For new runners, 5K is an excellent first goal. It’s a manageable distance, reasonably simple to train for, and really offers a true sense of achievement. Check out these extremely useful tips for those first timers wondering how to train for a 5K.
How To Train for a 5K
Step 1 – Sign Up!
To begin, take the plunge and sign up to a race! You’ve created a clear goal, and have a great motivator with an impending deadline. Now you’ve committed to a race, with a clear starting point and end goal, every session is purposeful and you are less likely to skip training.
You can now start to think of yourself as an athlete, rather than only running for fitness. Fully commit by training properly, eating well, and (most importantly) getting enough sleep.
Step 2 – Run
Next, you’ve got to actually start your 5K training. This may sound overwhelming, but with some preparation you will comfortably find your feet. Avoid overexertion by actually starting your training based on your current fitness level. Running too much too soon is the main reason that new runners quit.
If you are a complete novice, begin your training with mostly walking and short intervals of running. This allows your body and mind time to adjust to this new exercise, and will eventually let you run for longer. Always begin with a brisk warm-up walk of five minutes, and another to cool down once you’ve finished your session.
Try running for 1 minute, followed by 1 minute of power walking for 20 minutes. Progress slowly, including more time running and less walking, building up your stamina session upon session.
There are many 5K plans available to use, their slow progression and moderate pacing allows for easy and steady development, and your body will quickly get used to running for longer and longer periods of time. Focus on going further, rather than faster for the best results.
Remember: don’t run on consecutive days and keep to a moderate pace (i.e. you can still talk comfortably). Mix up your work outs by including body strength training. This will support your body and better develop strength, further improving your form. This also allows you time to recover on days when you don’t run, but still keeps you motivated and fresh.
Step 3 – Prep
Now with a fair few miles under your belt, you need to know some more running essentials. Supportive shoes and suitable socks are a must, unless you enjoy hobbling on blisters. Leave your old cotton socks at home and opt instead for something in Merino or a synthetic mix to help wick away moisture and prevent irritation.
We all know it’s important to stay hydrated, but don’t chug water just before you train or race as it may make you feel nauseous while running. It’s ideal to sip water throughout the day, and it’s fine to have tea or coffee before you run if you know they don’t upset your stomach.
Food wise, there’s no need to carb-load for a race shorter than 90 minutes. Eat something light before you run at least 2 hours before you start off.
Try experimenting with foods while training to see what works best for you, and stick to it on race day. If you are a little peckish on the big day, have a small snack like a banana for an energy boost.
Many new runners feel they “don’t belong”. Training for a 5K is a great way to learn how to run, get back in shape, and earn yourself a pretty cool T-shirt. So stop wondering how to train for a 5K and do it! Soon you’ll accomplish something you never thought possible – and that’s huge.