Photo: fabio formaggio via 123RF

By Women’s Wellness

Fall 5Ks are just around the corner, and now is the perfect time to begin training. The warm summer days and sunshine make it the perfect atmosphere to get outside and start running!

Running may seem like a daunting task, but surprisingly, it can be a great stress reliever and gets easier and easier the more you do it. Remember, it is perfectly okay if you cannot run a full mile right now. And with this guide to getting started, you’ll be well on your way to tackling that 3.1-mile race—and enjoying the pride that goes with it!

You Have to Walk Before You Can Run

Yes, it sounds a bit cliché, but the best way to prepare your body for running is to go for a daily walk. This gets your muscles moving and prepares your body for a light jog. Plus, walking is a fun pastime that gives you fresh air and the beauty of nature. It’s especially enjoyable if you tune into your favorite podcast! Once you are ready, mix in a bit of light jogging while you’re on your walk and slowly build up to running.

Create a Plan—and Stick to It!

Now that you know what to do daily, create a training plan—and the sooner, the better. That way, you can be fully prepared for your race. Many experts say your body needs about a month to get used to running. The best way to train is to be consistent and run a little each day along with the daily walks. Start slow and run ½ a mile for a week, then 1 mile, then 1.5 miles, then 2 miles, and finally 3 miles, building on each week from the one before. Also, be sure to take 1-2 rest days each week, and consider alternating your workouts with strength training to ensure you are getting a full-body workout each week.

Photo: aekkarak thongjiew via 123RF

Take Advantage of Those Online Videos

There are plenty of videos available online that provide guidance for training for a 5K. Holabird Sports has a YouTube video with five tips for success for your first 5K, along with insights into shoes and their performance. Global Triathlon Network also has several beginner videos on its YouTube channel. Plus, you can view its full weekly walk-run guide here.

Your Diet Play a Big Role, Too

While physical training is important, eating a healthy, well-rounded diet is also critical to succeeding in your first 5K. Make sure you’re eating enough protein, vegetables, fruits, and carbs to give you the proper balance of energy and to nourish your body on the recovery days. Plus, be sure you’re refueling your body after a training session with something like a protein shake or smoothie, a bowl of fruit, or peanut butter toast. The key is to be mindful of the foods you’re eating and to avoid sugary, processed foods, alcohol, and junk food.

Make Sleep a Priority

Getting a full night’s sleep is essential for muscle recovery and increasing your overall well-being. A good night’s rest will also boost your chances of being able to train the next day without feeling lethargic or stressed. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends adults ages 18 to 60 get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Adults ages 61 and older should get anywhere from 7 to 9 hours a night. If you’re struggling to fall or stay asleep, talk to your doctor about it.

With this beginner guide, you can take that first step towards training that will put you on the path to conquering your first 5K—and that’s a heck of a feeling of accomplishment!

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