Whether you want to run your first 5k and build your general fitness or you're getting back to running after a break, there are a number of things that you can do to give yourself the best chance of success and make running that victory lap as enjoyable as possible! From improving your training to nailing your recovery, if you can master the following items, you'll be cruising those five kilometers!
Walking and running
A walk-run is a series of running intervals with planning walking breaks. Our bodies need time to adapt to running and absorb the impact, and by adding a walking interval, we can gradually build our running volume over time at a safer rate.
A deliberate walking interval reduces the amount of impact we are putting through our musculoskeletal system, which lowers our chance of injury. Over time we will reduce the amount of time spent walking, and increase the amount of time running, until eventually the walking intervals are non-existent.
Incorporate cross-training within your running plans will not only help you to optimise your training, but can also reduce your injury risk. For runners, cross-training options can include cycling, elliptical, rowing or swimming, but we would advise you do what you enjoy the most. It will add variety to your routine when you are running fit and healthy, but it will also make it a lot easier to adapt if you are injured. Set yourself goals and challenges whilst you can’t run – you will enjoy it a lot more!
To help your body adapt to the training and also recover properly to avoid injuries, there are some essentials that you should be doing on a recovery side of things too. Firstly, sleep; aim for a consistent 8 hours of sleep every night. Secondly, whether it's Pilates, Yoga or simply stretching, you should look do to at least some mobility work each week.
Other ways to optimise your recovery include sports massages or even using at-home massage tools such as massage guns or a foam roller. Listen to your body throughout your training and be prepared to take an extra day of rest or move the sessions around within a week if you find that you need a little extra recovery.
To get your body up to running a 5k, you'll need to complete your training sessions but also make sure you're fuelling your recovery and making health-conscious nutrition choices too! To help optimise your recovery, look to keep your protein high, take on plenty of carbs before your longer sessions and if you're looking to really push the pace or distance, don't be afraid to experiment with caffeine too.
Your shoes are going to be a big part of your training and investing in a good pair will help protect your body from the impact with the ground. We recommend going to a shoe shop that specialises in running shoes and has a treadmill in-store so that you can test a few different pairs.
Perhaps one of the hardest parts of training is being consistent and holding yourself accountable. Try to start off by developing a routine around your running and get used to getting out that door three, four or more times per week. You can even look to put your running sessions in your calendar/diary to help integrate them into your day-to-day. We'd also suggest tracking your progress as you go and using this as a tool to look back on how far you've come and motivate yourself to lace up for those harder sessions.
Look to make your training social, from telling your close friends your goals, to joining a community of runners either online or in your local area, to organising to run with people that you know. Additionally, what better way to hold yourself accountable than signing up to a 5k event, knowing you have a deadline when you can put all of your hard work into practice?
Follow a plan!
Finally, maybe the best thing you can do to level up your running is follow a plan! A good plan will take care of everything that we've mentioned in this article, from setting out all of the sessions for you, automatically adjusting your mileage, incorporating deloads to balancing the right types of running for your ability. Have a plan will also help hugely with accountability and mean that you can focus purely on your running game!
Whether you have signed up for an upcoming race or are just hoping to build a good base level of fitness one of our plans may be for you. To check out our personalised training plans, join Runna today and get your first week free!