How to Prepare for Your First 5K

Spring is on its way and warmer weather signals a perfect time to think about getting off the couch and signing up for a race. If it is your first time entering a running event (even if you walk), these simple steps can help you get ready for your first 5K.

5K’s are a great way to ease into running events or to motivate yourself to stay active as you train to reach a tangible goal. Since 5K races are only 3.1 miles in distance, they’re the perfect entrance into the world of organized running events.

If you’re new to running, here’s how to conquer your first race:

  • Pick a race. Find a race that’s 2-3 months away so you’ll have enough time to train. You’ll often see flyers posted around town at this time of year or find local events promoted on Facebook. You can also search for events on sites like active.com.
  • Check with your doctor. If you’re new to running or have a medical condition, check with a healthcare professional to make sure you have the all-clear to train for the event.
  • Invest in the right gear. Running is a relatively inexpensive sport, but one thing you definitely need is a good pair of shoes. You’ll also want to make sure you have comfortable clothes that are well-suited to the weather conditions you will be training or racing in. A pedometer or fitness tracker can take the guesswork out of training and motivate you by tracking your progress.
  • Plan your training. If you’ve been inactive, start slowly. Begin by adding short intervals of running during your walk, gradually increasing how long you can run as you build stamina. Take days off during training to allow your muscles time to recover. If you’re looking for a formal training plan, there are many to choose from online. Find one that works for your current fitness level, time constraints and goals. You can also decide to walk the race – most 5K’s are very walker-friendly.

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Date Last Reviewed: February 22, 2018

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Andrew P. Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS

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