Dexter Ann Arbor is a little less than four weeks away – can you feel the excitement? No? Well, I can. It may be a little late to start training effectively for the half-marathon if you’re new to running, but fear not – there’s always the 5k.
Hmm. That cheer of enthusiasm sounded an awful lot like a groan of despair. But trust me, 5K races are so much fun you’ll actually find yourself wanting to exercise more. Strange, I know, but true.
Taking part in a 5K is an amazing experience – and not just because of the running. 5Ks are everywhere these days. The races are incredibly festive, like one big athletic carnival, with runners in colorful outfits, booths set up to show off cool new gear and nutritious food, and crowds of friends and family and random spectators there to join in the fun.
And then there’s the run itself. Completing your first race gives you an amazing sense of accomplishment and purpose, whether you come in first or finish 20 minutes behind everyone else.
Life these days can be pretty uncertain – just look at the politics in Washington – and who knows what next week will be like, much less tomorrow. But finishing a 5K gives you a sense of control, of confidence. You set yourself a goal, and you accomplish it.
Once you do that, you feel like you can do anything.
But as cool and accessible as a 5K is, preparation is still important. We are, after all, talking about a little over three miles. It still is a good idea to take some specific steps to get ready for your first race, which may require a solid 30-35 minutes of jogging at a steady pace.
This plan will get you ready to run a 5K with four weeks of training. Because time is limited, we’re going to focus less on speed and more on building endurance.
Week 1: Guess what? We’re only running four days this week! Do three miles a day, the first mile running, the second walking, and the third running again. Total miles: 12. If this sounds too much to you, then run a half-mile and walk a half mile instead of one mile. Total is still 12 miles.
Week 2: We’re still only running four days this week, but we’re upping the mileage on two of them. On days one and three, do a total of four miles – running the first mile, walking the second, then running two more. On days two and four stick with the same plan as last week. Total miles: 14.
Week 3: This week we’ll add a mile to days two and four as well. So each day you’ll run one mile, walk one mile, then run two more. Total miles: 16.
Week 4: This week we reduce the walking. On days one and three, run three miles in a row. Keep days two and four the same as last week, running one mile, walking one, then running two more. Total miles: 14.
Option 2: Don’t increase the miles, just keep it at 12 each week.
Tips for Race Day:
* Before the race, jog slowly for 10 minutes to warm-up. Do some gentle stretching. It will get your heart rate up and muscles loose.
* When the gun goes off, don’t start off fast with the masses. If you expend too much energy at the start, it’ll be harder to finish strong. Start conservatively and push hard in the last half of the race.
* Have fun!