Fall in love with fitness again by conquering something new!

At the gentle cajoling of your girlfriends, you registered for a 5K run. Problem is, aside from “running late,” the word isn’t part of your vocabulary.

But there’s good news. For the next two months, and just a few days a week, you can turn yourself into a runner. And if we’ve learned anything from runners that came before you, your first 5K will certainly not be your last.

Learn to Run

Priority one: make sure you have time in the next seven weeks to dedicate to training. A schedule of alternating walking and running will have you starting out slowly but surely. Try something like this, for example: run for three minutes, walk for one minute. But really, the pace should be what you’re comfortable with. If you’re more comfortable with the ratio reversed, no problem. What’s important is not burning out in the first few days. Up this pace incrementally for seven weeks, and by race day, you will be running the whole three miles (though there’s no harm in walking a 5K)!

Keep in mind, though, you shouldn’t be training seven days a week – far from it, in fact. Really, just three of those days for less than an hour should be focused on running. Two days a week should be scheduled for weight training to keep your body strong and avoiding injury, with the remaining two days dedicated to rest and recovery. And don’t forget the “talk test.” If you can’t carry on a conversation while running, you need to slow it down.

What to Wear

As important as your training regime, equal care must be given to your gear. This is not the time to dust the cobwebs off your old sneakers you’ve had since eighth grade gym class. Use the expertise of the personnel at your neighborhood running specialty store. The pros there are trained to help customize to your specific needs.

And for our lady runners, you’ll also need a good sports bra (to keep the girls supported), and wicking clothing can be an option to avoid chaffing. Dress in layers as to not over- or under-dress.

Fuel and Recovery

Before your run, fuel up one to two hours before with a light breakfast. Think unprocessed carbs between 200 and 300 calories. Toast with PB and J or oatmeal will do nicely. Post-race chocolate milk is great tool for replenishment and recovery. A few hours later have a substantial meal. Resist the urge to celebrate with a party-size pizza. Instead, go for lean protein and complex carbs. This is a better reward for your body.

Find the Race for You

Perhaps you’re thinking of signing up for a race, but unsure what to try and maybe a little intimidated? Then a “fun run” could be just what you’re looking for. Things like The Color Run, Foam Glow, or City Run are perfect for beginners. Go solo or with a group and you’re guaranteed a great time. Or if you’re ready to unleash your aggressive streak, a Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder could be just what you need. Also, there is one more huge benefit to races-the good deed factor. There are so many organizations that coordinate runs with proceeds going to charity. Rally friends and family together for donations big and small. Isn’t it better to give than receive?

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