Your Road to a 5K Race

Like most beginner runners, I started out running only a mile or two at a time—and it was tough! I got side stitches, took walking breaks, and experienced plenty of frustration. Running is not easy! But I kept with it and pushed myself to run farther each time I went out for a run. Over time, I worked my way up to longer and longer distances, and eventually signed up for my first 5K. After completing my first road race, I was hooked on running, and the rest is history!

Running is great exercise and an effective way to tone muscles and lose weight, but it can be daunting to take the first step. Do you want to give running a try? Here are some tips for beginners!

Start with walking

One of the biggest misconceptions about running is that you need to run continuously from start to finish. Instead of running full out and getting discouraged, include some walks in your run. Try alternating three minutes of running with one minute of walking to start. Over time, you can gradually increase the ratio of running to walking a minute at a time until you’ve worked up to longer distances. Eventually, you’ll be able to run for more time with fewer walking breaks. A good goal to work toward is nine minutes of running with one minute of walking.

Then, try intervals

Once you’ve mastered the run-walk method, do intervals to kick your runs up a notch. I love intervals because they keep things interesting and help me increase my pace and distance because they allow me to take slower-paced breaks. If I’m running outside, I jog the distance between one or two sets of telephone poles, then sprint the distance between the next set, and continue to alternate fast and slow speeds. Interval training pushes me to keep a fast pace, and my workout flies by!

Keep a running journal

I record my runs on DailyMile.com to track my progress and keep me motivated. I note the basic information about my runs (distance, time, type of workout, and how I felt during and afterward), which keeps me motivated and inspired to keep at it, especially when I look back and see how far I’ve come with my running!

Sign up for a 5K road race

The best way to motivate myself to run consistently is to sign up for a road race. A 5K is the perfect distance for a beginner runner to build up to. Plus, there’s always a lot of excitement on race day, which makes the experience much more fun. Once you cross that finish line, I bet you’ll be hooked on running!

Create a new playlist

Music is my go-to motivator. When I create a new playlist on my iPod, it always motivates me to get out the door for a run. Plus, the tunes help me run for a longer period of time because I never want to stop midway through a song. I want to keep going until it’s over!

Don’t give up

Everyone has bad runs– even runners who have been running consistently for years. There are days when my legs feel like a ton of bricks and my lungs burn, but I don’t let it discourage me too much. I slow my pace down—sometimes I will just shuffle along until I feel better. Eventually, I’ll start to feel better and pick up the pace. Becoming a runner doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work and dedication, and I remind myself of this on tough runs. It always seems to get me through!

Listen to your body

Running can be hard on your body, so you might feel tired and sore after your runs, which is normal to an extent. Make sure you listen to your body and take rest days as needed. If you ever feel pain when you are running, stop and take a day or two to rest and figure out what’s going on with your body. For me, this means cutting back on my training or incorporating more cross-training into my schedule.

Have fun

First and foremost, running is supposed to be fun! If you’re just starting out and can only run half a mile, run that half-mile and enjoy every second of it! The next time you go out for a run, try to run a little farther. You’ll get there if you keep at it. Run because you ENJOY it!

Happy running!

Tina Haupert
Carrots ‘N’ Cake
http://carrotsncake.com
Columnist, Health.com
Twitter: @carrotsncake