Training for a 5K the Easy Way

All it takes for some people is a 5K run. They get bitten by the running bug and then they’re off, competing in races until they achieve what becomes their ultimate goal.

Some people take up running to lose weight and get fit; others do it after committing to raising funds for charity by taking part in an organized race. Whatever the reason to take up running, it's great exercise and one that's convenient and easy to do; apart from a pair of good running shoes, there's little needed in the way of equipment. And providing you have access to somewhere to run, you don't have to fit your running in with your local fitness center's operating schedule. Just open your back door, step outside, and do it.

However, for some people it's not always as easy as that. Because while they may want to compete in a 5K run for whatever reason, they could very well be put off by what they've heard is necessary in respect of training. It's difficult for many a novice runner to see how complicated spreadsheets and color-coded graphs are necessary to do something as simple as putting one foot in front of the other and repeating. The truth of the matter is that spreadsheets aren't necessary for training for a race. It is possible to run and train for a 5K run, and even a 10K run, without the need for a training schedule; however, it's highly unlikely that anyone would be able to run either of these two distances relatively comfortably without the need of training. So while you may not need a spreadsheet to help you complete a 5K race, you will certainly need to do the training!

When training for a 5K or 10K race, accept that you will need to run a certain number of miles/hours per week, and, although you don't need to actually set your schedule out on paper or a computer screen, you should at least have an idea of when you are going to train. For example, look at your coming week and set aside time during the day or evening for when you will be able to get out and run. Try to stick to this schedule. If you can't make one session, don't cancel it, merely move it to a more convenient time.

The most difficult part of training is actually getting out the door. Once you're out and warming up the rest is relatively simple. Therefore, make taking that step outside as easy and convenient as possible. Get your running shoes and kit all ready to slip on when the time comes. Don't give yourself any excuses to put off your training session; no having to spend time finding your favorite running shorts, for example.

Once you're out, warm up by walking to a designated starting point. Then start off jogging at a comfortable pace. For a 5K race you need to train no more than for 30 minutes four times a week. You don't need to run for hours for a 5K race (it's not even necessary for a 10K race). Stick to running (or jogging) for 30 minutes and don't worry if you can't jog for the entire period: (If you're new to running, you probably won't.) Intersperse your jogging with walking and increase the time you're actually jogging over the coming weeks until you're jogging the complete 30 minutes. Don't be too impatient to be moving from what you consider jogging to running; it's more important that you jog for longer than you walk, not that you jog fast enough to be running. And try not to worry if you feel that you're not making progress. It can sometimes be the case that for a few sessions you won't notice any improvement, but then you'll go out and find that you're cruising along with no problem.

If you enjoy exercising with friends but don't have any that run, consider joining a running club. This is not only a great way to meet fellow runners, but it may also help you improve your running technique if there are more experienced runners there who can offer you advice. In addition, if you are struggling to increase the time for which you are running without stopping, the encouragement you will receive from others could be just what you need to get past this stumbling block.

If you're training for your first race, don't worry about setting yourself a time in which to complete it. For many people, just getting around the course is enough. And once you have finished, take your time to savor the immense sense of achievement you'll get after crossing the finishing line. You may very well have been bitten by the running bug at this stage and your only thoughts will be which race to enter for next!

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