If you’ve never done a 5K or 10K, you probably think one of two things: either you can phone it in, and your gym fitness will carry you through; or it's an impossible, masochistic goal. True, competitive running can put you through the wringer if you're not careful, but anyone can do it if they approach it methodically. You'll end up stronger and fitter, with a new respect for men or women in split shorts. I mean personally only just get into running 8 months, where I start to do 5 and 10ks to raise money different charities, my plan is to do 12 runs as minimum this year which is 1 per month, I have come a far way since my first run in January 2019. In this blog through research and personal experience, I am going to break down for you how you can transform yourself in a good 5k or perhaps 10k runner.
1. Know the Basics
Before you sign up, know what you're getting into. Five kilometres equals 3.1 miles. If you can run 30 minutes on the treadmill, it's likely that you can run a 5K with little preparation. On the other hand, if half an hour of treadmill jogging sounds like a death march, you have some work to do.
2. Know the Basics? Then Sign Up!
Race sign-ups are everywhere. Find events through your gym or local YMCA, plus these days they are all over the internet, or stop into a running store and ask the employees what's coming up. Pick a race that gives you enough time to train: 8-10 weeks if you're starting from scratch. Find out what the course is like—flat or hilly, pavement or trail—so you'll know how to prepare.
If you choose a flat, paved course, your main task is making sure you're acclimated to the distance and the impact of pavement, which is harder on your body than treadmills or trails. A trail race will give you a softer surface that's easier on your joints, but if it includes hills, you'll need to start running on an incline, so you don't wreck your calves or hyperventilate during the race.
Once you find your race, fork over the money and put it on your calendar so you don't punk out. In fact, do more than put it on your calendar. Post the date on your refrigerator. Write it on your bathroom mirror. Program it into your phone. If you do the work, it'll be a breeze. If you blow off a bunch of runs, you'll suffer.
3. Wear the Right Shoes
Lifting involves a lot of equipment: weights, kettlebells, bands, and racks. Running requires only one thing: a good pair of shoes. That one thing is crucial. Your shoes affect how you stand, stride, and land. Running in bad shoes is like lifting with bad form. To prevent injury, wear a good pair.
Go to a legit running specialty store to get fitted. The salesperson should ask you questions, watch you run, and find the right kind of support for your individual biomechanics. If they don't seem like they know what they're talking about, go somewhere else.
Factors such as what part of your foot you land on, how injury-prone you are, and how heavy you are can influence the type of shoe you need. And remember, one pair doesn't last forever, especially if you're logging the miles. Replace your shoes about every 500 miles max, or when they start to feel flat or hurt your feet.
If you do purchase new shoes, give yourself enough time to break them in and become used to them before the race. Running a 5K in brand-new, untested shoes is a sure-fire recipe for pain or injury.
4. Create A Plan
Running is strong medicine, so ease in. Would you advise your friend who's never lifted anything other than a pint glass to walk into the gym and start throwing plates on the bar? Didn't think so.
With running, you've got to build a base, just as you do with lifting. Find a training plan geared toward your level of running fitness. A typical program length for a 5K is around 8 weeks, so count back from race day to see when you need to start training. You can find all kinds of training plans online, but one of the best for total newbs is a free mobile app called Couch to 5K (C25K), which you can get for both iPhone and Android.
C25K is a smart, gradual program that will get you race-ready in nine weeks. It takes the guesswork out of training, so you can't progress too fast and hurt yourself, which is surprisingly easy to do without a plan.
If you already run occasionally on the treadmill, slowly work up to running 30 minutes three times a week. Start doing at least one session on a route that mimics the surface and terrain of your race to avoid surprises.
5. Get Loose
Warm up before every run. This can be flexible—a handful of lunges, a few minutes of walking, or even your weight-training session. Just don't jump out of bed and sprint down the street. Maybe Rocky can wake up, slam a bunch of raw eggs, and run out his front door, but that doesn't mean you should.
Also, don't let miles logged replace your weight training. Weight training is important for runners.
At the most basic level, nutrition is important when preparing for a race, because it provides a source of energy required to perform the activity. The food we eat impacts on our strength, training, performance and recovery. Not only is the type of food important for sports nutrition but the times we eat throughout the day also has an impact on our performance levels and our bodies ability to recover after exercising.
Meals eaten before and after exercise are the most important in sports nutrition, but you should really be careful with everything that you put into your body. As a rule of thumb athletes or runners should eat about two hours before exercising and this meal should be high in carbohydrates, low in fat and low to moderate in protein. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy that powers your exercise regime and protein is required to aid muscle growth and repair. After exercising you need to replace the carbohydrates you have lost, and you need to ensure proper muscle recovery by including protein in your post training meal.
The proportions of protein and carbohydrates that you require will vary depending on both the intensity and type of sport so to get your individual balance right you should contact a qualified dietitian for professional help with your sports nutrition. Our expert dietitians can help all level athletes to achieve optimal sports nutrition in order to meet their performance goals.
7. Get Motivated
Running sucks. It's uncomfortable, hard, and boring. Weather is unpredictable and can make running even harder than it already is. No matter the excuse, one thing's for sure: If you don't find a way to love it, you're not going to stick with the plan.
Get the right gear so you don't hate life as soon as you step outside. Your gym clothes are fine if it's warm outside, but lightweight jacket and fleece-lined tights (it's OK to wear shorts over them) are key in cold climates. Wear pieces that are made for being active, with technical fabrics that wick sweat, regulate temperature, repel precipitation, and keep you smelling as fresh as a spring daisy.
8. Don't Overthink It
Forget about setting a finishing-time goal. You won't have a baseline for what your fastest is, and your body isn't adequately adapted to the stresses of running to withstand gruelling speed workouts.
Plus, just because you managed an 8-minute mile on the treadmill doesn't guarantee you'll be able to repeat that performance during the race, you can either go faster or slower, it’s all down to what happens, on the day. Variables like terrain, weather, running earlier than you're used to, or what the other racers are doing around you can all affect your performance. EG. I recently ran a 10km run, for cancer research I was aiming for mid-forties, but on the race the terrain was rough with grass I end up doing 52 minutes even though in the gym on the treadmill I was his 45 to 46 minutes.
Creating an arbitrary goal just sets you up for disappointment, when you should be proud that you're accomplishing something new. Focus on completing the race. Most people can run a 5K in about 30 minutes, give or take a few. When you train, ignore distance and pace, and just work on being able to run for that long.
Other things you don't need: A hydration belt. Energy gels. A GPS watches. Your phone. You can live without it for half an hour, I promise. These things may be needed during a long training run or on an unfamiliar trail, but a half-hour run isn't long enough to require refuelling before you finish. The stats that a fancy watch provides can be fun, but at this level it's unnecessary. Bring your phone if you use it to follow a training app, but also consider memorizing the workout and leaving it at home. You'll love how light and free you feel.
Once you have your race date, your training plan, your shoes, and your tunes, there really isn't much to think about. You can turn your brain off, turn the music on, and go for it. In a few weeks, you'll be queued up at the starting line like you totally know what you're doing. And you'll crush it.
This blog is updated by Tranquillity 360 fitness personal trainers, as well as other guest bloggers.