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This Month In Body
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  • Guide to 5Ks
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Health and Fitness News
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A Starter’s Guide to 5Ks

Be ready for the race.

Setting goals is a great way to stay motivated in your exercise routine. When you have something attainable to work towards and you can track your progress, you’ll be challenged and more likely to stick with exercise. Your goal may be to lose a certain number of pounds or to lower your blood pressure.

Or if you’re a runner, you may enjoy working towards running a race.
If you’re new to running, a 5K is the perfect distance to work towards. Five kilometers is the equivalent of 3.1 miles. Play your cards right, and a couple months is all it takes to be ready to run this far.

Want to know how to reach the finish line in tip-top shape? Read on.

Step One: Sign Up

You’ve made the decision to run a 5K. Great! You’re on the road to fitness and fulfilling your goals. Your first step is to sign up. This solidifies the deal and makes it official. Find a race in your community by looking online or asking around the gym. It shouldn’t be difficult to find a 5K to sign up for. Once you’ve committed, you’ll have a deadline to work toward. By training for a 5K, you’ll not only lose weight (running a mile can burn about 100 calories), but you’ll also gain confidence as an athlete. Remember: you’re not a quitter so it’s time to start training for your goal.

Running is one of the best solutions to a clear mind. - Sasha Azevedo

Step Two: Train

As you just read, the next step is to actually train for the race. The amount you need to train for a 5K will depend on your current fitness level. If you can’t run for five minutes without stopping for a break, your first step should be to spend several weeks working your way up to running continuously for 10 minutes.

Once you’ve reached this milestone, it’s time to begin serious training for your race. An eight-week 5K prep schedule will guide you each week through your training. Successful training for a 5K will include running as well as walking, cross training, and resting. This combination of activities will reduce your risk of injury and fatigue and will add variety for enjoyment.

When you’re ready to get started, try out this 5K training regime.

Mondays and Fridays: Two days a week are designated for rest. Your muscles need time to adapt to and recover from their new exertion. Overdoing it may lead to injury.

Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays: You want to run on three non-consecutive days of the week. Spend about five minutes warming up your muscles with a brisk walk or slow jog. Then run at a moderate pace for the required distance. End with a five-minute cool down and stretches.

Week one begins with a one mile run. Each subsequent week, increase your distance by a quarter mile. If you’re running on a track, one lap equals a quarter mile. A treadmill will also show you your distance. If you’re running on roads or trails, you may need to measure the distance on your car’s odometer, with a smart phone app, or an online mapping program.

Wednesdays: This is your day to change things up by cross training. Choose another activity you enjoy such as swimming, cycling, strength training, or the elliptical. Exercise at a moderate pace on these days for 30 to 40 minutes.

Sundays: One day a week is considered an active recovery day. During this session, you should run at a comfortable pace, alternate running and walking, or cross train. The first Sunday should be spent with approximately 20 minutes exercising. Then, add another five minutes to your routine every week afterward.

Step 3: Race Day!

The day before your race is important for your success. Get plenty of rest. Fuel your body with carbohydrates and plenty of water. You’ve trained and prepared for this day. Your body is ready. Now go reach your goal and cross the finish line. No matter how you do, don’t let this be your only race. Sign up for the next one soon!