Tips for training for and running your first 5K race:
*Research your race to choose one that suits your wants and needs. Do you want a big race, with lots of crowd support? Do you prefer a small, hometown race? Do you want a medal? A t-shirt? A timed race? A fun novelty race, like a Color Run, costumed-run, or an obstacle run? Make sure you read the details from the race's website so you know (and are comfortable with) the race you choose for your first 5K.
|St. Patrick's Day run|
*Get fitted for running shoes at a running store. Having the wrong shoes for your feet and stride can cause a lot of problems and even injury. It's important to have someone who knows what they're doing evaluate your feet and stride, and help you pick a shoe that is best for you.
*Stay consistent with your training! If your plan calls for three days of running per week, make those runs top priority. It's okay to miss a run now and then for illness or injury, but if you aren't consistent with your training, you're going to have a very tough race, and it won't be much fun if you're not trained.
*Let your family and friends know that this race is a big deal for you! If you want them to cheer you on at the race, just ask. People who don't run usually don't understand how exciting it is to run your first race, so they won't know that you'd like to have them there, holding signs and ringing cowbells ;)
*Don't do too much, too soon. A lot of beginners make this mistake and wind up injured. Build your mileage slowly, and take it easy on the pace until you've got a good base built up.
*Work on distance before speed. If you're a new runner, it's better to increase your distance until you're running 3.1 miles (slowly), than it is to run a short distance quickly. One you build up your distance to 3.1 miles, then you can work on doing it faster.
*Buy some moisture-wicking clothing to keep you comfortable while you run. Running in cotton can cause chafing, and it gets really heavy with sweat. Clothes made with a technical fabric are meant to keep you dry and cool. Don't forget to include moisture-wicking socks, too! Your feet will thank you.
|I wore a cotton shirt for my first 5K, and my friends wore|
tech shirts... see how the cotton holds the sweat?
*Don't start out too fast. It's easy to get swept up with the excitement of the race, and cross the starting line in a sprint, only to burn out a half-mile into the race. It's best to hold back a little at the beginning, and pick up your pace throughout the race if you feel good. Aim for negative splits (where you get faster each mile).
*Don't set a time goal for your first 5K, but do have an idea of what your pace will likely be. At the starting line, you'll want to line up with people that are running about the same pace as you (so don't go to the very front unless you are going to be running 5-6 minute miles).
*You don't have to run a 5K. There are plenty of people who walk them! If you're thinking of walking it, you might want to make sure it's a walker-friendly race (most 5K's are). You could check the website, email the race director, or even look at the previous year's results to see the finish times.
*There may or may not be a water station during the 5K race. Unless you're out there for more than 45 minutes or so, you can probably get by without stopping for water. But it's tough to run and drink from a paper cup, so I would either practice that beforehand, or walk for a few seconds, just long enough to drink the water.
*Smile when you cross the finish line! Usually there are photographers taking photos of the finishers.
Training for a 5K isn't too complicated, because you don't have to worry about fueling during the runs or race. You pretty much blink and it's over with! Once you complete your first 5K, you can work on improving your speed to set a PR (personal record), or you can work on your endurance and aim for a 10K.
Good luck! If I left something out, please feel free to share any tips you may have in the comments. Here are a few other (hopefully) helpful posts that I've written as well:
50 Running Tips
Running (or walking) your first 5K race