Think you could never run a 5K? Don’t worry, starting a new sport can be daunting, and if you are a novice it’s completely normal to feel nervous about running. We’ve compiled a beginner’s guide to running a 5K to set you off with your best foot forward.
Beginner’s Guide to Running
Where to begin
First, why start running? There are so many reasons; it clears the mind, can be both a social sport and a solo venture, it can be impromptu, easily fitting into busy schedules, and really suits anyone from a steady jogger to a speedy sprinter. It’s a sport that welcomes all and can truly change your life.
Anyone can do it, but if you aren’t already very active it’s best to follow a plan to help start your fitness journey. You don’t want to overdo it by pushing yourself too much, and with a little forethought you’ll be surprised how quickly you improve week on week.
If you’re thinking of running outdoors, plan a route in advance that will bring you back to where you started and is reasonably flat so you don’t exhaust yourself running uphill.
Don’t stop after your first few runs, they will quite honestly be the hardest you will ever do and it’s likely you’ll feel stiff the following day. This is perfectly normal and will not last forever, although if you continue to be in pain after running it’s advisable to see your GP.
How to prepare
Confused about what to eat? There’s a whole industry devoted to optimising your run and recovery, but for most casual runners a balanced diet is sufficient to provide you with all you need to fuel your training. As a rule, your body digests simple carbohydrates quicker than protein.
A quick snack of peanut butter on a bagel or porridge at least two hours before you run will be more than enough. Post-run be sure to eat your next meal as soon as you can to aid your recovery.
Running can be really inexpensive! Armed with a top, shorts, and a pair of trainers you are ready to take on the world, although it is worth investing in some quality footwear over the fancy fitness tracking watches as a beginner.
Most running shops will analyse your gait for free (again, a cheap sport!) to recommend the best shoes for your particular running style. This will give you a great foundation starting out, and help to minimise injury.
What to do
Now you’re all kitted out, where to begin? Kick off your 5K training with short running intervals, walking in between to recover. Try jogging for one minute and then walking for one minute, repeating this ten times in one session. Slowly increase your running time by one minute and reduce your recovery walk for each session, until you can run for thirty minutes without stopping.
Don’t start out running too fast as your body needs time to adjust to this new exercise, try to keep to a moderate pace (where you could still hold a conversation) to gradually improve your stamina, and achieve your longterm goal of running 5K.
Proper form is vital for reducing risk of injury, but it also makes the run more enjoyable overall. Avoid landing on your heel or toes first and try not to hunch your shoulders. Breathe deeply and rhythmically rather than quick and shallow breaths. If you get a stitch, just slow down your pace a little until the pain eases off, but be sure to keep moving!
Lastly, remember that your body needs time to recover! It’s great if your first run goes well, but leave a day’s rest in between training so your body can fully prepare for your next run, so take care of yourself. This simple beginner’s guide to running will help you see fantastic progress in your prep, and hopefully empower you to start training!
Still think you can’t run a 5K? Why not surprise yourself and give it a go?