Have you ever wanted to remove “run a race” from your bucket list, but often find yourself getting frustrated a few weeks into training? Don’t worry — it’s happened to us all, and the good news is this disappointment is completely reversible. When preparing for a 5k or 10k, you have to think slow and steady and not over-exert out of the gate. Think back to the notorious childhood fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” and you’ll be reminded that it takes more than just any kind of training and lightning-quick speed to come out on top.
If you’re a beginning runner and want to take a stab at your first race, I highly suggest following my 15-week and 13-week training schedule below. I’ve also provided a few more talking points that will have you getting your runs off on the right foot, rearing and ready to go by New Year’s!
Tips for a successful training
- Don’t wait to take walk breaks. By alternating walking and running from the beginning, you speed recovery without losing any of the endurance effect of the long one. Start with jogging one to two minutes and walking two to three minutes. As your training level increases you can adjust your run/walk ratio to running five minutes and walking one minute on your long runs.
- Be sure to do the running portion slow enough at the beginning of every run (especially the long run) so that you’ll feel tired but strong at the end. The conservatism will allow you to recover faster.
- Every other day you can cross-train instead of walking. Cross-country ski machines, water running, cycling and any other mode that you find fun and interesting (but non-pounding) will improve overall fitness.
- Stay conversational on all of your exercise sessions. This means that you should be exerting yourself at a low enough level that you could talk. It’s OK to take deep breaths between sentences, but you don’t want to “huff and puff” between every word.
- As the runs get longer, be sure to keep your blood sugar boosted by eating an energy bar, or equivalent, about an hour before exercise. Drink water continuously before and during exercise and with all food.