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7 Training Tips for Running Your First 5K

How to Be Prepared to Run a 5K


Updated June 12, 2014

Ready to start training to run a 5K? Here are some 5K training tips to help you get prepared to run a 5K with confidence.

1. Wear the right running shoes.

Close up of a running shoes
Geber86/E+/Getty Images

Your running shoes are your most important piece of running gear. Go to a running specialty store to get fitted for the right running shoes for your foot type and running style. Also, make sure you don't run in worn-out running shoes – they should be replaced every 300-400 miles to keep you comfortable and prevent injuries.

2. Use a training program.

Treadmill running
Photo by Andersen Ross

Following a 5K training schedule will not only keep you motivated, but it will also help prevent you from getting injured by doing too much too soon. Try one of these schedules:

3. Be consistent.

Hill Running
Photo by David Madison

One of the biggest keys to success for new runners (as well as veterans) is to stick with it. There will be days when you don't feel like running and you'll have an excuse for getting out of your workout. Fight the temptation to skip it, remember your goal of running the race, and get yourself out there running. You'll feel better once you're out there. You may not feel a runner's high at the end of every single run, but the next one can't be too far off. And if you do miss a day, don't beat yourself up. Just get back to your schedule as soon as you can and try to make running a priority.

4. Cross-train.

Forward Lunge Exercise
Photo by Stockbyte

Lots of beginners assume that to become better runners they need to run more. Yes, running more can improve your endurance and speed, but doing too much can lead to injury and overall burnout. You can also build fitness and reduce injuries with cross training, which is any activity that supplements your running. Strength-training, especially your core and lower body, is extremely beneficial to runners. Other excellent cross-training activities for runners include cycling, swimming, water jogging, yoga, and Pilates.

5. Have a back-up plan for bad weather or unsafe conditions.

Snow running
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Don't let darkness or snow be an excuse for you to not run. It is possible to run in bad weather, but if you just can't do it, have a plan for an indoor workout. If you don't have access to a treadmill or a health club, make sure you have a home-based workout plan with some cardio such as jumping rope and stair-climbing, as well as some strengthening exercises. Even if you just work out for 20 minutes, you'll feel better that you didn't skip a day.

6. Pay attention to your form.

Treadmill Runner
Photo by Stuart Hannagan/Getty Images
To help you run more efficiently and comfortably, focus on staying upright, not slouching, with your head up and level. Keep your shoulders down, with your arms relaxed and at a 90 degree angle. Try to take short, quick steps, to allow you to conserve energy and minimize impact on your legs and joints.
Video: Proper Running Form
Tips for Proper Running Form

7. Get a buddy to run with you.

Two women running
Photo by Chase Jarvis
Training and racing is more fun if you do it with a friend or family member. You can also help keep each other on track and motivated. If you can't convince a human to run with you, your dog also makes a great running partner!
Also see: Tips for Running With Your Significant Other

Race Day Tips for your First 5K
Road Race Etiquette Tips
How Long Will It Take Me to Run a 5K?
8 Commonly-Asked Questions About 5K Racing

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