GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- Whether your goal is to improve your fitness level, a sense of community or a sense of personal accomplishment, training for a race is a great way to jump start your fitness.
Too many new runners start out with too much, too soon. They end up injured and discouraged and wonder why anyone likes running. But, if you train smart and slowly - you can be race day ready for your 5k in eight weeks.
Coolrunning.com has a great program for going from "the couch to a 5k" in just two months.
A 5k (3 miles) is the perfect distance for the runner who is finally ready to take part in a race, or the total beginner just starting to run. Being such a popular distance, you can find one almost any weekend in nice weather without having to drive too far. (Check out Anderson Race Management and Active.)
If you've never participated in a race, you are in for a new and exciting experience. By the time you cross that finish line, you will feel so good that you'll probably go online that night and start looking for more events.
Get a few friends, co workers, family members - start a training program, sign up for a race and enjoy!
Start with the basic needs:
-Most important are running shoes. You need athletic shoes made for running - no substitutes will do.
-You'll also want to get some athletic socks, ideally ones that are made of a wicking type fabric like cool max®. Cotton socks can be your first set back when your feet develop blisters from the wet fabric rubbing.
-Next concern is what you will wear. Make sure it is comfortable and can wick away moisture to keep you cool. A lightweight jacket that can be tied around the waist when you get home is a smart piece for this time of year.
-Another fun accessory is a heart rate monitor. You can pace yourself and keep track of your calories burned and zones.
-Water or lack there of can make or break your training runs. You need 4-6 oz for every 15 minutes of exercise to stay properly hydrated. Get a belt that holds a water bottle while you run.
Start the run/walk program:
Check out this Couch to 5K training program. It's a doable run/walk program that is a 3 day a week.
To avoid burnout or injury, do not push your limits, especially in the first 3 to 4 weeks of training. Injury is one of the biggest disappointments to training so make sure you have allowed enough time to build up your endurance and muscles. Remember that your main goal is to reach the finish line. For your first race you should plan on keeping a realistic pace and feeling great about your newest accomplishment.
Support your community:
Since running and walking are such great and easy ways to stay in shape, 5k races have dramatically increased in popularity! By participating and paying an entry fee, you are supporting a larger cause and meeting fellow enthusiasts who share similar interests and goals. A local 5k race is a great way to get in shape and improve your health and fitness including your well-being.
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