Have you ever considered running a 5K race? It is 3.1 miles in length and often ideal for beginners. Even if you don’t consider yourself a runner, almost anyone can complete a 5K. The beauty is, you can complete the race at your own pace! The key is to prepare for the event ahead of time by committing to healthy exercise habits such as a walking or running routine. Start slow and increase your exercise over several weeks. 5K’s are enjoyable, achievable, and satisfying to accomplish.
Benefits of training for and running a 5K
1. It reduces stress.
Exercise like walking and running exerts energy and relieves stress. Spending a portion of your day walking or running gives your mind an outlet to escape from everyday stressors.
2. It improves mental health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular physical activity can help you keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp. It can also help you sleep better and reduce your risk of depression.
3. It boosts confidence.
Running a 5k can help boost your confidence and self-esteem. By setting a goal and achieving it, you are left with a sense of empowerment. This often leaves you more excited about doing healthy exercise in the future.
4. It helps with socializing.
Physical events give you the chance to spend quality time with others. Activities such as 5k races are great to do with friends or family. Invite them to sign up for the race with you and schedule your weekly exercise routine with them. This is an excellent way to keep each other accountable and motivated.
5. It controls your weight.
As long as you stay active, you burn more calories and boost your metabolism. Regular physical activity helps you lose weight and keep it off.
6. It reduces your risk of disease.
- Regular aerobic activity (150 minutes per week) reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and some cancers. It also builds muscle and promotes healthy bones.
- Regular physical activity such as running or walking helps slow the loss of bone density as you age. It also helps maintain and build muscle which is important for boosting your metabolism.
Tips for reaching the finish line
Sign up for a race.
This may sound extremely basic but signing up for a race helps you get moving. Signing up becomes motivation to begin a regular exercise routine in preparation for the event. Be sure to pick a race that is a couple months away so you have plenty of time to prepare.
Find and commit to an exercise program.
Remember to start out slow with your new healthy exercise habits. It is always a good idea to consult your primary care physician before starting an exercise program such as:
- Running program: Couch-to-5K is a free app that is a perfect for those planning to run the entire race. This is an 8-week program designed for beginners starting from sedentary. It includes 3 sessions per week alternating between running and walking. The sessions are approximately 30 minutes in length including a warm up and a cool down period.
- Walking Program: If you plan to walk the race, below is a sample walking program from Harvard University. A 5K race is approximately 3 miles. If you walk briskly the entire race, it should take you about 60 minutes to finish. The walking plan below will prepare you for the race in 12 weeks.
|A Walking Program to Try|
|Sessions per week||Warm-up||Walking time||Cool-down||Total minutes|
|Week 1||2||5 min. slow walking||5 min. brisk walking||5 min. slow walking||15 min.|
|Week 2||3||5 min. slow walking||5 min. brisk walking||5 min. slow walking||15 min.|
|Week 3||4||5 min. slow walking||10 min. brisk walking||5 min. slow walking||20 min.|
|Week 4||5||5 min. slow walking||10 min. brisk walking||5 min. slow walking||20 min.|
|Week 5||6||5 min. slow walking||10 min. brisk walking||5 min. slow walking||20 min.|
|Weeks 6–7||6||5 min. slow walking||15 min. brisk walking||5 min. slow walking||25 min.|
|Week 8||6||5 min. slow walking||20 min. brisk walking||5 min. slow walking||30 min.|
|Week 9||6||5 min. slow walking||25 min. brisk walking||5 min. slow walking||35 min.|
|Week 10||6||5 min. slow walking||30 min. brisk walking||5 min. slow walking||40 min.|
|Week 11||6||5 min. slow walking||40 min. brisk walking||5 min. slow walking||50 min.|
|Week 12||7||5 min. slow walking||50 min. brisk walking||5 min. slow walking||60 in.|