I have mentioned it a few times before, but running for me is a release and a time when I am free from the world to be with myself, in the moment. Over the span of my running career I have completed countless races from 5k to half-marathons, with the looming Marathon a soon to be achieved goal of mine. However, I was not always a runner and there was a time in my life when the thought of running 5k seemed impossible to me. I even specifically remember telling a friend of mind that no way in H E Double Hockey Sticks would I ever run a couple km’s never mind 5k. But here I am, a crazy insane lover of running and I have never looked back.
Tips For Training & Running Your First 5k
- Just Sign Up. I find the biggest motivator is to just dive-in head first and sign up for a race. This way you have a goal to work towards, as well as something to hold yourself accountable. It is also much more rewarding to cross the finish line with your own personal cheerleading group hooting and hollering at you from the stands.
- The Bling Matters. While I now run some races without any medals, I think it is extremely important to cross the finish line and have a hunky piece of jewelry handed to you as a memento of all the hard, sweaty work that went into it. Be self indulgent at least once! (I still am years later)
- Start Slow. Do not expect to stand up off the couch and instantly run 5k. Yes there are people out there who can do this (my best friend included), but for most (myself in this group) it is just not a reality. Not even after running long races then taking a two to three month “rest”. Trust me I have tried. Instead ease into it and take your time.
- Bad Days are OK! Even after years of running I still have bad training sessions. My legs feel like cement, my heart is about ready to burst out of my chest and I can’t catch my breath to save my life. This is normal, I even like to believe that the Elites have days like this the same as us mere mortals. The more important thing to remember is that you got out there and you did it!
- Just Do It. Speaking of doing it, just go and get the run in. There will be a million reasons not to run and often times only one to run, but chances are you will feel way better post run, you will not guilt yourself later for not doing it and you will gain superiority over those who skipped the last day/week/month/year. I know it is easier said than done and that cozy blanket is much more inviting than the freezing cold snow (if you’re from Canada at least), but the times I have run I’ve felt far better than those times I haven’t.
- Treat Yo’ Self. In the words of Tom Haverford, it is important to splurge even just a little bit along the training road. Whether that be fancy new sneaks, the overly indulgent $130 running leggings or a sick new watch, it will be a nice treat and a reward to the hard work you are putting in.
- Look to the Pros. Elites do this for a living and they always have great insight into the sport. Search up quotes, motivational speeches or watch races online and on TV. I have even been known to binge watch a bunch of running movies on my off days. There is nothing like watching someone smash their goals to give you the push you need.
- Buddy Up. The running community may be one of the best clubs to be apart of in the whole entire world. Its also super exclusive so being a member makes you even more cool, but how do you get in: lace up your runners and go for a run. Simple, but not often done. This community is so supportive and understands the joy and struggle felt through self punishment (i.e running). It can also help to have someone by your side cheering you on as a voice of encouragement who is going through the emotions and pain with you (I have both needed and been needed as this voice).
- Smile. You may look absolutely crazy as you are lugging your body up a massively steep hill with a grin on your face, but trust me the smile works. I read it a long time ago and it has been my secret to combating every negative thought I have when things get tough on a run (yes even thinking back to that time I asked a guy out then immediately told him not to say anything).
- Jitters are Normal. My first race ever I nearly lost my breakfast from nerves before it and was convinced I was going to die and my best friend would have to drag my body to the finish line even though I had trained and was ready. I am going to say these irrational thoughts are normal on race day (partially for my own sanity) and jitters are 100% to be expected. I still get them to this day and every runner I have talked to does. What I find works best is to zone out and think of something happy. You will normally find me listening to some crazy motivational speaker and shaking like a wild turkey but hey it works for me.
You’ll Be Stronger. I don’t believe running ever gets easier because we are always pushing to be better. It is a huge feat that requires hours of training and often times its just you and the road. You can experience massive blisters, sore muscles, maybe a lost toenail (or two). There is bound to be tears and probably some blood along the way. People will probably think you are crazy and I wont lie there may be the odd hater or doubter. BUT you will be STRONGER! You will be stronger physically, pushing yourself harder and further and will love the pain. You will achieve things you never thought possible and run distances most people never do. You will be stronger mentally, being capable of handling self doubt and negativity when things get hard. You will be able to tackle so much more than so many and have the strength to achieve things even outside of running. Always remember that your sport is every single other sports punishment, now lace up and hit the pavement!