If you want to get off the couch, improve your cardiovascular health, lose some weight, and get outside while doing so – there’s not much in the way of exercise that beats a nice run.  Setting goals, however, can make running more interesting and rewarding.  A particularly fun goal for getting in shape is a 5k race (3.1 miles).  The distance isn’t too intimidating to work towards, but it’s a long enough distance to be proud of.  It’s also a great mid-length distance that can promote a good balance of strength and endurance.  Yet the primary key to running a successful 5k race is building a solid cardiovascular base.  In order to do this, you’ve got to get out and run consistently for a while.

If you’re completely new to running you’ll want to start out slowly.  The 5k for Fitness Plan was designed to help prepare new runners for a 5k.  The first two weeks consist primarily of walking, which helps build strength and a cardiovascular base.  If you’re already doing some light jogging, you can skip the first two weeks of walking and begin on week three of the 5k for Fitness Plan.  You should be ready to run a 5k race by the end of week ten, but the additional weeks will only further improve your 5k time. 

Click here for the 5K for Fitness Plan in PDF.  It’s designed to gradually build your aerobic and strength base through varied training, overload, and consistency.

For a 5K race near you visit Active.com

Running basics:

  • I recommend running/walking barefoot to improve your running form and efficiency.  However, if you plan on running barefoot, you’ll want to add several weeks of additional walking and light running to the beginning of the 5k for Fitness Plan.  It is important to ease into barefoot running.  
  • Stretch before if desired but especially after every run.  Stretching will help your muscles recuperate more quickly and improve flexibility.
  • Stay loose while running to avoid straining, bad form, and unnecessary expenditure of energy.
  • Keep your arms to your side and elbows bent.  Cup your hands instead of holding them in a fist.
  • Keep your body perpendicular to the ground, eyes looking forward.
  • Hips should be slightly out in front of you to move your center of gravity forward. 
  • Stay hydrated, well fueled, and get plenty of rest.
  • It also helps to have a nice stopwatch that you can use to keep track of your times.

Most importantly, keep running fun!  Only run for as long as you enjoy it.  If you follow this approach, running will be something you enjoy and improve at overtime, not something you do for a short time and give up on.  Have fun!

Originally posted 2011-09-09 17:37:00.


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