Even though you may be a beginning runner, you can comfortably run a 5K with just a little planning and preparation. To begin, you want to devise an easy and simple to follow five-week plan that will allow you to slowly build your endurance in preparation for the big day.
If you have never run before, you should prepare yourself for several weeks prior to starting a running program. For 2 to 3 weeks, you should walk or slowly jog every day until you can comfortably run for 10 consecutive minutes.
Preparing for your First 5K
To set up and utilize an effective training program, schedule time for both running days and cross training days. You should not run on consecutive days and not exert yourself so much that you are unable to speak.
For example, you should run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday, you should cross train by swimming, biking, walking briskly for participating in a fitness class at your local gym. Use the following five-week plan as an example and adjust it to fit your preferences and schedule:
* Week 1 : Run 1.5 miles on Monday and Wednesday, and 2 miles on Friday. Swim on Tuesday and ride your bike on Thursday.
* Week 2: Run 2 miles on Monday and Wednesday, and 2.5 miles on Friday. Take a kickboxing class on Tuesday and walk briskly on Thursday.
* Week 3: Run 2 miles on Monday, 2.5 miles on Wednesday, and 3 miles on Friday. Walk briskly on Tuesday and take a yoga class on Thursday.
* Week 4: Run 2.5 miles on Monday and Wednesday, and 3 miles on Friday. Ride your bike on Tuesday and take a high intensity cardio class on Thursday.
* Week 5: Run 2.5 miles on Monday and Wednesday, and 3 miles on Friday. Walk briskly on Tuesday and ride your bike on Thursday.
Prepping for your First Race Day
You have trained hard, and now the big day is finally here. The following hints and tips will help it to go smoothly.
* Perform a drill: The day before the race, lay out the clothing you are planning to wear. This includes shoes, bib number, timing device, or anything else you are planning to wear. This makes getting ready for the actual race a breeze. Drive to the race site to make sure you understand the directions on how to get there and to recognize any traffic patterns that may cause a delay the next day.
* Arrive early: Make sure you arrive early enough to be able to make a bathroom stop if need be, and familiarize yourself with the surroundings. Make sure you know where the starting/finishing area is.
* Pick your mark: Unless you are a professional athlete, you should scout the other runners and pick a few that have a body type similar to your own. You want to start your race in their general vicinity. If you start out the race too close to the starting line, you may be so focused on keeping up with the other runners’ pace you’ll run out of steam quickly.
* Focus: Focus on your own body, form and breathing. Do not focus on the other runners. It is much easier to break the race down into 4 mini-races in your mind than to focus on the entire race. For example, focus on running the entire 1st mile, then the 2nd and 3rd and finally, the last 0.10 miles. After completing each mile, give yourself a pat on the back. These small victories will help give you the drive you need to complete the rest of the race.
Sources: The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide to Marathon & Half-Marathon Training, Runner’s World, Marathoning for Mortals