So You Registered for Your First 5k, Now What?
To a lot of beginning runners, successfully completing your first 5k is a lofty and hopeful goal. Even loftier, is the expectation of crossing the finish line of this first race on your feet – rather than crawling or being carried across it. It’s an understandably intimidating goal, but certainly not an impossible one, and achieving it will be an exhilarating accomplishment that reflects your dedication, physical fitness, and mental strength.
First and foremost is the training required to get your body properly conditioned to run for such an extended period of time and distance. The training period usually spans 8-10 weeks prior to race day and incorporates endurance training, cross training, and even necessary rest days. Diligent and appropriate adherence to the recommended training program will be the key to your success. Couch to 5K and Runner's World have excellent 5k training templates for contenders who are new to the running scene and ready to take home the gold on race day!
In addition to the necessary pre-5k training, other aspects of preparation should be practiced:
Stretching – Going from little-to-no running to a full-blown 5k training program will undoubtedly have a few effects on your body, primarily your muscular system. To avoid experiencing muscle cramps and soreness that could last for days, it is important to stretch both before and after your runs. Active.com provides a useful list of effective pre-run and post-run stretches.
Running Fuel – Before a run it is important to ensure that your body is sufficiently fueled for the workout ahead. Running on an empty stomach is never a good idea; however, running on a full stomach isn’t either. Small snacks are your best bet, especially ones that are low in fat, low in fiber, and easy to digest. Perfect pre-running snack options can be found here.
Hydration – Running performance is directly related to how hydrated – or dehydrated – your body is. Muscles are 70% water, meaning that well-hydrated muscles perform exponentially better than thirsty ones. Adequate hydration is important during every phase of a run: before, during, and after. Make sure you follow these guidelines to secure hydration every step of the way!
Keep these things in mind and you are well on your way to an amazing 5k experience. Ready, set, good luck!