Tips to run your first 5k before the end of 2017

by | Oct 19, 2017 | Health & Fitness, Sports

We’re closing in on the end of October already, so how are those New Years resolutions you set coming along?

Chances are high that, if you’re like anyone else who set New Year’s resolutions, you either probably don’t remember what you set out to accomplish this year or assuming you did set out some audacious goals, you probably haven’t yet realized them, or have even tried to in the first place. Sound familiar? Don’t worry. You’re surely not alone.

Here are some tips and guidelines to help you complete your first 5k by the end of 2017. They include:1. Get a physical from your medical professional.

Just because you’re “healthy,” don’t assume that you can safely dive head-first into an exercise regiment. Get the all-clear from your medical professional first, and if you haven’t had a physical in a year, get that, too. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

2. Take things slowly.

If you’ve never run a step in your life, don’t think that you’re going to be the
next Usain Bolt right off the bat. Take things really slowly at first. Aim for 5 minutes of walking to begin, and if you feel like you can handle more, throw in a little running. Be sure to pace yourself, and remember that this isn’t a sprint. There are tons of free and accessible “couch to 5k” programs available online, so it may be worth your while to do a little research and see which plans will work well with your life, given your time constraints and extra obligations.

3. Consider working with a coach.

If you’re really into this goal, consider hiring a coach — either in-person or virtually — to help safely guide you through your training. Runners have a notoriously high injury rate, and much of it stems from runners wanting to run too far, too fast, and much too early, before their bodies are ready to handle the stress and rigor of training. Working with a coach will give you unfettered access to more scaled and personalized training, and you’ll also become equipped with a bastion of readily-available and accessible knowledge to help quench all your running- and training-related inquiries. It can be an investment, but it may be worth it to you.

4. Pick a goal race sometime this fall.

Autumn is the season that most runners live for because the temps become a little cooler, the leaves begin to change colors, and it’s just usually much more comfortable to run in than, say, the scorching heat and humidity or the freezing, Arctic cold. Fortunately, autumn is typically a robust racing season for many runners, and with so many holidays on the calendar, there are typically a plethora of options from which to choose, such as themed races like ones related to Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. It may make the most sense to aim for a race later in the season, like around Christmastime or New Years, to give yourself more time to train, but it also depends on what type of fitness base you’re beginning training with. If you feel like you’re ready, you may want to sign up for a 5k around Thanksgiving and then another one around New Years so you can assess your improvement between the two holidays.

5. Get a friend in on the fun!

Running is typically a solitary sport, but it’s also a lot of fun with friends. Find a friend or two from school or the office to participate in this goal-achieving adventure with you, and you’ll be giving yourself accountability buddies as well. It’s always easier and much more enjoyable to log some miles and do tough workouts with friends, and you’ll find that the miles simply fly by, as well. Think of it as a mobile and healthier happy hour!

6. Having a race on the calendar will help you get through the holiday craziness.

We all tend to get pretty busy during the holidays, and for many of us, that means excessive weight gain. It doesn’t have to be that way! Having a race on the calendar, like your first-ever 5k, can be the difference between you getting out the door to train each morning and otherwise sleeping through your alarm. Besides, sure, you may have nightly parties to attend for nearly two months, but you’re probably not going to any parties at 6 am, are you?Having a race on the calendar can give you an additional layer of accountability during an otherwise hectic time of year, one wherein many people let their good, healthy exercise habits fall to the wayside.

7. Finally, set up the systems to help keep things in check when motivation wanes.

My last point to help you run your first 5k before the end of the year refers more to the systems that you should set up to help you get out the door each day. Many people incorrectly think that their ceaseless motivation will help them achieve their goals each day, but the thing is that most times, our motivation wanes. We will eventually feel like we don’t want to do something, and most of the time, we’ll give in to that desire to do nothing. When you’re working hard toward a goal, having a support system, or structure, in place can make the difference between doing something and not doing something. As you’re developing your plan to train for your first 5k before the end of the year, consider the systems that you’ll need to create to get your ritual on track. Maybe that’ll mean going to bed a little earlier each night, or going to the gym every day at the same time, or meeting a friend for a run twice a week. Whatever you need to do, do it. Don’t bank on your motivation carrying you through from start to finish.

Enjoy the rest of 2017, of course, but give yourself a little kick in the pants to follow-through on some of your goals that you set earlier this year. Just because you haven’t yet done them doesn’t mean that you won’t, and realistically, today’s as good a day to start as any. Do yourself a favor, and get out there and try. You’ll be glad you did; I promise.

Jane Grates is a nature enthusiast, music fanatic, and adventurer. Operating at the junction of simplicity and intellectual purity to grasp experiences in real life.

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