The Simplicity of Your First 5K/10K

So, it’s 6 AM and you’ve stepped out of your house in your 2-year-old tennis shoes and you’re about to set foot on that 3-mile route you drove yesterday. Somehow this time of day doesn’t seem as glorious as when you came up with this idea of your first 5K/10K, but you’re set on this new adventure and here goes! Now we all know that when we’ve decided on a goal, there’s an inclination to be overzealous and end up with problems from the very beginning which ultimately results in not coming anywhere close to achieving the intended goal. Here are 4 simple to do’s for your first 5K/10K so you reach race day and accomplish it in good health and would like to do it again, or better yet, reach for something further or something new!

1. Shoes

If your shoes are 6 months – 2 years old, go get some new ones. Which ones you ask? Go to your local running store and ask for a running gait analysis. If you don’t do this, pick out the pair that’s most comfortable to you. Well, that sounds really unscientific you say? Yes, and there’s even science that shows runners that picked out the most comfortable shoes had less injuries as opposed to runners who chose appropriate shoes for their running gait. Keep it simple.

2. Ease into it

Your initial 3-mile run is called stress fracture or an itis(inflammation) injury of sorts. It’s easy to accomplish this in short order and potentially be out within 2 weeks of your initial training. So as overzealous as you are, take a step back, and eaaaaase into it. If you’ve never run before, it’s called couch to 5K, or simply start with running 1 mile. If you have run before, you know the drill, start small and add 10-15%/week. Give your body time to adapt to this new stress before you run the soles off your new shoes!

3. Speed Training

Do you fartlek? Tempo? Interval? Which type of speed training do I do? Again, the very unscientific simple method here is get out of your comfort zone. Yes, that’s completely unscientific, especially when you can look at the bazillion programs written on all different types of speed training. This is your very simple approach to your first 5K/10K. If you’re starting off with running 3 days a week, then include 1 day of some speed training. Your heart rate is up, you don’t like it, it’s uncomfortable, and it’s short. It’s as simple as a 30 second sprint with a 1:00 recovery until you’ve completed 20 minutes. You can build from there, but again, keep it simple.

4. Mimic Pre and Race Day

Compete exactly the way you train. AKA, what you eat the night before, how much sleep you get the night before, what you eat the morning of, what time you hydrate before your race, what clothes you’re most comfortable in and don’t chafe in, all of these things should be familiar and comfortable with your system by the time you get to race day. Part of your preparation is trying different things that work for you with your nutrition, how much sleep you need the night before, and how many days you should calm down your training before race day. Do not try anything new on race day!

4. You said 4 things!

Yes, I did. And what kind of trainer would I be if you didn’t hear me say you should strength train to make your first 5K/10K better ?? Strength training will help you become a healthy, strong, and efficient runner. Without diving into the specifics all you really need is a simple push, pull, squat and hinge. The variations of this will be posted in my next article! Those are your basics. Now that you’re sore from that initial 3 mile run in your 2-year-old shoes, go bust a move in your bathtub full of ice water. Take a step back, listen to your body, and enjoy this new challenge. If you have a constant nagging pain, your body’s telling you it’s too much too soon. Pay attention and keep it simple. This should be out of your comfort zone yet fun! Look for the next article on strength training to help your running. And also look for our running program this summer!