Tips for Running Your First 5K
Padres Pedal the Cause is proud to offer different ways for anyone to participate in our event and raise money for a world without cancer. As passionate as we are about cycling, we know that plenty of other people are equally passionate about running or walking. So we created the Padres Pedal 5K run/walk which offers a new opportunity for participants to challenge themselves and take part in the Padres Pedal event, regardless of whether or not they can ride a bike.
Still, taking on a 5K is no small feat, and if you’re running a 5K for the first time, it can feel a little intimidating. We believe you can do it, so here are some tips to make running your first 5K feel a bit more manageable.
How to Train for Your First 5K.
When you’re first getting started, running is hard! A lot of people quit early on because they don’t have the support they need to keep going. Ask friends who run for advice on favorite gear and routes, and ask about their early running stories for inspiration.
No one becomes a runner overnight, and it’s important to take your time building up speed and distances so you don’t become discouraged or injure yourself. Start from your current fitness level and build from there. If you’re starting from scratch (i.e. you don’t currently exercise), start by walking 20 minutes a day. Eventually, you’ll walk for 30 minutes with short bursts of running every 5 minutes or so. As that gets easier, increase your running time and intersperse it between shorter bouts of walking.
Warm Up and Cool Down
Allow your body to warm up fully and cool down properly by starting and ending your runs with walking. When you’re first starting, the periods of walking will be longer, but as you build your strength and endurance, you’ll be able to cut it down to 5 minutes of walking to warm up and just a few minutes walking to cool down.
Don’t Overdo It
It’s easy to do too much when you’re seeing your endurance improve, but that’s when injuries can happen. Stick to 3 runs per week, and alternate your running days with walking days, or low impact cross-training activities like yoga or swimming. This gives your body a chance to adapt to your new activity and recover properly before your next run.
Focus on Distance Over Intensity
Don’t be tempted to go faster and push yourself too far when you’re training. The training process should focus on building strength and endurance, so work on running a bit more each day rather than focusing on how fast you’re running. Speed will come later. As you build endurance, you’ll know you’re at the right pace when you can still talk while running. If you’re so winded you can’t talk, slow down.
Take Care of Your Body
If your body isn’t rebounding as quickly between runs, take an extra rest day so you can fully recover. You should expect some soreness, but if you’re in actual pain, you need to rest. Regardless of whether or not you’re recovering, make sure you’re also stretching, staying hydrated, eating balanced meals, and getting enough sleep so your body has the resources it needs to adjust to your new running routine.
When you first start running and establishing a routine, it can be difficult to stay motivated. Your muscles will be sore, some days will feel especially hard, and you may lack enthusiasm when facing your next run. It’s not uncommon to feel fear and face self-criticism when you’re trying something new and challenging. Combat that little voice that stops you from working on something that’s difficult and try these tips to find your inspiration to keep going.
Join a Running Group
A running group gives you an established workout schedule, so you know exactly when your next run will be. It also gives you more accountability since your group will be expecting you to show up. Members of your running group will encourage you and help you find the motivation to keep running when you’re struggling. They can cheer you on and give you ideas for how to improve your skills. Finally, a running group not only gives you a community, which improves your running experience but can also improve your life overall.
Try Retail Therapy
Picking up a new pair of running shoes or the latest gadget, like a cool speed-distance monitor, can help you maintain that feeling of excitement for your next run. You won’t be able to do this frequently, of course, but if you find yourself in a rut and dreading your next run, a new pair of running tights might be the ticket to get you back on the road.
Explore New Routes
If you’re getting bored or just aren’t enjoying your runs, try varying your running routes. You may find that you especially enjoy trail running, or running near the water. Ask running buddies about their favorite routes and try exploring with them. Sometimes, it really is all about location.
Create Your Own Soundtrack
There’s nothing more motivating than the perfect playlist. Put together a list of songs that gives you energy and helps you stay pumped up through your whole workout. The right music can keep you going when the going gets tough.
Understand Your Style
Style is personal, and that holds true when it comes to fashion, design, and even exercise. Find your personal running style to help you really enjoy your workouts. That may mean slower speeds and longer distances, or shorter runs at quicker speeds. When you’re looking for running groups, take your running style into account. If you’re brand new to running and aren’t sure what your style is, take notice of what feels good when it comes to speed and distance and go with that pace. If you feel miserable, change your running style.
Becoming a runner is, coincidentally, a marathon and not a sprint. Learning how to pace yourself and find your stride takes time, and some days will be hard. Be patient with yourself and know that it gets better as you learn and improve. If you’ve had a bad run and don’t feel great about it, give yourself credit for having run at all and remember that it gets easier the more you run. Let yourself have a hard day, and then move on.
Finding Your Training Plan
Choosing a training plan can be overwhelming if you’re new to running. Luckily, Padres Pedal the Cause has created a 6 Week training plan to get you ready for your first 5K. We’ve set up our training plan to prepare you for our 5K run/walk at our fundraising event in November, but you could certainly use this plan to prepare any time you sign up for a 5K. We incorporated the recommended mix of walking and running, and separated each week’s training schedule into 3 days, allowing you to get the rest you need to recover between runs. If the Padres Pedal 5K will be your first, we are so excited to welcome you, and we are confident that our training plan will have you set up to succeed.
There are other training plans out there, so as long as you know how much time you have to train before your 5K, you can do your research and see which plans appeal to you. These are some other options you could consider or look at for additional inspiration in conjunction with Padres Pedal’s training plan.
- Couch to 5K: The two-month Couch to 5K training program is popular for beginners, because it assumes that you’re starting with no experience and plenty of couch time.
- 7 Week Training Plan for Beginners: This training schedule incorporates the recommended mix of running, walking and resting like the Padres Pedal plan.
- Training for a 5K in 2 Weeks: This training plan isn’t for people who’ve never run before, but if you’ve never trained for a 5K before and want to be ready quickly, this training plan gets you ready fast.
No matter which plan you use, make sure you listen to your body and don’t push it to the point of injury. Take your time, build your strength, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you see a difference in your endurance.
If you’re looking for the right 5K for you, the Padres Pedal the Cause 5K run/walk is a great choice! Our event is fun and family-friendly, and you’ll be working to raise vital funds for life-saving cancer research projects. If you’re preparing to sign up for your first 5K, why not make it a 5K that could help create a world without cancer? We’d love to have you join us, and we promise it will be an incredible experience. Learn more about the impact Padres Pedal has already made in the fight against cancer, and discover how you can join us for your first 5K today.