For any level of runner, a 5K is a great way to get involved in local running events. If you are a complete novice to running the 5K is a really achievable goal and the perfect stepping stone for moving on to bigger challenges. As with any fitness goal, it’s a good idea to have a plan from the beginning, so be sure to give yourself enough time to train – here’s some guidance to help build the speed and endurance you’ll need for this challenge.
Although you’re preparing for a 5k, don’t fix that distance in your head to reach each time you work out. Its important to include other distances too; running longer than 5k will help improve your cardiovascular endurance whereas shorter, faster distances will help you build your muscle strength. Inject some other exercises in too like squats and lunges – not only will this make your training more varied and interesting; it will help with building your muscle strength in your legs. Its important to start gradually and allow yourself adequate rest days, overdoing it could lead to an injury and undo all the hard work you’ve put in so far. Incorporate one rest day in between each run and be sure to visit your GP if you find yourself in real pain or prolonged discomfort.
If you are new to the running scene, make sure to invest in a decent pair of running shoes. With all the choice online, this in itself can be a workout! The best thing to do is to go into a sports store and ask for assistance, running shoes can be expensive so you want to know you’re getting the right shoes for you that work for your individual arch and stride. Wear these shoes only when training to avoid wearing them out unnecessarily. While you’re at the shop do yourself a favour and invest in a good pair of socks too – your feet will thank you later!
Before your training you should warm up – it’s a super important part of your work out, as is the cool down, so make sure you factor both in. Your warm up should include some light aerobic exercise to loosen up your muscles and dynamic stretching, like lunges, leg swings or toe touches. Check out our previous blog for cool down techniques.
If this is your first experience of running, check out the NHS couch to 5k website for a 9-week tried and tested plan for beginners with the end goal of being able to run 5k continuously without stopping. It’s not to say 9 weeks is set in stone, if you need to repeat a week that’s all good. If you’re tech savvy they have an app and podcasts you can download with a week by week guide for training. There’s even the option to be coached by celebrities – feel like a professional athlete with Michael Johnson’s voice cheering you on!
Start off by walking and if you are feeling up to it sprinkle in some short distances of running. Start with 30 secs – one minute of running and follow with at least double the time power-walking or until you catch your breath. Progress incrementally, adding more running to the mix and less walking. The point of the couch to 5k is its gradual so be patient and go easy on yourself. It’s important to not stress about speed – the goal is to run 5k, not beat Mo Farah’s record. At the beginning of your training you should go at a speed you feel comfortable, once you are able to run the full distance confidently then you are in a position to work on improving your time. Pay attention to your breathing – if you can talk while you are running then your pace is right but if you are gasping then reign it in and give yourself some time to recover.
To keep motivated check out your local running club or register yourself for a 5k event so you have a date to train towards. If you are not confident in running outdoors or at the gym then there is the option to invest in a good quality treadmill for home. We have a great selection of reconditioned treadmills, feel free to call us for guidance. If you have already signed up to a 5k before reading this then good luck! You’ve got this.