Getting Ready for a 5K Run

Getting Ready for a 5K Run. A Beginner’s Guide

Getting ready for a 5K run can be challenging, especially when you are a beginner or when you want to return to running after a long time. It can also be overwhelming when you think that a 5K run is 3.1 miles (or 5 kilometres). But it’s not about the distance, it’s about a new challenge and having fun.

In this blog article, I will give you the basic steps you require to get ready for a 5K run, from tips on how to avoid getting injured to how to plan your training.

What you can do before the 5K run

Get ready for training

First of all, you need some good gear and clothes to be able to run. Go to one of your local sports store and get proper clothing and running shoes. Make sure you get clothes for sunny and rainy days; get a few pair of socks that are good moisture absorbent, to avoid blisters; and find a comfortable pair of running shoes.

Warm-up before training

To avoid injuries, you should warm-up before you even start running. Start with a dynamic warm-up, which are mainly stretch exercise while you move. These will enhance muscular performance and will increase your flexibility. You can include in your warm-up routine lunges with a twist, high kicks, knee to chest exercises, jump squats, hip stretch with a twist.

Plan your training

Don’t start by focusing on speed, try to find a pace that is comfortable for you and slowly increase the duration and effort. Also, it is important to include walking into your training. A combo of running and walking will help you build endurance.  So, start by running and walking slowly until your body is adjusting and gradually increase speed and distance. Here is a training schedule to help you plan your training.

Improve your strength

Beginners should consider including at least one strength workout per week. You can choose to go for a core routine where you work out your glutes, hips, hamstrings and back. Or, you can include a speed running day into your training. suggests “running 5 to 10 x 1 minute at 5K effort with a 2-minute recovery after each 1 minute hard”. Gradually increase the time from 1 minute in the first week, to 2 minutes in the second week and so on.
If running at your own pace means that you should be able to talk while running and you are not feeling like you are out of breath, a 5K effort is the effort you can endure during a 5K run.

Recover after training

Make sure you stretch after running to avoid any injuries. While you run, you are working out your hamstrings, hips, calves and quads, but you also put tension on those areas. Go for static stretches and hold each exercise for 30 seconds, to release tension in the muscles and improve flexibility. Also in the beginning try to rest for 2 days/ week, thus allowing your muscles to recover. Over time when you feel you up to, switch the second resting day for a walking day. 

Get yourself motivated

Sign up for a 5K run in advance to motivate you to start your running routine. Now that you have signed up, plan your training using a 5K training programme, like the one I have suggested above. Having a plan in place you will be more motivated to start your routine.
You should also set your own personal goal for the 5K run. Don’t worry about being last or about how everyone else will perform on the day. You should only think about what you can achieve in terms of speed and time without getting injured and while having some fun as well.

Tips for the 5K run day

You have trained, you feel you are in good shape and you are ready for the 5K. As this day can be scary and exciting as well, there are a few tips and tricks you can follow to make the experience enjoyable:
  • Rest well for at least 3 nights before the race to be in good shape on the day
  • Eat a simple and easy to digest breakfast, 2 hours before the race, to give you the energy you need
  • Don’t forget to hydrate yourself for an improved performance. Read my “Top 5 benefits of drinking water” article to find out how water can influence your physical performance.
  • The week before the race keep your running routine light. 2 to 3 short runs should be enough and on the day before the 5K run go for a short and faster 20 minutes’ race.
  • On the race morning, you should arrive at the location 1hour before the race starts. This will give you enough time to find parking, pick up the race pack, warm up for 25 minutes and use the restroom if necessary
  • Try to place yourself in the middle back at the start line, as this is where you will find most of the runners who are beginners. Hence you will run with people that have more or less the same pace you do and you will get motivated by the people in front of you
  • Never compare yourself with anyone else around you at the race. This is your own challenge and you should stick to your own goals so that your experience is more enjoyable. 
  • You will probably hear during the race a voice in your head asking you to quit or slow down. It’s normal, especially when the race is getting tough. Find a positive thought to help you pass through this situation and practice this during your running routine so this becomes a habit during the run. 
  • Most important have fun and enjoy your first 5K experience
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