The Beginner's Guide To Crushing Your First 5K

5K blog pic

Have you aspired to run, jog, walk, or crawl your first 5K race? Good news! Participating in local or virtual 5K races develops endurance, speed, and strength. You can train for it without committing hours of work and only need a pair of athletic shoes. You can choose to walk, run, or a combination of both. Best of all you can improve your health, encourage others, support a charity, and get free snacks at the finish! 

Just 30 minutes of walking every day can increase bone strength, reduce body fat, and improve muscle power and endurance. Running increases caloric burn and endurance! If you’re lacking motivation and need inspiration to keep yourself healthy, sign up for your first 5K race! 

Use this guide to get started:

  • Set a realistic goal

If you’re unsure of what goal to set, do a 5K time trial! Once you know where your fitness is, you can set a goal. Whether it’s to beat a certain time or just finish the race, make sure your goal is attainable. Aim too high and you may burnout trying to reach that goal. That’s what makes a 5K race so fun - everyone has their own level of achievement! 

  • Create a training schedule

Create an attainable training schedule to promote adherence. If you try to follow a 5-day training schedule but can only commit to 3, then do that instead. You don’t want to set the bar too high and disappoint yourself early in the process! A good training schedule includes at least one day of intervals (more on this later) and 1-2 days of a longer run or walk.

  • Add in resistance training

Include strength training, yoga, pilates, or other cross-training methods. Why? It can help:

  • Prevent burnout
  • Improve muscle, joint, and bone strength
  • Reduce risk of injury

On your “off” days head to a local yoga studio for a class, or search YouTube for an at-home strength training video! Find activities you enjoy to keep the spark up.

  • Do intervals once a week

Interval training includes short, quick bursts of running or walking. Intervals help increase speed and power, which is helpful for optimizing fitness. It’s also a good way to mix up your workouts! Start with 30 second surges and 30 second rest periods for a total of 15 minutes, then slowly build up time and speed. Or check out these 5K beginner interval workouts for additional guidance!

  • Create a fueling plan

A proper fueling plan is essential to provide energy during workouts and refuel fatigued muscles to optimize recovery.

Pre-workout snacks focus on carbohydrates and some protein. Avoid high fat meals prior to workouts because they take longer to digest. Consume a pre-workout snack within 1-2 hours of your workout, and you’re good to go! Try Banana w/Peanut Butter, Chocolate Almond Snack Bites, or Homemade Energy Bars.

Post-workout snacks focus on protein and some carbohydrates. Protein helps rebuild fatigued muscles. Carbohydrates help fuel the repair process, so don’t forget about them! It’s best to consume a post-workout meal or snack within an hour of your workout to optimize recovery. Try a Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie, Turkey & Cheese Roll-Ups, or a Simple Parfait w/Raspberries & Granola.

If you still need motivation, join a local running or walking group, or download an app such as Couch to 5K. They even have an app where you can run from “zombies” (cue in great interval training!) called Zombies, Run! Strap on those shoes, get out the door, and start walking, running, jogging, or crawling your way to victory and good health!

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