event or you’ve been running and want to try your hand at racing. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to run 3.1 miles with lots of other runners and test your mind and body. Congratulations! Now all you need to do is prepare for it.

Here’s a crash course in how to train for your first 5K, so when race day comes, you’ll feel good and have fun without crashing and burning.

Stretch after your runs to keep your muscles from tightening up.

  1. Build up your running base. Give yourself six weeks if you have already started a running program, or eight weeks if you haven’t run since that time someone chased you.
  2. Start slow. Work out for 30-minute sessions five times a week. If you’re not used to running, alternate walking and jogging until you reach 30 minutes. For instance, walk for 5 minutes, run for 3 minutes, walk 5 minutes, run 3, until you hit half an hour. Don’t worry about your running speed at this point.
  3. Keep running. Stick with your routine and gradually add more minutes running until you can run for 30 minutes. If you start out running in 3-minute segments, for instance, add 2 to 3 minutes of running to the segments each week until you hit 30 minutes.
  4. Add speed workouts to your plan after four weeks of steady running. You can do interval training or tempo runs. If you do a tempo run, pace yourself to go at your goal pace for the race. Do a 10-minute slow jog to warm up then run for 1.5 miles at your goal pace and cool down with a 10-minute jog. Do one speed workout per week.
  5. Rest. Give yourself one day off a week so your body and mind can recover from training. If you don’t rest, you’ll be more likely to get injuries and burn out on training.
  6. Cross train. Set aside one day a week to do a different exercise that you enjoy — whether it’s cycling, tennis, basketball or dance. Working different muscle groups will help you get in better shape and give your body a break from running.
  7. Taper before race day. Tapering means to cut back on your workouts so your body will be fresh and rested on the day of the event. Give yourself a day of rest before the race, and two days before the race do a light, slow run of a mile to loosen up your muscles.
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Comments
  1. Amanda says:

    I am just getting started on training for my first 5k. I don’t think I will be able to do that much running, but I am sure going to try. Now, I just need to find others to train with.

    • Marnie says:

      Congrats on training for a 5K! Check with your local track club for running groups in your area or look on Meetup.com. Also ask around with your friends and co-workers, maybe someone you know wants to start running to. Good luck to you!

  2. I’m accidently already doing most of these suggestions – glad to know I’m doing something right!!!

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