Running is a great way to get fit, healthy and set new goals for yourself. As one Back on My Feet Alumni member puts it, “Running forces you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Pushing through a tough run, no matter the length or intensity can give you confidence and a sense of accomplishment. If you’re a beginner or thinking about running for the first time, we suggest training for a 5k.
Set a goal
You don’t need prior running experience to train for a 5k or 3.1 miles. It’s a distance that welcomes walkers, joggers, and runners alike. But, before you hit the pavement, it’s important to set a goal. A great place to start is signing up for a race, which is the perfect way to seal your commitment to running. Make sure to give yourself time to prepare by choosing a race that is at least two months away (see if there is a Back on My Feet 5k race coming up near you).
Once you pick a race, it’s time to start training! We recommend starting with three 20-30-minute runs and one additional distance run a week. If you’re not ready to run for 20 minutes straight, consider a run-walk combination (ex. run for 30 seconds, walk for 30 seconds and repeat). As you build your endurance, increase your time spent running in increments of 15-30 seconds.
For your fourth run of the week focus on miles instead of time. At the beginning of your training cycle, start with a 2-mile distance run. Each week gradually increase this run to be up to 5 miles. Running further than your race distance will help you crush your 5k with confidence. But, be careful not to go up in mileage too quickly. You don’t want to get hurt before race day.
Pro Tip: Keep track of your progress! This includes running time, mileage, weather conditions and even how you feel mentally and physically during runs. Looking for patterns in your training can help you avoid injury and assess when you need rest days.
Join a team
If you’re looking for a little extra motivation, joining a running group can help hold you accountable for your training. Get connected with your local running store to see when they hold group runs or do a quick search for running clubs in your area. Different groups meet at various times and days throughout the week, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding a group that fits into your schedule. Like early mornings? Consider volunteering with Back on My Feet once a week!
- A good pair of shoes- Not all shoes are built for running! Before putting in the miles, get fitted for a pair of shoes by the experts at your local running store. The most important thing is that your shoes feel comfortable while running.
- Warm up and cool down- Prepare your body for the run ahead by warming up your muscles through dynamic stretching (jumping jacks are a Back on My Feet favorite). Try this quick routine! After your run, be sure to cool down and let your heart rate drop by taking 5-10 minutes to slowly jog or walk around.
- Fuel your run and hydrate- Eating right and keeping up with your water levels are especially crucial as you build up mileage. Make sure you’re drinking enough water before and after your run, as well as maintaining a well-balanced diet. Don’t forget to treat yourself (in moderation, of course)- you earned it!
Our #1 piece of advice for race day is to stay true to your routine and treat it like any other day. Eat your go-to pre-run breakfast, lace up the shoes you’ve been training in and head out the door for a fun morning run.
Remind yourself that you put in the work and don’t fret the things you can’t control (like weather!). At Back on My Feet, we honor this by starting an ending every run with the Serenity Prayer. Consider reciting a word or motto that helps keep you grounded and relaxed before you head to the start line. You got this!