By Brandon Sadler, Certified Personal Trainer
If you’re new to running, 5K can feel intimidating. Here are some tips to get started on the right foot, avoid injury, and learn to love this energizing form of exercise.
- Find a buddy or a community. It can be hard to get off the couch. Committing to regular runs with a friend or a training group can help get you out the door and into shape.
- Buy a good pair of running shoes. It’s important your runners work for your foot type: wide, narrow, high arch, etc. Consider getting fit at a specialty store like the Running Room. You may also want to get some moisture-wicking socks.
- Research a good warm up. You’ll avoid injury if you get your blood pumping and stretch your muscles before you run. Start with dynamic stretches like butt kicks and walking lunges. Then do a brisk five-minute walk before breaking into a run, to make the actual running less of a shock on your body.
- Explore a run/walk plan. For many beginners, a combination of running and walking works best during early weeks of training. To start, try three minutes of walking. The following week, try one minute of running, then two minutes of walking and one minute of running. Then switch to equal parts running and walking, and so on.
- Focus on form. Start with short strides, look straight ahead, and try to bend your knee slightly on impact. All runners experience muscle fatigue after a workout, but you shouldn’t feel full out pain.
- Listen to music. Listening to music during a run can help pass the time and draw your focus to something other than counting your steps. Make sure to make a playlist with high energy music that makes you feel good.
- Start by counting the minutes, not the kilometres. At the start of your training, focus on the time spent running, not the distance or speed. Try 30 minutes of exercise, for example. If you go too far too quickly, you could hurt yourself.
- Commit to a certain number of runs per week. Start with one or two and see how you feel, then gradually add from there. Your body will need time to recover between runs. Beginners shouldn’t run on back-to-back days.
- Stretch and re-hydrate after your run. Take time to protect your muscles by stretching each leg for 20 to 30 seconds, at least two or three times, after your run. Also make sure you drink plenty of water.
- Register for a 5K. One of the best ways to stay on track is to sign up for a running event. That date (and the registration fee!) will motivate you to keep going until you reach the finish line.
Looking for the perfect first 5K?
The 2019 Rotary Fun Run, taking place at the Barrie Southshore Community Centre on May 29, is a great event for beginners. You can explore 5K and 10K running options, or just register to walk. You get a free T-shirt for participating. The registration fee is a modest $40 and all funds benefit our community, including organizations like Georgian. The run is organized by the Rotary Club of Barrie.
Brandon Sadler is a Certified Personal Trainer with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. He works at the fitness centre at Georgian College and oversees training for several varsity teams. He is also the head coach of Men’s Rugby at the University of Toronto and a former triathlete.