5K Training Tips

If you’ve never been a runner, completing a 5K might seem out of reach. But, with the right practice, you may find that training is easier than you thought, and it can be fun too.

Take it Easy
Don’t advance or increase your mileage, terrain, or running form by over 10% per week. Pushing yourself too hard can result in injury. Remember – slow and steady wins the race. Give yourself 8 weeks to go from walking to running.

Walk, Then Run
Start with a 5 minute brisk walk to warm up. Begin running for 30-60 seconds, followed by a 2-3 minute walk. Gradually increase running time and/or decrease walking time. End with a 5 minute walk to cool down, followed by some gentle stretching. Progressively increase your total time. For example, start with a total of 15 minutes and work your way up to 40 minutes. 

Know Proper Form
Shorter steps with a “soft” foot strike will result in less fatigue and a more efficient run pattern. The ideal range is 170-190 steps per minute. Try counting as you begin to run.

Stretch Those Muscles
Do a slow 5-10 minute warm up, then stretch prior to your workout. Stretch again after a 5 minute cool down. You can choose to do either a traditional (static) form of stretching or a dynamic stretch. Static stretching involves holding the joint or muscle in a position that is minimally challenging for 30-60 seconds. This method is designed to relax the body part that is being stretched, allowing it to go further on its own.

Dynamic stretches involve continuous movement through the exercise in order to increase flexibility. Moving your legs and arms and gradually increasing your reach and speed of movement takes you to the limits of your range of motion. In dynamic stretches, there are no bounces or “jerky” movements. An example of dynamic stretching would be slow, controlled leg swings, arm swings, or torso twists.

Vary Distance and Speed
Don’t run everyday, especially when you’re starting out. 3 days per week is ideal and each week your schedule should include 1 long run, 1 workout run where you increase your speed to race pace or increase the number hills and run for a shorter distance, and finally 1 recovery run which is done at a slower than race pace. Muscles and joints need time to recover. If you push them too far you risk injury or recurring pain.

Go At It Gradually
Gradually progress your weekly mileage and long run distance so you can comfortably run at least 2.5 miles prior to racing. And always reduce mileage the week prior to the big race. 

Listen to your body
If you are waking up sore or feeling sluggish during your runs take a few days off and/or cross train. Cross train with strengthening and core exercises 2-3x weekly for best results.

If you’re looking for a partner along the way, we like the app Couch to 5K. And always remember that you don’t have to worry about time on your first 5K. Stay steady, stay healthy. And watch out, the running bug may bite you, and as you cross that finish line you may be planning your next 5K.

If you have any questions, our fitness trainers can offer running specific training programs to make sure you build the right muscles, call 616.997.6172. The right coach can help you stay injury free and make training fun.

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