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Running Your First 5K 
 
by Amy Hunter May 23, 2005

The 5k is the most popular road racing distance in America. These races include grandmothers, moms pushing strollers and elite college runners. This article will give a training plan as well as some helpful hints for running your first 5k.

The 5k is the most popular race distance in America today. No matter where you live, you are probably within easy driving distance to a 5k road race on any given weekend. The popularity of the 5K is two fold. At 3.1 miles, the 5k is a distance that most anyone can train for and complete. Most 5K's are fund-raisers as well, which adds to their appeal. You should, however, be careful. Once you have run one, you may find yourself addicted. Given that most races give out t-shirts in their race packets, you may never need to go shopping again once the racing bug has bit.

To begin training for a 5k there are a few things to do. Check the newspaper or the internet to find your goal race. If you have done no running previously, give yourself at least 6 weeks, if you are already running some, you can probably get by with a month. The goal for your first 5k is to complete it and have fun, not necessarily win, and definitely not make yourself miserable. Leave yourself enough time to do adequate training, and you will have a great time. Once you have chosen your race, it is time to get running.

Your goal for a successful 5k is to build up to running for 30 minutes at a time prior to the race. At 3.1 miles you may take longer than that to complete the race, but if you are comfortably running thirty minutes prior to race day, the energy and excitement of the day will be enough to carry you on your big day. If you are already running, just add 5 minutes to your time every 3 to 4 runs. For example, if you have been running 20 minutes 3 times a week, go to 25 minutes this week, and 30 the week after. Once you get to 30 minutes, you can increase your fitness level by varying your running route, adding hills, or going to the local track to run intervals. Keep it simple, if you have to much to think about, you will inevitably end up dropping the ball and back sliding on your training.

If you have been sedentary up until now, your approach to the 5k will be a little different. The first week, aim to exercise for 10 minutes, jogging as long as you can, walking when you need to. Take your time, if you push yourself to soon, you will be sore and uncomfortable, and may lose motivation.

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