How to Crush Your First 5K

How to Crush Your First 5K

Three things put running on my brain this week: 

  • Today, there’s four weeks to go until Thanksgiving, and several of my clients are preparing for their first 5K Turkey Trot (or training to improve last year’s time)
  • This week’s New York Times article “Why Running Won’t Ruin Your Knees,” which is most excellent
  • This week, 6 weeks out from the birth, I am able to walk on the treadmill on an incline. As per my physical therapist’s instructions, this is the closest I will get to running for another 6 weeks, so I am jealous of all you recreational runners out there!

In short, today’s blog post is an attempt to live vicariously through you!

Do you love the idea of doing your first 5K (or the first in awhile) four weeks from now? Would it help to motivate you to get and stay active? Are you looking for ways to start moving more as the weather slides into autumn and it seems like COVID isn’t going anywhere? In this blog post, I’m going to give you five tips for preparing for your first 5K in a relatively short amount of time. 

Mindset for Your First 5K

Tip #1

First of all, if you’re a new runner or it’s been awhile, it’s very important that you accept walk/run intervals as “running.”

So many times, I hear clients sheepishly admit to spending some time walking during a race. But there’s no shame in this! When I coached Girls on the Run at an elementary school, I loved the mantra to “keep moving forward,” whether you’re walking or running. 

Walk/run intervals count as running. End of story.

Tip #2

Secondly, even if you’re running continuously, focus on the distance, not on the pace. Trust me: you’ll get faster the more you run. Once you’ve had a good experience with your first 5K, you can always work on speed.

Gear for Your First 5K

Tip #3

My next tip has to do with gear. Make sure you have: 

  • Good running shoes
  • For women, the right sports bra

These two items will make it easier, healthier, and more fun to run your first 5K!

For shoes, I recommend the brands Asics and Brooks. Ideally, you would get fitted at a running store, but most people do fine with a stability shoe.

For bras, I recommend the Brooks Moving Comfort brand. They’re sized by band and cup, which typically works better for bras than a XS/S/M/L sizing system. Their high impact bras, especially the Juno, are excellent.


Tip #4

Finally, let’s talk about actually training for your first 5K in just a month!

First of all, don’t make the mistake of running seven days a week. You can’t “cram” for a race – there’s no way to make up for lost time training. 

Instead, run 2-3 times per week. If you’re very new to running, I recommend using walk/run intervals to build up your distance while gradually conditioning your muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons to the impact of running. 

If you walk regularly, run occasionally, and want to be ready for a run-walk 5K in four weeks, click here to download my 4-week plan.
Tip #5

Last, don’t forget that to be the fastest and healthiest runner you can possibly be, you need to strength train. 

Specifically for running, we want to focus on building up the strength and stability of your glutes, legs, and core so that all of your joints can handle the (good) stress of running. 

To be truly fit to run, try out some of these exercises at least twice per week. These are just a small selection of what I would recommend, and if you want more individualized recommendations, get in touch!

Hip Warmups – 2 sets of 30 seconds, as wide as you can go

Short Angle Side Plank with 3-Way Leg Lift – 2 sets of 10 reps/side

Squat Hold – 2 sets of 20-30 seconds

Hollow Hold – 2 sets of 20-30 seconds

Single Leg Bridge with Squeeze – 2 sets of 10-20 seconds per side

Split Squat – 2 sets of 10 reps/side