A lot of people start strong with all the best intentions of running consistently, but fall short after a week or two. To avoid this, find a beginner 5k plan that works for you (Check out our Beginner Running Plan for an example). With the right plan, you will avoid over training or increasing your mileage too much too fast, which are leading causes of running injuries.
Following a plan will keep you consistent and accountable so you will be able to conquer the letdown that happens after a few weeks of starting something new. However, consistency doesn’t mean beating yourself up when life gets in the way. Modify the plan as needed to keep yourself from burning out, even if it means repeating a week.
Do I need good running shoes? What makes a good running shoe? What happens if I don’t get a good running shoe? These are all great questions. There are so many factors that go in to getting a good running shoe.
Thankfully running specialty stores are here to show you what running shoes are appropriate for you personally. Stop by your local Runner’s Alley and get The Right Fit™ to stay healthy and happy during your running journey. Our staff will help you find the right shoes and all the other gear you might need, including socks, apparel, and bras (Women: Don’t forget your sports bra shouldn’t celebrate a birthday).
Take a few minutes to warm up your muscles using a dynamic warm-up. Before you take a step, you want to make sure to prepare your muscles and ligaments to run, open up your joints, and get your heart rate going. From leg swings for your hips and hamstrings, to arm circles to promote good posture, you’ll be ready to go.
One of the most challenging questions is “How fast should I run?” When training for your first 5k, it is important to keep yourself moving at a rate where you can keep a conversation. By keeping it conversational, you will keep your heart rate down and allow yourself to run longer. Don’t forget, you are adding time and distance, not speed.
If possible, it might be a good way to run with a buddy (keeping your social distance, of course). A running partner will help you keep your mind off of the stresses on your body, keep your pace consistent, and give you accountability!
As you finish your run, walk for a few minutes to help your heart rate decrease and cool you down. Then, make sure to stretch and recover after your run. Here is where static stretching can help. By stretching warm muscles for 30-60 seconds, you will improve flexibility. You should feel tension in a stretch, but not pain. If you feel pain in your stretch, back off until you feel tension.
Another great way to help recover from your run and keep you injury free is foam rolling and other tissue manipulation. Foam rolling will break down knots in your muscles and helps improve circulation, making it a great companion with stretching. For some great options, check out our selection of foam rollers.
Don’t stop at your muscles! Re-hydrating and adding protein to help rebuild your muscles within 20-30 minutes after your run is important too.
Once race day comes, it’s time to shine! You’ve spent weeks preparing for this, so don’t do anything different than you have. If you are at a live race, give yourself extra time to warm up, use the restroom, and be ready to go when your number is called. If you are running at home, know your route beforehand and run at the same time you normally would. Have fun and remember it’s all for a good cause!