Making the decision to start training for a 5K is no small feat, especially if running even just five feet seems intimidating. But the truth is, anyone can complete a 5K as long as you decide on a realistic goal and make a plan to achieve it.
One of the biggest obstacles to achieving 5K success is taking on too much too quickly. Runners tend to develop a mentality of faster, faster, faster. This guide for success helps you focus on better, better, better. Let’s look at a few healthy ways to set goals for your first 5K and how movement medicine with Elevate Yoga & Wellness can help.
Goal #1: I will complete the race.
If you focus on speed or time for your first 5K, you might come out disappointed. Even worse, you could injure yourself. For your first 5K, set a realistic goal of simply completing the race. 3.2 miles is no joke! Whether you run, jog, walk or do some combination of all three, pushing your body to move for more than three miles straight is something to be proud of.
Goal Setting Tip: Find a race that is on flat terrain and is in moderate temperatures. For your first race, you want to run a course similar to the roads or trails you are most frequently on. Train in the shoes and the clothes you intend on wearing. You don’t want any major changes on race day that might throw your body — or mind — for a loop.
Goal #2: I will run at a pace that makes it challenging to talk.
Instead of trying to shoot for a breathtaking, back-breaking pace, learn to set goals by listening to your body. Work up your speed to a place where you cannot maintain a conversation, but you can maintain your breath. This is a challenging, yet healthy, pace that will help you build endurance and stamina.
Goal Setting Tip: Use a smartwatch or running app to track your progress. MyRunningPal and RunTastic are two free apps that connect to the GPS on your phone. Elevate your game with a fitness tracker like a Garmin or Apple Watch.
Goal #3: I will make a training plan that I can stick to.
If you try to change too much too soon when it comes to creating a running habit, you may find yourself burning out pretty quickly. For example, if you tend to hit snooze until the very last minute, starting a running routine at 5 a.m. may not take hold. Or, if you work long, late hours, running five days a week may lead you to further exhaustion. Find a training plan that works with your life the way you already live it. Most importantly, work on your mobility through yoga and other exercises.
Goal Setting Tip: Find something that will motivate you to stick with it. For example, if you enjoy listening to motivating music while you’re training, purchase a pair of headphones. There are many wireless options available that prevent you from having to deal with wires.
Goal #4: I will use the results of my 5K to set new goals.
Goals need to be rooted in reality. If you have never run before — let alone three miles — deciding you will do so in under 20 minutes might be a bit too heavy-handed. However, training responsibly for a race and then deciding to go three minutes faster for your next race is a good, realistic goal that you can plan and work toward.
Goal Setting Tip: Using your smartwatch or a fitness tracker, try increasing your speed or distance in short bursts. For example, if you’re focusing on speed, you can run half a mile at your normal pace, then a quarter mile 10 percent faster, and then a 10th of a mile 15 percent faster. Use the remaining quarter mile for recovery.
Running has so many benefits. It’s no wonder so many people of all ages, shapes, and sizes lace up their shoes and give it a shot. Make your new habit stick by trying out some of these goals. And remember — running is a full-body workout. It’s important you rest, recover, and listen to your body’s needs.