Preparing For Your First 5K!

Happy Thursday! It’s almost Friday and the weekend is almost upon us!  I have a nice 3 mile tempo run with a warm up and cool down tonight and then some study time is in order.  I can’t believe how close the marathon is and that I’ll be taking my test in a few short weeks! Crazy how time flies!

Speaking of time flying by, spring has arrived and with that comes 5K races.   It seems like in the spring months there are multiple 5Ks every Saturday and Sunday and everyone is signing up for them!  I’ve heard lots of people talking about how they are tackling their very first 5K this spring.  New runners make me so happy and I love to hear people are tackling the 5K and starting to race.  A few of my friends are doing their first race and were wondering what my tips were for race day.  They are a pretty fit and active group just not “runners”.  A plan like the couch to 5K would not be challenging enough for them.  If we had to give them a category I’d say they are intermediate runners.  So here’s my tips to be successful!

Follow a Plan of Sorts. 

I’d say many intermediate runners are people who regularly workout but aren’t the type to run religiously 4 or 5 days a week.  My advice to them is to take a look at some intermediate running plans on sites like Runner’s World and Cool Running.  You don’t have to give up your normal workout routine you love but do add some miles into your week.

  • If your someone who regularly does the elliptical try replacing that time with some time on the treadmill or out on the road.  Aim to run 2 or 3 miles instead of your normal 30 to 40 minutes on the elliptical.
  • For those who like to weight lift, add a mile or two to your cool-down or warm-up.
  • Love Zumba and classes?  Get in two miles before class and then another mile after.  You’ll warm your body up for your class and get some miles in to be ready for your race!

Ideally you should be running about 4 days a week.  One of those days should be a long run.  You might start at 2 miles and build up to 9 miles over the course of a few weeks to help build your endurance.  Also add in a day of speed work to help give you that final kick over the finish line.  Need some ideas for speed work?

  • Try 4 x800m with 400m rest.  Include a mile warm up and a mile cool-down.  Aim to run your race pace for these workouts.
  • Don’t like the track?  Try doing 45 second to 1 minutes bursts throughout a 2 to 3 mile run.   Think 1 minute on, 1 minute off.  It will keep your heart rate elevated and improve your speed.
  • Try a tempo workout!  You would do a mile warm up and then run 2 or 3 miles at a hard but comfortable pace, then do a 1 mile cool down.

Runner’s World Intermediate 5K Plan

Preparing for the Race. 

  • The day before your race be sure to eat well and balanced.  It’s not the day to skip lunch and eat fries at the bar after work with your co-workers.  Your best bet is to eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner and include a snack or two.  Make sure you get some carbohydrates and protein into your diet.  The goal is to fill your muscles with glycogen so you’ll have enough fuel to push through your race!
  • Hydrate.  Be sure to drink plenty of water the day before your race!  Since your likely racing on a Saturday or Sunday the night before is not the time to go out with your friends and have one too many to drink.  One beer won’t kill you but don’t push it much more than that.
  • Get a good night’s rest.  Make sure you wake up feeling rested and energetic.  Get to bed early and catch some extra z’s!
  • Layout your race clothes the night before.  Look at the weather and wear something you’ll be comfortable in.  If you lay it out the night before you’ll be sure to have everything you need!
  • Pack a bag with dry clothes and whatever else you may need the night before.  You don’t want to rush in the morning!

Race Day!

  • Give yourself plenty of time to get up, get dressed and be ready for your race!
  • Eat a light breakfast.  A bowl of plain oatmeal with some applesauce is perfect or a couple of pieces of toast with a banana.  You don’t want to over eat but rather just be satisfied.
  • Get there early.  You don’t want to rush to find parking, take an extra layers off or get your bib number.
  • Warm up a little bit.  Do a few laps or sprints in an open area near the start.  You want to get the blood flowing and warm your muscles up.
  • Find a place in the back of the pack.  I recommend this because you don’t want to go out too fast.  Staying in the back of the pack will force you to do this.
  • Start slowly and build your speed over the race.  Your last mile should be the fastest!

Start Slow and Build Speed!

Post Race. 

  • Catch your breath and change into warm dry clothes.
  • Cheer on your fellow runners and have a fun time at the after party! Be sure to celebrate your first race!

As always you can leave any questions or additional tips I may have missed in the comment section!  Good luck to all of the new runners out there who are tackling their very first 5K this spring!  Runners are an amazing group of people!

Enjoy Your Big Finish!

What are your tips to running your first 5k?  What do you do to train for the race?  What are your pre-race rituals?  What makes you successful in a 5k?  What’s your favorite way to celebrate?


Tips to Accomplish Your Spring Running Goals!

Happy Spring!!! This Tuesday brings the first day of spring and really I couldn’t be happier.  We had a mild winter which made marathon training a dream but that doesn’t mean I love spring any less this year.  I love ballet flats, cute dresses, trench coats, sunny days and cool nights, the first meals of the season on the grill, the spring flowers…all of it really!  And check out this week’s forecast for Boston…

Boston Forecast Week of 3/19

Can we say awesome?!  With the onset of spring and the longer, warmer days I have certainly taken note of all the runners out.  Just a few weeks ago I was the only one on the running path in the cold and dark but now it’s packed with people.  Maybe your goal is to just run 3 days a week or to PR your next 5K or to run the Boston Marathon.  Here are some tips to help you accomplish your spring running goals…

Set Realistic Goals.

I love goals! I set them monthly so I stay focused on the things that matter most to me.  If you are new to running set a goal to get out and run twice a week.  Set another goal to run your first 5K in June or July.  If you’re a seasoned runner your goal maybe be to do one track workout or a tempo workout per week.  You may aim to run your first marathon or half-marathon in the early fall so set goals to build your mileage until then.

Get a Plan.

 There are tons of plans out on the web.  Runner’s World has the Smart Coach system where you are able to set goals, and it maps it out for you.  If you get sick or miss a few days you can mark those days as missed and the plan will automatically adjust for you!  For the new runner look for a couch to 5K plan.  Lots of runners have had great success with that.  For the more advanced runner there are specific plans on Runner’s World to help you meet your time goal.  Hal Higdon has plans for free on his website, but I tend to think they have too many miles each week.  With your plan look at the structure so that even when your race is over you can keep running and improve.   Each week you should try to have a longer run on Saturday or Sunday, a shorter recovery run early in the week and a speed or tempo workout on Wednesday or Thursday.  Be sure to take rest days! They are vital for your success!

Track Your Progress.

 I use the Garmin 405 to track my runs and upload the data to Daily Mile and Garmin Connect.  I manually add in my yoga classes, gym workouts and strength workouts.  I’m able to run reports to see how my average mile pace is increasing from month to month or track my total miles.  I love this watch! The reports encourage me to keep working hard as I see improvement.


Set Run Dates!

Run dates with a friend are great for two reasons.  They keep you accountable and they make it FUN! I met one of my friends at the gym, we like to meet up after our workout to go get a healthy meal and catch up.  This way we get to the gym, sweat and eat a healthy meal.  Another one of my favorites is to meet a friend for a run.  You get outside, you get your run in, you get to catch up and you save calories by skipping the meal or drink at a restaurant which is also great for your budget! Running with a partner can challenge you as well, you may run harder or longer than you normally would which in turn can help you accomplish all sorts of running goals!


 Find a Running Group!

Michael and I regularly go to a running group on Monday nights.  It allows us to kick our week off right, gives us something to look forward to on Monday and we have made some friends that we look forward to seeing each week.  Now is a great time to join a group since there will be many new runners! And since we often run with people who are faster than us it really helps build our speed! Most of all, it’s fun!


 Run for a Cause!

You all know I’m running the Boston Marathon in April with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  While you raise money for a great cause, you are given the opportunity to meet some incredible runners and you have constant motivation to keep running.  With Team in Training we are given a training plan and every Saturday morning we meet for a distance run.  There are volunteers who set up aid stations and encourage you along the way.  On Tuesdays we meet and do a track workout at the local high school.   You are never running alone and there is lots of motivation!  And plenty of accountability!

Run Holiday and Themed Races and Fun Runs!

While you were out for St. Patrick’s Day you probably saw some road races where everyone was dressed in green.  In July there are 4th of July Runs where people wear red, white and blue running shorts! For Halloween you see people all dressed up for the race.  Sign up for a few of these with some friends, and have fun planning your outfits out and since you know you’ll be racing you’ll be sure to hit the pavement before race day!

Reward Yourself!

As a runner I’m often intrigued by the latest and greatest running gear.  The new running shoes, the fancy new tights, the newest Garmin watch, a pretty new shirt at Lululemon are just a few items I lust after.  I replace my shoes every 350 miles, so if I really want a new pair I tend to hit the pavement more so I hit the 350-mile mark sooner!  I often reward myself with a new race outfit for my upcoming marathon or race as well.  However you want to reward yourself, you should! It will keep you motivated and it is an investment in yourself and your health!

These are just a few ways to get you going and running this spring! I honestly love seeing all the runners come out in the spring and it makes me happy to know that I’m part of such a great community of runners!

What is your advice for all the runner’s out this spring? How do you accomplish your spring running goals? Are you just starting to run again after a winter off?  Are you excited for spring?!