How to Train for a 5K
- See your doctor. Before doing anything else, it is recommended that you consult a doctor to check your health and mention any concerns you may have. Base the rest of your training off of your ability and stamina.
- Set a goal for yourself. Whether you are running for a specific time or if you just want to finish a race, make sure you set a reasonable goal to go after. This includes signing up for a race to commit yourself to your goal.
- Get the proper gear. Head over to a shoe store and ask for running shoes. You want to find a comfortable pair that offers good support and cushioning. Also make sure there is about an inch of room between your toes and the tips of your shoes to avoid painful injuries when your feet start to swell up.
- Always stretch first. Before any workout it is advised that you stretch to avoid cramping. Before running do about 20 leg swings and 10 walking lunges per leg.
- Start slow. Start with a brisk walk and work into a jog. Alternate between walking and jogging until you feel comfortable to do more jogging. It’s wise to use a timer to keep track of your time while training to see your progress towards your goal.
- Don’t overlook proper nutrition. This can be the difference maker between a successful run and a weakening fatigue. Stay low on the glycemic index to keep your glucose levels steady. Eat many complex carbohydrates including unprocessed fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. See below for nutrition guide.
- Work on endurance. Running a race is all about going the distance. Make sure that in your training you go past the 5K (3.1mi) distance to give yourself a safety net in case you run into unpleasant terrain or weather conditions on race day. If you are getting exhausted while running, feel free to slow your pace for a bit to catch your breath and then try another burst of running. Just keep moving.
- Get help if you need it. Sometimes simply running with a friend can be all the inspiration a person needs to continue to that finish line. Joining a group or running club is another good idea. Other runners may offer you tips that have helped them in their runs.
- Rest and stay hydrated. Resting allows your body to recover so you should rest as much as you run. Give your body time to rest so you can avoid stress related injuries. Drink plenty of water before, during and after each race. Your body will let you know if you are thirsty. For longer workouts, you may want to try a sports drink containing sodium. While running, take small sips whenever you need to drink. This will prevent you from going through your drink too quickly while also keeping you properly hydrated.
- Go out and run. Remember to have fun and go cross that finish line. You’ll be proud of yourself when you do.
5K Nutrition Guide
Your body needs the proper fuel before you run a 5k. The more time there is before the race begins, the more calories you should consume. If you’re eating about one- two hours before your race, consider the following:
- trail mix with dried fruit
- a bagel with peanut butter
- a bowl of cereal with milk
- almond butter/honey/banana roll up
- instant oatmeal
- plain non-fat greek yogurt
- hummus with veggies
If you’re eating approximately 30 minutes before your race, consider the following:
- a piece of toast with jelly
- granola bar
- one serving of cereal and one cup of grapes.
Remember, what your stomach will tolerate will be primarily decided by what you choose to consume. It’s wise to practice race-day foods during training to be sure those food choices work best for you.