Tips to Prepare for Your First 5k

I think I’ve convinced my little sister and stepmom to do a Color Run 5k with me in the summer! It’s dubbed “the happiest 5k on the planet,” which I think is why it appealed to my first-time-5k family members! The promo video is what really got them on board, but now reality is setting in and neither one of them has ever run 3 miles! They're freaking out a bit, but I assured them, it's getting warmer and staying light out longer- it's the perfect time to start training!

I understand how they feel, though. I remember being extremely nervous before my first 5k! (That's me stretching in the photo below!) Luckily, most of the run was downhill, but I did it alone and that didn’t help my nerves one bit! I distinctly remember when the endorphins hit, though, and I felt on top of the world- “Look at me! I’m running a 5k!” I even named it one of my top five memories of 2009, along with getting engaged!

TIPS-FOR-5K

I hope my sister and stepmom will get that same rush and maybe, just maybe, they'll continue to run! Here’s a few tips I put together to help get them from the starting line to the finish!

Training:

1. Run (and if you can’t run, walk): The old saying “practice makes perfect” has stuck around for a reason- it’s true! There’s no better way to prepare for a run (whether it’s a 5k or 10k) than to run. Don’t worry if you’re not a runner (yet!), walking will help you on race day! Just try to cover the distance first, then worry about running it straight through.

2. Stretch Your Limits: If you can run comfortably for 1 mile, try to run 1.5 or 2 at some point before race day. If you can comfortably walk 3 miles, stretch your limits and walk 5. The further you can push yourself pre-race, the more confident and prepared you’ll be when race day arrives!

3. Start Thinking Like a Runner: Runner’s World is a great resource. Pick up a copy to get into a runner’s mindset! You’d be surprised how little running tips on breathing, stance, etc. will pop into your mind during the race (or during training), and help you through!

4. Dress Rehearse: When you go for those long practice walk/runs, make sure your comfortable in your gear. Are your shorts bunching when you run? (That drives me crazy!) If so, that’s going to annoy you on race day and you may want to try a pair of leggings instead. Same goes for socks, sneakers, bras, and t-shirts! You wanna make sure you’ve got your outfit laid out and you know it’s going to be comfortable!

Race Day:

1. Develop a Mantra: My mantra during the Philadelphia Marathon was “Pain is temporary. Finishing is forever!” It sounds crazy, but it REALLY helped! I was dealing with IT-band issues, so pain was a definite concern. When I saw it on the sign of a nearby supporter, it stuck with me through till the end!

2. Believe in Yourself: I fell in love with running because anybody can do it. You don’t have to be athletic or thin, you just need will power. Believing in yourself is more than half the battle- believing in yourself will get you to the finish line! KNOW and BELIEVE that you CAN do this!

3. Get your playlist ready: What songs fire you up? Music is an excellent motivator and it’s always a good idea to have some tunes handy to pump you up when you’re low on fuel. Some of my favorite running songs are “Dog Days are Over” (Ever noticed the lyrics, “You better run fast for your mother… for your brother…” ? I didn’t either until I played this on repeat in Philly!) and Lady Gaga’s "The Edge of Glory” because it makes me feel powerful, strong, and like I’M on the edge of glory!

4. Hydrate: Water is crazy important for running because if you’re not hydrated, you’ll burn out (quick)! However, keep in mind that having to pee during a race can be really, really annoying (think long lines/port-a-potties), so drink up the night before and DURING the race. Pre-race, take it easy. Electrolytes are awesome too: Consider running with Gatorade or some gel packs, which can give you a bigger boost than water!

Have you ever run a 5K?

If not, what are some of your concerns? If so, what are your recommendations?

PS: Check out these photos I found searching through old blog posts about running [while planning my wedding]).

Here's a picture of me before my first 5k:

5k

Here's me after:

euphoria

Do you see the euphora? The excitement? The joy? ... Yea, running is pretty awesome :) You should totally try it!