Tips for Your First 5k

With the announcement of Runkeeper’s Global 5k taking place around the world on December 6th, 2015, some users will be embarking on their first ever 5k race. How do you go about running a 5k, or any race? If you have ever been into running before, you might not know where to start or what to do. One great thing about the running community is that everyone is a part of everyone else’s cheering section. We share in the excitement of people’s first races and we love hearing other people’s stories, adventures, and accomplishments. If you are looking for help, you won’t have to go far to find it.

Getting Started

Where do you begin when it comes to embarking on a running adventure? The best thing to do is to set goals for yourself. These goals can be a number of things and can cover a whole spectrum of topics and measurements. Perhaps your goal is to simply run a 5k. The next question you should answer is what 5k do you want to run specifically? In my own experience, signing up for a race is one of the biggest motivators I have when it comes to training. You need that race in the back of your mind with that very real deadline to help push you to keep running through the weeks. Goals for running might even be more specific in terms of saying you would like to run a 5k in under 28 minutes, or that you want to train 3 times a week.

Follow a Training Plan

Want to help yourself prevent injury, burnout, and just pure frustration? You need to follow a training plan. There are a plethora of options and helpful websites and apps that inexperienced and even experienced runners can use to help guide their training. Runkeeper Go offers training schedules, help, and advice through it’s many training plans available through the app. There are also options that are aimed at helping you lose weight or even learn to run if you are a beginner. Other apps that seem to have grown in popularity are Couch to 5k which is another training plan that gives you daily workouts that help you progress from being sedentary to being on the course. Other runners may follow a particular trainer and his plan, such as Hal Higdon (www.halhigdon.com). He has varied training plans from novice to advanced runners who are looking to improve. The main thing to keep in mind as you begin a training program is to make sure that it is progressive. You cannot expect to be walk/jogging a mile one week to being able to run multiple miles the next. Just like any other sport or activity, running takes practice in order to get better at it.

Find Your Motivation

It’s true when people say that it is important to know why you are running in a race. Is it for the cool shirt? Is it because all of your friends are doing it with you? Is it to prove to yourself that you can be a runner? Everyone’s motivation is different. Some people use races as a motivator to enter into a healthier lifestyle. All reasons are valid reasons, you just need to know why it is important for YOU. So ask yourself (and be honest), why are you running?

Pump Yourself Up

As part of motivation, I would say that most runners would tell you that they have a particular piece of clothing that they prefer to run in. Maybe it’s a favorite shirt, a pair of shorts, or even a pair of socks. In order to pump yourself up about a race, sometimes you need to invest in some new gear. Have you ever heard the saying, “If you look good, you’ll feel good”? That saying is still relevant in the running community. Get a new pair of shoes, a cool t-shirt, some nice socks. It may not seem like a big deal but sometimes it is the little things that can get you excited for a race.

Rock it Out

From my own personal experience, I know that sometimes a music playlist you have been listening to for the past 8 weeks while training can get repetitive and has an effect on your morale during a race. Sometimes listening to a particular song reminds you of another run where you were listening to it and didn’t have such a great day. Help yourself out and keep your playlist new and inspiring by either purchasing some new songs especially for race day or go the route of a music system like Pandora, Spotify, or Songza. By selecting a playlist set to your pace and songs that aren’t necessarily on your music device, you may be surprised to find some new songs that get your legs moving faster and help you get through some of the miles. Runkeeper has also come out with it’s own “DJ” (Runkeeper DJ) where you select the pace and genre you would like to run to and it plays songs that are on your music device that fit your selection.

Research the Race

If you have never done a 5k before, it might seem a little daunting and intimidating. There are a lot of questions you may ask yourself:

  • When/where do I get my race bib?
  • How early should I show up for a race?
  • Where does the race go?

Some of these questions can be answered just by looking up the race online. Generally, it will say on the race page when and where you can pick up your packet (“packet” being the term for your race info including but not limited to your race bib, t-shirt, and sometimes some freebies). This usually takes place the day prior to the race although you can also pick up your packet the day of the race. It is recommended that you pick up your packet the day before if it is a large race. I promise it will cut down on your race day anxiety and you will have a smoother morning.

Through a consensus by the runners in my local community, they recommend getting to a race anywhere from 30 minutes before the start to 45 minutes before the start. Keep in mind, for a bigger race you may want to arrive earlier so you can make sure you can park and get warmed up without feeling too rushed. It’s also important to utilize the bathroom before starting your race so allow time for that too.

On your drive into the race, you may see where some of the course is marked and that can give you an idea of where you are going to be running. Many races also post a course map on their website or just may give written directions for you to read, assuming you know the area. This is also a good thing to do at the beginning of training so you know about any hills that you could encounter or any “off road” portions of the race. By knowing about these areas of the race, it will help you train for those “hazards”. Training on mostly flat ground will not help you in a race that is one continuous hill.

Runkeeper’s Global 5k

Whether it is your first ever 5k or if you are a seasoned veteran in the running community, this race is perfect for everyone. Runkeeper wants you to be a part of their largest event of the year. The reward for completing this challenge is the availability to purchase  limited edition Runkeeper Global 5k gear in the Runkeeper store. Runkeeper will also be sharing a ton of stats, like which country was the fastest and which country had the most participants! The race can be run anywhere at anytime as long as it is on December 6th, 2015. Just like any race, prizes will be awarded to the top 25 fastest runners. Both GPS and Stopwatch activities are acceptable. Run outside on the trails, in your neighborhood, on a treadmill in the gym, it doesn’t matter, you just have to track 3.1 miles by walking or running. Just get out and run!

 

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