From nationwide 5Ks like the Color Run, to local favorites like the Trolley Run, Kansas City has lots of fun opportunities for 5Ks throughout the year. While it’s perfectly acceptable to walk in a 5K, many people use these events to challenge themselves to get in shape by preparing to run or jog the entire course. Whether or not you’re a runner, training for a 5K is totally doable if you have a plan in place. Here are some tips for creating a training plan for your next 5K.
Build up slowly.
Wherever you’re at fitness-wise—start there. If you’ve been mostly sedentary lately, don’t expect to jump up off the couch and start running for miles. There are plenty of couch-to-5K running plans out there for you to try, but the gist of all of them is the same: a combination of walking and running 3–4 days per week, building up to a solid 30-minute run (which is essentially a 5K).
Give yourself time to train.
If you’re new to endurance training, expecting to go from the couch to running a 5K in three weeks is unrealistic and will only set you up for disappointment. Instead, give yourself a buffer of around 9–12 weeks before your big 5K run. This gives you time to slowly increase your running time on a weekly basis so that you hardly notice a change until you find yourself running for 30 minutes without stopping.
As with any workout plan, life is going to get in the way. If you don’t make your training a priority, it will be very easy to skip running days, and you won’t build the stamina needed to stick to the plan. And you’ll get frustrated. Set yourself up for success by planning your runs on days and times when you’re most likely to be able to accomplish them. If you work in an area that’s not runner-friendly, don’t plan to do your training during lunch. Make a reasonable plan for your schedule and make it a priority to stick to it. Consistency will get you results.
The only person you should be comparing yourself to is last week’s version of you. Trying to keep up with someone else’s fitness level and style could cause you to over-exert or injure yourself, which would be a big setback to your goals. Instead, train comfortably and at your own pace. Don’t run so hard you can’t carry a conversation. Give yourself time to recover between runs.
There are plenty of free couch-to-5K plans available online, so choose one that aligns with your fitness level and timeframe. We recommend this 12-week program for adult beginning runners from KC Express.