Fitness Plan: Run a 5K By SummertimeSetting a specific training goal is a powerful way to increase your motivation and hold yourself accountable for completing your workouts.  If you've started running or even regularly walking this winter, consider adding running a 5K to your summer bucket list.  The distance (just over three miles) is achievable for new runners and gives you the opportunity to try out recreational races and events in running community.  Ready to get started?  Here is some advice to get you started on your training plan.

Pick an Event:

 It seems obvious, but before you jump into your training, find a race that works with your training schedule. You can visit www. active.com  for a schedule of events in your area.  If you've been using your treadmill for running or walking this winter, pick an event that is at least six weeks away to give your body enough time to adjust to the demands of running greater distances outside.  If you are just getting started, give yourself an extra month to build a base of aerobic fitness and to begin tolerating the impact of extended running and walking.  One of the greatest causes of injury and overtraining for new runners is adding mileage on too quickly.   Avoid this by giving yourself sufficient time to build a base of running.

Run for Time rather than Distance:

Once you have your race and know how long you'll need to train, it's easy to find Beginner 5K running plans using a search engine or you can create a customized plan using a running app (see the resources provided below).   Initially, choose a plan that incorporates running for time rather than distance.  Start with workouts of 20 minutes, alternating periods of running and walking.  As you add distance, increase your mileage or time spent running by no more than 10 percent each week.  With a six week training plan, this will give you more than enough time to build a base that makes your 5K distance achievable, while avoiding impact related injuries such as shin splints or stress fractures.  Finally, once a week, schedule a longer run or run/walk that mimics race day.  Ideally, this will take place outdoors and  will be on the same day of the week as your race (probably a Saturday or Sunday), and will give you the chance to try out pre-run nutrition, hydration strategies, and clothing choices letting you work out some of the kinks and nerves surrounding the big day.

Supplement your Running with a Treadmill, Elliptical, or Cycle

While it's important to run outside in order to prepare for the conditions of your 5K, one of the biggest mistakes new runners make is doing too much too soon.  This is likely to get you injured and put your training off schedule.  While your aerobic fitness will increase quickly, your joints, bones, and muscles need time to adjust to the impact and demands of running outside.   You can offset this stress while continuing to train by including lower impact activities in your weekly plan, such as walking or running on a treadmill, using an elliptical trainer, or even scheduling cycling workouts.  By replacing one or more of your training days with these activities, your shins, hips, and low back will all experience less stress as you continue to build your aerobic base.   Ideally, you should maintain 2-3 days of running outside, alternated with 1-2 days of active recovery using your home fitness equipment.  Your final days each week can be spent on complete rest, easy walking, or a recovery activity that does not stress the lower body and strengthens the core, such as rowing,  yoga, or swimming.

Lastly, Recruit Support

With sufficient time, patience, and a strong training plan, running a 5K is an achievable goal for most people.  The public nature of the event and the connection many provide to fundraising, charities, and local communities make accountability and community building an additional benefit.  Once you've signed up, don't be afraid to share your goal on social media, to raise funds for charity, and to share your training plans and successes.  Building accountability will help to keep you on track and increase the benefits of committing to this major training accomplishment! Enjoy your run!

Resources:

To provide a lower impact option for running or for the days that you just can't squeeze in an outdoor run, consider one of our gym-quality treadmills to make your running convenient and fun.  We also offer a wide variety of elliptical machines and indoor cycles!

Gym-quality treadmill           Gym-quality elliptical

There's an app for that! A couch to 5K app for Google or Apple makes training accessible wherever you are! Want more?  Here is some expert advice that covers everything from nutrition to running shoes!