Completing your first 5K (3.1 miles) might seem like a daunting task, but you're totally capable of finishing the distance! We're smack in the middle of spring 5K season (one of my favorite times of year), so there is certainly no lack of opportunity. This is also a great time to move your running routine outdoors or to start a running routine if you don't have one. Here are five tips if you're looking to complete your first 5K race or a running event:
First 5K – Have a Goal
A realistic goal is “I will cross the finish line” if this is your first race and you're not a regular runner. And you know what? That's fine. A finish is a finish, I tell my personal training clients. You've set out to accomplish something and you've done it. That's a win.
First 5K: Pace Yourself
Pace yourself especially if this is your first race. It's okay to be the slowest person at the start. Often, it's the slower starters who finish stronger and faster. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? I prefer to find a sustainable pace and stick with it; my husband prefers to start slow and run each mile faster than the previous. Others prefer a run/walk method. Again, as long as you finish, how you get there is up to you.
First 5K: Proper Footwear
If you're planning to run regularly for fitness, purchase have proper footwear. Go to a specialty running store, get fitted for shoes that match your stride, and run happy. Bite the bullet and pay the price for the shoes in these stores (which will be more expensive). These are usually small, locally-run businesses that are integral in the running community. Plus, they tend to have liberal returns policies on shoes, because these people want you to enjoy running or walking for fitness. Do not go to the big box sporting goods retailer and expect to find the perfect pair of running shoes. You will find some cute sneakers you can wear for fashion, which is fine. How do you know if you're in a legit running store? You'll be given a pair of shoes and shown to a treadmill, where your feet will be filmed as you run.
First 5K: Hydrate
Companies like FuelBelt and Nathan offer some great options to carry or wear as you run, which is necessary for training during the warm summer months. Hydration is a very important part of successful training and racing.
First 5K: Have Fun
If it's a neighborhood race, chances are, you'll have a fair amount of spectators along the course. Give some high fives, thank the water table volunteers, smile at the crowds! Enjoy the 3.1 miles and try to remember as much as you can, especially if it's your first race. Take a mental picture as you cross the finish line, and you'll have an image that will fuel your future workouts.
Find more tips in Running for Rookies. Are you thinking about entering your first 5K race? Do you have some great memories from your first race?