Running is a great way to build muscle-strength for hiking and trekking adventures.
A distance of 5 kilometres is something many beginner runners strive to achieve.
The good thing about this distance is that it is short enough to be achieved in a few weeks if you are completely new to running, but it is also long enough for experienced runners to feel they’ve had a decent workout.
Running your first 5k may seem like a hard challenge, but once you begin training you may surprise yourself with your achievements.
Here are some top tips on running your first 5k.
If you are new to running, don’t expect to be able to run 5k straight away.
The best way for your body to cope with the demands of running is to build up your stamina slowly.
One way to do this is to aim for 30 minutes of walking/jogging three times per week.
As you improve, you will find that you are able to run for longer during those 30 minute training sessions.
However you begin your 5k training, it is important to gradually build up your distance.
It takes time for the body to adapt to exercise it is not used to, and over-running could cause injuries that could see you back on the sofa for weeks.
On the days that you are not running, go for long walks if you are able to.
This gets your body used to being on its feet for the required distance, and more.
Work on Strength Training
Running is a cardiovascular activity, in that it gets your heart pumping and oxygen circulating.
But, strength training is also key to becoming a better runner.
Your ‘core’ is a group of muscles in the centre of your body that affects balance and coordination.
When you have a strong core, you’ll have an efficient posture when running, improve your stride and increase power.
Try to incorporate strength training for your core muscles twice per week.
This could include exercises such as planks and sit-ups, or you could do some yoga sessions.
Vary your Routes
Running the same old routes every time is a quick way to get bored with your training.
Try some new routes, incorporate some off-road paths, hilly routes, go deep into the countryside or try an urban jog, anything that is different from the usual.
Expect Ups and Downs
Not many people can run a full 5k after just a few training sessions.
There will be times when running feels tough on your body, and there will be other times when you will actually enjoy running.
Sometimes you’ll think ‘surely there are better ways to get fit,’ and other times you will feel born to run!
How you feel during training runs will vary, and that is due to a host of factors.
Your level of tiredness, how frequently you have been training, the food you eat, or other things going on in your life, can all affect how you feel physically and mentally as you run.
One thing that is guaranteed is that even if you have a hard run, you will feel better for doing it.
If you can show up when you don’t feel like it and take one step at a time, no matter how slowly, you are well on your way to getting your first 5k.
Food is fuel for the body. Eat too much of the wrong types of fuel, and your body won’t work as it should.
In order to run 5 kilometres, energise your body by eating a varied, healthy diet.
Before your training, make sure you eat something that provides sustained energy.
Simple carbohydrates such as oatmeal, toast, peanut butter and bananas are great for providing fuel for your run, without sitting too heavy in the stomach.
Eat an hour or so before your training, as running to soon after eating can make you feel sluggish.
What you eat after your runs will also help your body recover quickly.
Eat something rich in protein to help your muscles repair and strengthen. Lean meats, fish, cottage cheese, and eggs are all examples of protein rich foods that are good for post-run recovery.
Run with Friends
The joy of running is that it is a social or solitary exercise, depending on your preference.
But, if you are looking to run your first 5k, having a friend to train with can increase your motivation.
Having a chat as you run can make the tough parts feel easier, as you are distracted from how your body feels and you can cheer each other on!
When training with a friend, you are less likely to skip sessions as you are ‘in it together’ and hold one another accountable.
If you don’t have a friend to run with, consider joining a local running group in your area.
You don’t have to be a super runner, as most groups welcome all ages and abilities.
The Right Gear
The good thing about running your first 5k is that you don’t need a load of expensive clothing or equipment.
What you do need though, is a good pair of running shoes.
You don’t have to shell out on expensive trainers, but you should invest in a decent pair that is going to give your feet the support they need when running regularly.
For women, a supportive sports bra is also an essential piece of clothing that will make running much more comfortable.
Another handy piece of kit is a basic GPS watch so you can track your distance, but a smartphone app can work as well.
Keep Track of Progress
Each time you run, use an app or a GPS watch and note down the distance and pace per mile or kilometre.
Some apps will automatically do this for you. This will show you how much you are improving, and give you motivation for your next run.
Enter a Race
There nothing like a deadline or goal to get you up and out the door!
Entering a 5k race may seem daunting, but actually you will find running communities to be supportive of every level of ability.
When entering a 5k race, you don’t have to race against others. Instead, just race against yourself and aim for a personal best.
Parkrun is one example of a weekly 5k race that takes place every week, all over the UK and beyond.
It is free to enter, there will be one near to where you live, and you will make lots of new running buddies.
For those who are generally healthy, achieving a 5k running distance is easily do-able provided you are committed to regular training.
However, if you have health conditions or are recovering from injury, it is best to speak with your doctor before beginning.
Going from a novice to completing a 5k run is something that anyone can be proud of.
It will not only improve your overall health and fitness, but it may even ignite a passion for running that could change your life for the better.
Go for it!