If you’ve avoided running in the past because it doesn’t seem enjoyable, signing up for a fun run might be just the inspiration you need to get off the couch. As the name implies, “fun runs” are as much about having a great time as they are about running.

Proceeds usually go to a local charity, making the events a good choice if you want to get a little exercise while supporting an important cause. In some of these friendly, noncompetitive races, participants navigate through obstacles or eat donuts. One popular version even ends with runners covered in brightly colored, washable paint.

Although the theme of these events is fun, you should still train for them, particularly if you haven’t run before or aren’t very active. Creating a fitness planning schedule for your fun run will help you finish strong and have fun doing it.

Fun Run or 5K: How Long is a 5K, Anyway?

Both fun runs and 5Ks are short races that appeal to both new and experienced runners. 5Ks are 3.1 miles long, while fun runs can be the same length or slightly shorter. At some events, you can opt to run in either the 5K or the fun run.

Keep Your Feet Happy During a Fun Run

Before you can start training for your fun run, you’ll need to buy a pair of running shoes. Running shoes are specially designed to be lightweight yet provide the support and shock absorption your feet need while you run. Although you might be tempted to wear shoes you already have and skip the trip to the shoe store, a pair of well-fitting running shoes will help you avoid training injuries.

Slow and Steady

Running, like any other sport, takes practice. Plan to train for eight weeks before you participate in your first run. A gradual approach to training is essential. When you train, you’ll alternate running short periods with walking to build your stamina and endurance. Try this sample schedule when you’re ready to start training:

  • Monday, Wednesday and Friday: Run one minute, then walk for 90 seconds. Repeat eight times.
  • Tuesday and Saturday: Work on strength-training exercises.
  • Wednesday and Sunday:

Modify the schedule on your running days as follows for the remaining weeks:

  • Second week: Run for two minutes, then walk for one minute. Repeat seven times.
  • Third week: Run for four minutes and walk for one minute. Repeat six times.
  • Fourth week: Run for six minutes and walk for two minutes. Repeat four times.
  • Fifth week: Run for nine minutes and walk for two minutes. Repeat three times.
  • Sixth week: Run for 12 minutes and walk for one minute. Repeat three times.
  • Seventh week: Run for 15 minutes and walk for one minute. Repeat two times.
  • Eighth week: Run for 30 minutes.

Strength Training Is Important

Strength training is an excellent addition to any fitness routine and is particularly important for runners. Building muscle and bone strength not only helps improve your endurance level and reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis, but also strengthens your leg muscles. When your legs are strong, it’s much easier to run longer distances.

Running Offers Lifelong Benefits

Running is a great way to stay healthy and live longer. The aerobic activity offers a variety of benefits, including:

Improved immune system function: When your immune system is strong, it’s easier to fight off colds and other viruses.

Lower risk of serious diseases: Regular aerobic exercise decreases your risk of developing high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Better heart health: Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart, enabling it to work more efficiently.

Improved moods: Running can decrease anxiety, stress and depression.

Better health as you age: Researchers at Stanford University report that continuing to run as you grow older decreases the risk of early death and slows the effects of aging, allowing you to enjoy a more active life in your golden years.

Are you ready to get off the couch and start training for a fun run? If you’re unsure about how to start, the interdisciplinary team at LifeStyle Medical Centers will work with you to develop a comprehensive fitness and nutrition plan that will help you reach your goal. With the help of our fitness planning experts, you’ll be ready for your first fun run in no time.