One of the most satisfying accomplishments runners can achieve is completing a 5k or 10k road race. Whether you’re running for weight loss 3 days a week or logging 50+ miles training for a half marathon, having a schedule and sticking to it is key to reaching the finish line.
A training plan for a 5k or 10k race starts with a schedule that fits your lifestyle. If you over-train you risk injury. If you don’t work out enough, you may not finish. Here are some running tips for beginners to get you started and keep you going.
Be Realistic: You may not have time to train an hour every day, but you can probably squeeze in 30 minutes five days a week. It’s a combination of running, strength / endurance training, and resting.
Be Comfortable: One of the most common reason for quitting a beginners running plan is because “it hurts to run.” If you’re just starting out, run for 30 seconds and walk fast for a minute. Build up slowly until you can run comfortably for 30 minutes. If you can talk while you run, it’s the right pace.
Be Reasonable: Most people will struggle to run a 5k without stopping to walk for a bit. And that’s fine! Just completing the race is something to be proud of, and often, you’ve done it for a worthy cause.
Be You: Don’t worry about the dude with the crazy, backpack hydration system and $200 shoes. This is about you and your goals. Focus on having fun and staying motivated.
Running a 5k is like learning any other sport. It takes time, practice, and dedication. Let’s assume you can devote 30 minutes a day for five days a week. A 5k is a little over three miles. A reasonable goal is to complete it in 30 minutes or less. So when you first start running, you won’t cover 5k in 30 minutes. A reasonable goal for your first week running should be 5 miles.
Your 5k training plan should have variety. Running is more than just strong legs, and running alone won’t necessarily build strength and endurance. Start out running on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Use Tuesdays and Fridays for a different type of training regimen like isometrics, yoga, or interval training. Rest on Thursdays and Sundays. It’s that simple.
Also, remember to mix up your course when you run. Don’t go around a flat track all the time. You never want your body to get used to the same old routine (we call it “plateauing”).
Finally, when you’re training for a 5k, you want to run enough miles to prepare your body but not so much that you’re overtaxing your body. If you start with 5 miles in the first week, your goal will be to reach 15 miles after eight weeks. It’s still the same 30 minutes per run, but you’re running fast now. Congratulations! You’re ready for your first 5k.
Little known fact… the 10k race was born from marathon runners who would hit “the wall” after 20 miles of a marathon. How long is a marathon? 26.2 miles. How long is a 10k? 6.2 miles. Pretty simple math. The idea was to be able to easily run a 10k, so when a marathoner hit the wall, they could mentally overcome it.
A 10k race is more than just two 5k’s. It requires more strength, stamina, different pacing, and a lot more training. If you’re planning your 10k running schedule, you need your running days to be an hour. You can keep other workout regimens at 30 minutes, but to properly train for a 10k, you need to train your body to run for an hour.
When you start upping your miles, one of the biggest risks in injury. This can be soreness in your joins, shin splints, or even something nasty like a pulled muscle or ligament damage. The key is to be a well-rounded runner. Running the same 60 minutes over and over is a recipe for injury. Mix up your schedule even more dramatically than when training for a 5k. This includes speed, interval, tempo and distance training.
Try this… on your Monday and Wednesday running workouts, mix it up with a variety of other run training exercises – hills, strides, lunges, squats and plyometric bursts. You can do all of these when you’re out on the road for your 60-minute run. Then on Saturday, focus on pacing and speed for the entire hour. You’ll see your average mile time slowly start coming down and decrease the risk of an injury.
It’s true. You will either injure yourself, lose interest, or never reach your fitness goals. Your running plan is like any guide you use to complete a task. You wouldn’t put together Ikea furniture without directions, right? Also when you’re reviewing other workout programs to compliment your running regimen, try the Activ5 isometric device and smartphone app. It’s the perfect way to build strength and endurance in your legs, arms and core, so you can reach the finish line faster.