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Training Like a Champion Part 1

Get Ready for a 5K

 You’ve been jogging casually to get in shape, and you think you’re finally ready to tackle a 5K. Congratulations! 5Ks, 3.1 miles, are a great way to get into the racing scene. If you’re a seasoned runner, 5Ks are a great way to improve your speed. Anyone can train for a 5K at any experience level.

 Here are some tips for training for your next 5K. We break it down for beginners and seasoned runners alike, so anyone can take advantage of these suggestions. Feel free to pick and choose the approach that would work best with your body. Everyone is different, and you don’t want to push yourself too hard. Running is supposed to be fun!

So, let’s start with the basics.

Getting Started

You don’t have to go out swinging when running a 5K. Start slow and build up. You can do this by jogging until you are tired, then walking for a bit. Jogging for a  minute, walking for a minute, or if you’re more of an experienced runner--just take a 30-minute relaxed jog to start your 5k training.

 Say you’re new to running a 5K and you want to slowly build up your endurance. Try running for a minute then walking for a minute for 30 minutes straight. Continue this exercise 4 days a week for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks pass, increase the time to two minutes. For the next four weeks, run for two minutes, then walk for two minutes. Gradually increase your time until you can run continuously for 30 minutes. This is a great way for any beginner to build up the endurance needed to complete a 5K.

 If you’re a seasoned runner looking for a more solid training structure, you should always incorporate an “easy pace day” into your training. A training day with an easy pace allows you to keep up your training momentum while giving your body the rest it needs to recover properly. You could also use your “easy pace days” to build your training distance to 4 miles. It’s always great to train yourself to run further than the race you’re training for. 

Build Momentum

Once you’re able to run the distance of 5K, now it’s time to turn it up a notch. You don’t want to just complete the race--you want to finish with your best time. When running, your biggest opponent should be the clock, and with a few of these momentum building exercises your next 5K will be your best time yet.

Split training is probably one of the best ways to increase your speed when running a 5K. Start with a 5-minute jog to get warmed up. Don’t overdo it! This will ease you into the workout. After your warm-up, run at a pace just below your sprint for a one-minute burst, then slow back down to your warm-up jog or a brisk walk for another minute. Repeat these bursts six to eight times, then cool down with another 5-minute jog. Just like in our “getting started” workouts--you can increase the split and cool down minutes as you get better.

You can simply do a momentum building workout consisting of a half a mile warm-up, a substantial 3-mile run at a decent pace, then a half a mile cool down. This will get you used to running the distance needed to run a 5K at an aggressive pace.

You can also add hills to your weekly training routine. Find a particularly intimidating hill in your neighborhood, then take a light jog or a brisk walk there. Once at the hill, run splits up the hill and walk back down. Do this six to eight times. This type of workout will help build your strength and endurance. Two things that can make a huge difference when running a successful 5K.

Strength Training

It’s extremely important that you diversify your workouts while training for a 5K. You should be running 3-4 days a week, and use the other days to take care of yourself and your body. Strength training is a great way to build muscle, which is how you avoid injury during your running workouts. Here are a few strength training workouts you should start incorporating into your weekly routine.

Squats. You guessed it, the go-to exercise for butt enthusiasts is also a great strength training workout for a pair of legs training for a 5K. You should do three sets of 15-25 squats to get the heart pumping. The best way to measure a rep’s effectiveness is by working your muscles to fatigue. In other words, squat until you can’t squat anymore. You can also do lunges and calf raises to strengthen those leg muscles.

You can also incorporate weights into your strengthening routine. Just make sure the weight is enough to increase muscle tension, but not too much to injure yourself. Deadlifts are a great strength exercise for when you’re training for a 5K. Just make sure to move slow and with control to avoid injury. 

Abs are important too. Work your abs by incorporating Roman Twists into your workout routine. This is a great workout that doesn’t just strengthen your abs--it also helps with balance. This exercise can also strengthen your obliques and enhance flexibility--two very important things you need when running a 5K.

Cross-Training

Like we said before, it’s important to diversify your exercise when training for a 5K. Cross-training is a great way to mix up your workouts and give your body the eclectic exercise it needs. Your cross-training can be as simple as cycling one day a week or taking that Boot Camp you’ve been meaning to try. You can join an online community like Beachbody and get access to hundreds of workouts for a small monthly fee. 

All that matters is that you’re working out in a different way. Training other parts of your body is a valuable asset when running a 5K. It helps prevent injury and prevents boredom. You don’t want to do the same workout every day. It’s fun to change it up throughout the week. 

Stretch

Since you’re putting your body through all of that rigorous exercise--it’s important to take care of it. Drinking plenty of water and stretching needs to be a consistent part of your 5K training routine. Workouts like Piyo or Yoga can help you keep your body flexible. Making sure your muscles are properly taken care of can help prevent injury on your running days. 

Active Rest

You should take an active rest once a week when training for a 5K. Take this day to relax and give your body some TLC. After all, you’re consistently training your body for a race. It’s important to give it time to recuperate. Book a massage or spend some time meditating. These “active rest” days aren’t for stuffing your face and sitting on your couch. You still need to take care of your body so you can perform properly when you start running again.

With consistency and a little determination, you’ll be running a 5K in no time. Using split workouts will help you get faster, and taking care of yourself with yoga will prevent injury. There are a lot of ways to train for a 5K. You need to find what’s best for you and your body. Just believe in yourself and listen to your body!

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