Get Ready To Run Your First 5K Race

A stepwise guide to train for a 5K race

BY KEVIN M. DUPREY, D.O.

Summer’s the perfect time to sign up for a race to motivate yourself to get into better shape. The most popular distance is the 5K, five kilometers, just over three miles. You can do it if you train. (Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program!)

Step 1: Choose wisely

Pick a race at least two or three months away to allow enough time to prepare. Check the course for varying terrain (hills can add challenges). Think about finding a training partner.

Step 2: Build a base

Don’t run too fast too soon, or you risk injury.  Run slowly for the first 4-6 weeks of training. Focus on increasing your aerobic capacity. Start with a distance you’re comfortable running, be it a quarter-mile, or three miles. Intersperse running with walking to build up your distance. Your running pace should enable you to hold a conversation. Run a bit longer one day a week to build endurance.

Step 3: Rest

Let your body recover between runs to help prevent injury. To do this, run every other day, or cross train between runs by biking, swimming or doing other cardio exercises.

Step 4: Speed it up

After building your base, add one day a week of faster running. Try “fartlek,” in which you mix faster running with slower running at 3:2 ratio, (3 minutes of faster running then 2 minutes of slower running) repeating 3-5 times.

When you’re comfortable running faster, work toward “tempo pace,” in between your slow and fast running pace. Start tempo runs around 10 minutes, then increase the time each week.

Step 5:  The week before

Decrease your running the week before a race so you feel good on race day. Sleep well and eat carbohydrates several days leading up to the race. Try to avoid making any sudden changes to your routine the week before the race. This includes diet, shoes, and workouts.  On race day, relax and use all your “race jitters” energy to power through to the finish line.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Kevin DuPrey specializes in sports medicine and enjoys working with patients of all ages and abilities. His holistic approach is to look at the whole picture and help prevent future injuries.

 

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