Regardless of gender, age and weight - anyone with no health contraindications can run 5 kilometers or 3 miles after several weeks of training.
If you have never been engaged in physical activity, the preparation to your first 5-km run will take a little longer than it takes in people with some experience. However, the training process is not likely to become boring for you but is going to bring bright colors to your daily lifestyle. Keep in mind that it is very difficult to keep working out consistently without proper motivation, so make sure you find it. Set your goal and stay consistent.
Mistakes of new runners
One of frequent mistakes of newcomers is a too intense start of their running workouts. As a result, a person can lose motivation and suffer from overloads.
The main principle to remember when you start running: use steady load increase, no more than 10% per week. The increase in training load can be carried out by changing one or several factors. It provides great opportunities for creativity of the runner and their coach. The training plan depends on the individual characteristics of the athlete.
At the first preparation stage, the basic means and methods include mixed movement (alternate walking with running) and continuous running at a steady pace. Later, more intensive forms of running can be used - interval running and repeated running.
A typical mistake of all beginners: they start running as fast as possible from the very first meters and try to work out at this level as much as they can. But it doesn’t work this way!
First, pay attention to the workout duration, not to the running speed. Increase the load gradually and run exactly as much as you can at the first preparation stage.
Trying to keep up with those who have been running for a long time, you won’t be able to achieve the desired result, but waste most of your energy.
It is best to find a professional coach, since proper running form plays an important role. It needs to be adjusted to your individual characteristics, so that later you had no need to correct something you are used to.
If there is no opportunity to hire a coach, then I recommend that you get a good training plan. You can either look for a standard one online or search for a competent online coach to write a customized one for you and to monitor your progress.
7 principles to get prepared for your first 5-km distance
- Start alternating fast walking and light running. Do 3 or 4 low-intensity workouts weekly (2 or 3 in the first week, no more). Each training session is followed by a rest day - so the body can adapt to the stresses. Previously, we wrote about 30 running rules, and one of them was “do no harm”. As far as the preparation for your first race is concerned, remember that overdoing is more dangerous than underdoing.
- Do not neglect dynamic stretching before training and static stretching after it.
- Remember that it is impossible to reach the goal right away. Do not compare yourself to someone, who may look much stronger, faster, and have better form. Believe me, everyone has started somewhere. Stay positive and motivated, believe in yourself and move towards your goal.
- Choose places for your workouts in advance. For beginners, park paths are most suitable. Moderately soft coating helps strengthen muscles and ligaments and reduces the risk of micro-injuries due to shock loading when running on asphalt and concrete.
- The more frequent you work out, the longer your muscles stay tuned. If you do just one workout per week, then each training session is a kind of stress for the body.
- In the first week of training, you may feel that the entire process is too easy, and you can significantly increase the load. Ignore this feeling, as it can lead to a sharp fatigue and, as a result, loss of motivation. Try to stick to your training plan.
- It is extremely important to start running in the properly chosen running shoes. Choose professional running shoes and avoid those for walking, tennis, basketball, etc. Purchase running sneakers that are a half-size or a size larger than your usual footwear. During the run, blood actively circulates in the body, therefore your feet may temporarily become a bit larger.
Standard training programs, commonly referred to as “from sofa to a 5-km run”, consist of 8 weeks. Do not forget about the individuality of each organism. Perhaps, for you, the training period can be reduced to 4 weeks.
Work out not more than 3-4 times a week, each running workout should last from 30 to 45 minutes.
During this period, a variety of physical exercises are used in a large volume to develop basic physical qualities - strength, speed and overall endurance. The experience of leading athletes and special studies show that it is advisable to take up to 60-75% of training time should be allocated for overall body conditioning. Main activities are light running with increasing duration, and later – interval running, with light and short accelerations.
Interval running is recommended to be added to the training plan not earlier than in the fifth week.
In the repeated and interval running, it is necessary to consider the following factors: the length of the distances, the running speed, the number of runs, rest intervals duration, the rest type.
Nutrition tips for runners
For any type of physical activity, it is important to eat clean, providing the body with the necessary energy and facilitating rapid post-workout recovery. Stay consistent with your nutrition plan and change your eating habits gradually, to let the body slowly get rid of cravings.
Experts recommend adhering to the following ratio: carbohydrates - 50%, proteins - 30%, fats - 20%. Carbohydrates are called "runner’s fuel". It is very important to consume high-quality carbohydrates, which are easily digested.
During the first hour after the workout the body needs enough calories to restore muscles. But it doesn’t mean that you need to empty the stock of the nearest bakery. Couples of bananas and a gainer drink are enough.
Breathing during the run
Many beginners face difficulties breathing when they run.
The fact is that running (even at a low speed) significantly increases the body's oxygen demand. Breathing only through the nose doesn’t supply enough oxygen. As a result, oxygen deficiency is created very quickly, which leads runners to the only possible action – they stop to catch their breath. To prevent this from happening, use mixed breathing: inhale simultaneously through the nose and mouth, which will greatly increase the rapid flow of oxygen into the lungs.
Sample plan to get prepared for the first 5-km or 3-mile distance
Week 1. Adaptation
It should include easy running and walking. Run lightly (in a low heart rate zone) for 1-3 minutes, then switch to fast walk for about 5 minutes. The total duration of this alternation is 15-20 minutes. Watch your breath. 2-3 workouts a week are recommended.
Week 2. Three workouts a week
This week includes alternating running and walking the following way: 2 minutes of running + 2 minutes of walking, repeat for 20 minutes. Keep the proper form. It is necessary to perform a dynamic stretching before and after the workout. Add some general conditioning exercises and special exercises for runners (they target muscles and ligaments that are most active when running).
Week 3. Workout and recovery schedule is the same
During this week you develop cardio-endurance. Continue to alternate walking with running, but this time increase the amount of running: 3 minutes running + 2 minutes fast walking. The total duration of such session is 25-30 minutes. Include special exercises for runners in your workout. Do a short series of 5-6 exercises, 50 meters each. Increase the number of general conditioning exercises series.
Week 4. Start more intensive workouts
The number of workouts per week is 4. Gradually remove the walking intervals and go to a continuous run. Target for 15-20 minutes of continuous running. Increase in the series of special exercises for runners (2-3 series). Add general conditioning exercises.
Week 5. Development of general physical endurance
The number of workouts per week is 4. Start from continuous running for 20-25 minutes. Include interval training in the plan:
- jogging as a 10-minute warm-up;
- 5-10 minutes of stretching;
- interval distances (acceleration) 5 times for 30 seconds, alternating with a light jog for 3 minutes;
- static stretching for 5 minutes;
- jogging as a 10-minutes cool-down.
Interval training will help you develop speed and endurance.
Week 6. Increase in intensity and duration of run
Work out every other day. The number of interval workouts is 2. On the other training days, you do continuous running for 30-35 minutes. The number of general conditioning series is increasing. The number of special exercises for runners is increasing.
Week 7. Similar to the week 6
The duration of continuous running is increased to 35-40 minutes.
Week 8. Pre-competition
The number of workouts is 3-4. The intensity of training is reduced. The number of interval workouts is 1. It is recommended to make a rest day before the race.
Preparing to overcome your first distance, even a short one, requires a good psychological attitude and a clear motivation. The overwhelming number of newcomers, having overcome their first 5-kilometer barrier, understand that all obstacles are just in our head. Usually they start preparing for more impressive distances.