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The Ultimate Guide to Run A 5K


The Ultimate Guide to Run A 5K


Running has never been a piece of cake for some of us. It gets us rolling on the ground, held hostage to fits of panting, making life (and losing weight) seem tougher than it really is. For those of you who have marathon aspirations and have trouble figuring out where the perfect start lies, this is the article for you.

Here’s a couch potato to 5k (3.1 miles) running program – The Guide To Run a 5K – that should inspire you to don your running shoes right away. And it is anything but boring.

Some Pre-Requisites

Motivation is essential

Ask a family member or a close friend to give you some company and more importantly, motivation to go the extra mile. Some friendly support makes the task less daunting and a wonderful experience eventually. Nothing works like some sincere encouragement.

You can subscribe for magazines like:

  1. Trail Runner Magazine
  2. Runner’s World
  3. Running Times

Or you can download these apps to keep you motivated:

  1. Runtastic
  2. RoadID
  3. Runkeeper

Get the right running footwear

Your daily sports shoes might be great for short distances, but it is always a good idea to get the proper set of footwear for your 5k run.

  • Running shoes for flat feet are ones that provide the least arch. While those with deep arch, and should go for higher cushioning in the middle. The heel for both however, should be about two inches thicker than front and raised.
  • Avoid running barefoot as it raises chances of injury. You can make use of barefoot or minimalist running shoes though.
  • For trail running or off-road running, choose ones which have thick, hard sole with trail pattern for extra grip and shock absorption. Also, our trail running is a good means of ensuring a balanced stride during running.

Read: How to Choose the Right Shoes for Exercise & Sports? (Infographic)

Warming up

It is always advisable to go for some stretching and lunging exercises before taking the plunge. Warming up is an absolute must if you do not want to be left injured at the end of your long run.

As a general rule, warming up is done to increase body temperature slightly and stretch, so that chances of muscular injury are reduced. Focus on large muscle groups and stretch them with light exercises. Jog at a place. A warm up may cause mild sweating, but it shouldn’t leave you fatigued.

Here are some examples of warm up activities:

  • To warm up for a brisk walk, walk slowly for 5-10 minutes.
  • To warm up for a run, walk briskly for 5-10 minutes.
  • To warm up for swimming, swim slowly at first and then pick up the tempo as you’re able.

Cooling Down

Cooling down is like warming up. It is actually a continuation of a workout session, but at a slower pace and reduced intensity.

Here are some examples of cool down activities:

  • To cool down after a brisk walk, walk slowly for 5-10 minutes.
  • To cool down after a run, walk briskly for 5-10 minutes.
  • To cool down after swimming, swim some leisure laps for 5-10 minutes.

Mild stretching exercises to ease up the exerted muscles are also a good idea.

Mix n Match

Team up your practice sessions with cardio workouts or some fun fat loss workouts to keep your interest up and going, like interval training or aqua jogging. These will not only keep interests high, but will develop your body in more than one ways. An upper edge that’s all everyone needs while training for a 5k run. Right?!

Don’t Ignore the Body Signals

Motivation and determination apart, you must not push your body beyond its limit. If running after a certain limit is painful, do not continue in the hope that it will go away. Stop and start from scratch the next day till you build enough stamina.

We did a series on Reading your body’s messages. You might wanna check them out first to avoid potential injuries and diagnose them early.

Get Rid of Preconceived Notions

Some of you might have an inbuilt stereotype of what a runner should look like. However, not everybody has a super fit body. For example, Oprah Winfrey served as a source of inspiration for several women after completing her first marathon. It is important to get rid of your mental hurdles before starting your journey.

Start Slow

The key to success here is taking baby steps. Whether you’re training alone or with a group of friends, make sure you don’t rush the process up in the hope of winning quick rewards.

Begin by warming up and then proceed to brisk walking. You could also use some cardio fitness or weight training exercises. This will get your body used to physical activity after a period of inactivity. After your body has considerably warmed up, proceed to running short distances.

Initially, walk more and run less. Gradually shift to running more and walking less. It is important for you, as a beginner, to take it easy when it comes to running. If you find it hard to talk without gasping for air, tone it down.

Remember that overdoing it will do more harm than good. Also keep in mind that it takes time to perfect the art. Your first few weeks, hence, are probably going to be the hardest. But that should be no reason for you to give up.

The 5K Run Training Schedule

If you have a goal in mind, you are more likely to indulge in purposeful workout routines and running sessions. Sign up for a nearby 5k running program at a running store. This way, you have a goal to meet and you stay motivated.

Here’s a training program that will help you successfully complete your 5k journey. The workouts ought to be carried out thrice a week, with a gap of a day at least between two workouts.

Remember the importance of warming up and cooling down. Be sure to include a ten minute session of each during your training.

Week 1: Walk for about 30 minutes.

Week 2: For a total of 30 minutes, alternate walking with running. Walk for about 4 minutes and run for close to 30-60 seconds.

Week 3: Follow the same schedule as the previous week while walking for 2 minutes and running for one minute.

Week 4: For a total of 27 minutes, alternate running and walking for 3 minutes each.

Week 5: Run 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes for a total of 30 minutes.

Week 6: Twice this week, alternate walking 3 minutes and running 5 minutes (for a total of 30 minutes). On the third day, run 8 minutes and walk for 5 minutes twice for 26 minutes.

Week 7: Run 20 minutes

Week 8: Day 1, run 30 minutes. Day 2, run 32. Day 3 is your race day.

The D-Day

Here are some tips for running 5k successfully:

  • Clothing: Go for breathable fabric with sweat wicking properties. Wear a cap, if possible. Make sure you have test drove your shoes at least 10 times before wearing them in the final race.
  • Stay calm before the run: Don’t let the thought of running for 5k get you nervous and jittery. Stay calm and positive. Arrive early to let the feeling set in before you can take off. Do some running stretches.
  • Do your own thing: Don’t try to keep up with the runners ahead of you. Run at your own, comfortable speed while staying motivated to reach the finish line. Do not try to imitate anybody else’s running technique at the last moment.
  • Stay calm after the run: Don’t get worked up on reaching the finish line. Cool down with a slow 5-10 minute jog.

Once you’re done, it’s time to party. Congratulations. Now, you know how to run a 5k.

Do put in your comments below to give us a feedback on whether the program worked for you. And feel free to come back for any questions related to the post.

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Last Updated: June 30th, 2014
Next Scheduled Update: Aug 30th, 2014

  1. Surbhi Dhanuka

    July 6, 2013

    Thumbs up. (Y)