How to Prep for your First 5K

In January I wrote How to choose your first 5K and How to choose a running watch. I was expanding on the information from the info-graphic below.

my first 5k, running bibIn this post I discuss the other points in the info-graphic.

I don’t have a dog, so I can’t give any advise from my own experience there. I’ll let the pros advise you on how to treat runner’s knee or any injury for that matter. But I will cover the other items in this post.

How to Prep for your First 5K

First, you should pick a race that is at least 8 weeks out. This will give you the time to properly train and avoid injuries. You should follow a couch to 5K program or some other beginners program from a reputable source.

Safely Increase mileage

new runners, first 5kThis is #4 on the info-graphic. Any training program for beginners will slowly and carefully increase your mileage. The rule of thumb is no more than a 10% increase in mileage per week.

When you are first starting out it may be safe to double your mileage in a week. If you jog one day for two miles the first week, you should be able to add a second day of jogging for two miles.

Depending on your schedule you could then add a third day in week three, or make your two two-mile jogs into two and a half or three-mile jogs. If you have the time it is better to spread your miles over three days.

As a first time 5K runner, your goal is to be able to jog three miles comfortably. A 5K is 3.1 miles. If you can jog three miles, you can do the race.

Once you are able to run three miles at a time, you don’t need to go much further.

If you want to try a few four or five-mile runs, go ahead. The important thing is that you feel comfortable doing the run.

If you feel sick, dizzy or have any of the other heart attack or stroke symptoms you should stop immediately and see your doctor or call 911.

If you feel good running three days a week for three or more miles, start working on your speed.

Keep your miles the same but start adding a little kick and see what you can do.

As a first time runner your primary goal is to be able to jog/run three miles comfortably. On race day your only goal is to finish. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.

How to safely run in the heat

The best advice is to try to avoid the hottest parts of the day. If you can run in the mornings or evenings when it is cooler, that is the best choice. If you do have to run in the heat do not push your speed or your distance. You want to take it easy.

You may want to choose a different route. Can you switch to a tree-lined street or a park? Can you use a treadmill in an air conditioned gym?

It’s a good idea to wear a hat and take a bottle of water with you. Almost all runners wear a hat. It shades your face and keeps the sun out of your eyes. If you run in hot conditions often, you should buy a running hat at the local running store.

I run races with a water bottle. Don’t feel like you can’t train with a water bottle.

Don’t feel like you have to prove anything. If you can only do one or two miles before you start to feel the effects of the heat, walk home. Your family will be impressed that you used your head and aren’t passed out on the sidewalk somewhere.

Hot days are often sunny days. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

I have run a marathon in 85º weather before. It can be done. But, as a new runner don’t be foolish and train in the heat unless you have to. Until you know how your body will react , play it safe. I have seen experienced runners fade on hot days. I’ve seen marathoners hauled away by EMTs.

Race day anxiety

Almost everyone I know feels the nerves before a race. It is totally normal and to be expected

There are things you can control and things you can’t. What can you do to reduce race day stress?

  • Get to your race early and not stress over parking or being late
  • Pack your gear the day before and don’t worry about checking it many times
  • Bring your own food and beverage, so you have what works for you

You can’t avoid race day nerves but you can control some of the contributing factors. A race is fun. Only a hand full of runners at most 5Ks are out to prove anything. Most are there to do their best and have a good time; just like you.

The info graphic above lists “How to prepare for your first 5K” as #7, and focuses on food.

Food and Hydration

Food is very important. Ryan Hall, a famous American runner, talks about how a meal the night before a race can ruin four months of training.

You are running a 5K, so don’t get too worked up about food. The rule of thumb is not to eat anything new the day before a race, or day of a race. For a 5K you don’t need to carbo-load or eat special foods.

Don’t eat a big heavy or greasy meal the night before. If you eat oatmeal every morning, that’s what you should eat race day morning. I try to avoid fiber since my race day nerves tend to move things along all on their own.

Hydration can make or break you. Just about every 5K I have ever run has a water stop around the half-way mark. Just make sure your race does.You may still want to carry your own water bottle on your first race.

My rule of thumb is to stop drinking anything an hour before my race. I drink plenty of coffee or water up until that point. I stop an hour before the race so my body has time to process most of what I drank earlier. This helps me avoid a porta-potty break during a race.

I often take a bottle of water with me on a marathon or half. You should take a bottle with you for your first 5K. Just before the start take a few drinks, but not much. If you need a drink before or after the water stop, you will be prepared. A bottle is a nice insurance policy.

Running YOUR race

The last and one of the most important tips for your first 5K, is to run YOUR race.  What do I mean by this? If you did the eight-week training plan, you’ve run three miles many times by race day. You know what a comfortable pace is for you.

On race day, all you need to do is run that pace. Run YOUR race. That’s what you’ve been training for. Your race, not the lycra wearing hotty’s next to you race.

For your first 5K all you want to do is finish. Once you have your finish time for your first race you can start to set goals and work on your PR (personal record). But that’s a subject of many books and another blog post.

Recovery and Cross Training

At the end of the race grab a bottle of water and any food items available. Chips are okay on race day, your body needs the carbs and salt. Don’t grab a ton of stuff, just a few items to help replenish your body. If you finish near the end of the race you may not have much to choose from, so the extra food you brought with you can be handy at the end of the race also.

Your best bet is to walk around after the race. The movement of your muscles helps increase blood flow which helps your body remove waste and bring in nutrients to aid in recovery. If you can’t walk or feel ill, seek medical attention.

When you get home a hot shower is a good idea. This will help relax your muscles and make you bearable to be around! If you have been stretching for your training runs, do that routine soon after your race.

As a new runner, I wouldn’t worry too much about cross training. I think it is more important to get the running routine built into your life first. Cross training is important and has running benefits. Running can take up a lot of your time and early on I think you should focus on making that time part of your weekly routine.

Let me know if you have questions.

Run well my friend and enjoy your first 5k.

Andy

Chillin on The Charles

Yesterday I went out for my 3rd run of the week to meet my New Year’s Commitment to do three runs each week. Since I was at work I jogged over to the Esplanade for a quick 5K.

All of the weather forecasts have been saying how nice it was going to be this week in the Boston area. “Nice” is a relative term and in January nice means freezing cold! It may have been 40 degrees out, but there was a nice gust coming off of the  Charles River. Going across The Longfellow Bridge my running clothes were no match for Jack Frost and Old Man River.

I was Chillin on the Charles

As I ran across the bridge I looked out at the river. It’s just fantastic to look and see the wild life and the flow of the river. This time of year there are no boats at all on the river. As I was enjoying the view I began to notice that the river was icing over! Now there is a sure sign that Winter is here.

I managed to run about 3.2 miles in 28:20. Not a record or anything but it counts as run #3 for the week. I can feel good about keeping my commitment into the first full week of the New Year. Today I will spend about 45 minutes doing stretching and strengthening exercises in the gym.

For the New Year

I’ve decided not to do a Friday Post every week. Sometimes I don’t have anything to say. When I’m struggling to develop a topic I spend less time working on the writing. I’d like to become a better writer and for me that means spending more time on the writing.

I plan on doing some updates and revisions to the blog also. I’ve been working on a blog roll page where I can have more control over what is on the blog roll. I follow over 250 other blogs. Some of them have nothing to do with running or fitness, some have a little bit to do with fitness but I like their other content.

Some are political or very opinionated and I don’t want to bring that into my blog. Just because I find it interesting or amusing doesn’t mean it belongs on a blog that is essentially about running, fitness and heath.

So with that I’ll close out this Friday Post and spare you my rant on driving and traffic this morning. There were some real jerks on the road today. Nuff said.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great long run this weekend.

Andy

© 2013 anagelin

Active Advantage 5K Training program Update

Active Advantage Training Update

Today I am on day 35 of the 54 day Active Advantage Intermediate 5K program and it has not been going well. Between the holidays and being sick for the past two weeks, I have missed a lot of training days.

I managed to run the Jingle Bell Run 5K on December 16th but then I didn’t run again until this week. This week I managed to run a 10K on the treadmill at my gym on Christmas Eve and another treadmill 10K yesterday. If I run again on Friday or Saturday I will hit my New Year Commitment to run three days a week. I like getting new habits established!

I am so far off track on this training program it is hilarious. It’s a good thing that I’m not really training for a 5K. If I was training for my first 5K it would not be a pretty site at the finish line. I think part of the reason I have been so lackadaisical is that I signed up for the program just to see what it was like.

I’ve never used a plan before and I’ve never had a coach. I just run as much, as fast as I can, when I train. Since I usually peek at 30 miles per week when I train for a marathon I never over train. It’s kinda impossible with so few miles per week.

I do need to add intervals and speed work to my routine. I also need to spend more time on hill work as the payoff for hill work on race day can be significant. I do need to develop a training plan for 2013. I need to be more disciplined and add new aspects to my training.

Running Tip

If you are new to running I would encourage you to try a training plan like the Active Advantage Couch to 5K or the Active Advantage Beginner 5K program. At the very least it will show you what you need to do, how to do it and give you a schedule to follow. As someone who is new to running you need that guidance. Otherwise it’s a crap shoot. You will be just like me when I started.

You can find free training programs on-line or in books at your local library. As someone beginning to run, a little guidance will go a long way.

Don’t worry if you miss a day or two while training. I’ve missed a lot more than that, but I’m still going to do my best to finish this plan. The important thing is not to get discouraged and give up. Everyone misses a day but they don’t quit because of that.

So that’s my plan-to-date update as pathetic as it is. If you are thinking about beginning running now is a good time to start. Any day is a good day to start. Just start running!

Happy Holidays and thanks for reading my ramblings!

© 2012 andrew nagelin

Active.com Intermediate 5K Program

Week 2 Active.com Intermediate 5K program

My total miles were 16.1 this week, which is not great. I planned to run 7 miles yesterday but I left all of my cold weather gear in the dryer at home. I tried to run in a singlet and a nylon vest, running shorts, running hat and cotton gloves. It was about 40 degrees out before accounting for wind chill.

As I ran across the Longfellow Bridge and the wind off of The Charles blew under my shirt, I quickly decided I would try for 5K instead of the 7 miles. That would still be okay.

As I ran along The Esplanade it became clear that I was woefully under dressed for the conditions and started looking for the 1.25 mile marker on my watch. I decided a 2.5 mile out and back was all I could manage. I have the Mill Cities Relay on Sunday and did not want to get sick.

I definitely need to buy more winter running clothes soon. A few years ago I gathered enough clothing for one really cold run. If those items do not make it through the laundry cycle I do not have enough clothes for my next cold weather run.

active advantage, active.com

  • Do you use a training program for your 5K races?
  • Are you a member of Active Advantage?
  • Do you like Active Advantage?

Have a great weekend and run well my friends!

©2012 anagelin