First of, congratulations for deciding to run your first 5K! Whether this is your first organized race ever (or in a long time), I am sure there are some questions that you may have on training and race day itself. Below are a few tips for beginners who have just entered their first 5K.
Set Your Goals Appropriately
Since this is most likely your first organized race, you may think there is a lot of pressure to perform and compete. This is definitely not the case. Your only competition on race day is yourself.
When thinking about what you want to accomplish by running this 5K, make sure you are setting realistic goals. Sure, a 5K can be ran in 15-20 minutes for elite runners but many others are running the race in 30, 45 or even 60 minutes.
When you start training, get into a pace that feel comfortable. For many beginners, the only goal that they have is to finish the race without giving up. This is a great goal.
Once you have one race under your belt, you can use that finish time as a indicator of your new goals should be (when you sign up for your next 5K!)
Give Yourself Enough Time to Train
If you are a beginner there isn’t a magic set of weeks that will help you train for your 5K. There are example programs that start at seven weeks before race day, but these can be lengthened or shortened depending on your health and experience.
The important factor here is that the more time training the better. You want to be able to run/jog/walk for up to an hour which is something that doesn’t come naturally right out of the gate.
Depending on your goals, aim for at least seven weeks before the race to start running and make sure to slowly increase your mileage/time running so you do not risk injury.
Each and every runner should come up with a warm up routine that fits their training and that will reduce the risk of injury. As a beginner, it is important to get your blood flowing, heart rate elevated and joints nimble.
Warming up can consist of many different things, but usually consists of a 5-10 minute session of varying intensity.
The goal is to make sure your muscles are not going full force right away.
Race Day – Eat Normally
It is common for beginners to try to eat new, uber-nutritious foods the morning before their race. The problem is, although your heart may be in the right place, your stomach is definitely not. Eating foods that you have not been eating before training runs should be off limit on race day.
The reason being is that you do not know how your body is going to react to this newer food – which could cause bloating, gas, and other “unspeakables” and will just make your race day a nightmare.
Find foods that work for you during your training days and stick with it on race day.