Your first 5K (3.125 miles) run is no small feat and training for one can be both a labor and time intensive task. For the average person running a race like a 5K will not be something you just get up and decided to do on the morning of the race, unless of course you’re an experienced runner. For the rest of us, a little bit of planning ahead is required.
Get Medical Approval: The first thing you should do, when preparing for a 5K run, is get the go ahead from your doctor to participate in the run. If you have any special needs, you should also talk to the doctor about the best way to accommodate those during the run while you’re in the office. While you are there, talk with your doctor about the proper diet to follow while you are in training. A 5K run will require a great deal of preparation, and beginning without the approval of a doctor can be bad for your health.
Figure out where you are starting: Now you will need to get a basic idea of your level of fitness in order to figure out your plan for action when training for a 5K run. In order to do this, go to your gym or local track with your watch. If you can run the entire length of the race on the first day then this number will become your base time. If you cannot complete the entire length of the 5K run on your first trial, then you are going to have to estimate your time for the whole 5k run based on what you can do before you have started training.
Set your goal: Now it’s time to set your goal. If you were able to get a complete base number for the entire 5K, run then on the day of the race, your goal should be to complete the race with this time or better. If you could not finish, get a complete base time then your goal will simply be to finish the race. The idea here is not to push yourself too hard your first few times running.
Set your training times: Once you have a goal in mind, you’re going to have to get out your calendar and designate times for training on your track or at your gym. How often you get to train will be a personal decision based on your schedule, your access to the training facility, your level of fitness and how close the race is. It is critical that you take these factors into account when preparing for a 5K run.
The shape you are in and the amount of time you have to train are the two main factors that will determine how much you need to train in any given week for your 5K run. However, if you have any physical impairments, or if you’re just out of shape, you should stick with the training schedule that you set with your doctor, or certified personal trainer. It is important when preparing for a race that you stick to your running schedule.
Rest up: The day before the race, take it easy on yourself and don’t train. You need to give your body a chance to recover from the previous training and store up energy for tomorrow. If at all possible get to bed early and avoid caffeine.
On the day of the race be sure to stay hydrated, remember your goals and have a great time.