10 Things You Should Know About Training for Your First 5k Run

10 Things You Should Know About Training for Your First 5k Run
10 Things You Should Know About Training for Your First 5k Run

Have you made the decision to enter your first 5k run? This is definitely a big task to accomplish, especially if this is your first time. But, a 5k is a great race to enter as a beginner. It is a run that is of a relatively easy distance for most adults, since a 5k is only about 3.1 miles. It still requires some time to prepare for, though. It may not be a very long distance race, but no one should participate in it without some training. Typically, you should devote at least two months of training and conditioning before your race, and as with any sport activity, you want to make sure that you are in your best physical shape. Not only will it prepare you for your run, it will also just bring you to a healthier state. Plus, being in healthier shape will reduce your chances of injury during your run. The goal here is to finish your first 5k, not suffer from an injury because you weren’t prepared for it.

There are many reasons to enter a 5k, including for specific causes or charities. Maybe you have started your journey to participate in other, more advanced races? Perhaps you just want to get into better shape, or cross this off of your life accomplishment list? They’re all important reasons, and you should be at your best to reach your goal. So, here are 10 things you should know about training for your first 5k run.

10 You Should Have Goals to Put Into Motion

Have a goal in mind. Winning probably shouldn’t be on the table right out of the gate.


Now that you’ve signed up and are entered into your first 5k, you need set up goals for yourself. Goals help to keep you motivated and focused. They provide direction as you train and bring purpose to what it is you are training for. Goals also provide vision to see the results of your hard work, as well as help you to stay driven to accomplish your success. Find some training classes to increase your strengths, and make a calendar that displays what you need to do each day as you prepare for your race. Keep track of what you have already accomplished, too, as it will push you to do more and eventually move you forward. Also, keep a schedule so you have each step in your training planned out each day.


Staying motivated is key when you start training for a 5k run, and it can get difficult to keep up with if you don’t have any goals set. In fact, goals are the very first step to success, whether you’re training for a 5k or finishing a project for work. Without them, you may stray from what needs to be done for you to succeed. Setting goals is an important habit to develop. So, if you are prone to procrastinate, setting goals for this 5k run may help you break this cycle. Not only will you finish the race you signed up for, you’ll feel the rewards that the accomplishment of finishing it will give you. This opens the doors to finishing any other goals you may have for yourself in the future, and sets you up for a better path to success.

9You Should Make Sure You Have the Right Gear and Equipment

You gotta have your training gear!


With any sport or active activity there’s usually gear and equipment required or recommended to use. The same goes for running. Of course, the first thing you need is a good pair of running shoes. It would be in your best interest to find a pair just for your training and race day. Running can put a lot of stress on your feet, knees, legs and back. Not wearing the proper shoes, and even wearing shoes that you’ve had for some time, can potentially cause injury. This is especially the case if this is your first time running a great distance. Invest in a good pair of shoes designed for running, as they will provide the support and the comfort you will need to keep going.


You may also want to invest in comfortable clothing, and active wear comes with many benefits. There are plenty of different options and features that come with the many brands out there, too. You’ll want to reduce the distraction that loose fitting clothing may cause. Much of what is available is made with light comfortable materials that can reduce chafing and help keep you cool. Some also provide extra muscle support as well. If you’re a female, it is highly recommended that you find a good sports bra. You don’t want to be distracted with needing to keep straps in place or lack of support. Lastly, you need to stay hydrated, so have a water bottle handy. Dehydration can pose serious complications for you.

8Training for Your 5k Race Should Start in the Weeks Ahead

You’ve gotta work! In those weeks before the race.


You have your goals put in place and now the right equipment. So now what? Start training! Training your body for a run is always recommended and honestly, just smart, especially for beginners. For most runners, there are several weeks set aside for conditioning and strengthening before every run, including for a 5k. There are plenty of exercise programs available out there designed specifically for runners, by runners. So, it is a good idea to find a routine that you think would be best for you. If you aren’t used to running, you might want to get your body used to walking and motion, first. Start with a small distance and increase it as you go along in your training. During this time, you should put a strengthening routine into your regimen, as well. Running is strenuous and the stronger your muscles are the easier running will be for you. Plus, a stronger body will increase your speed and stamina to stay in the race to win!


To be a faster runner, you should also practice running faster than you normally would. One way to do this is to add sprinting to your training routine. This will help get your body used to moving at increased speeds, plus, it’ll get that heart rate up and increase the oxygen in your blood. If you are want to drop a few pounds as part of your goal, this will also help you burn a few extra calories, too! Also, add running up short hills, too. This will help you develop muscle power, speed and increase your endurance.

7Diet is More Important Than You Might Think

Watch what you eat during training.


Now that you are training for your first 5k run and working towards being in better shape, you should also start working on the inside, too. What and how you eat can have an effect on you and your running. With all the body conditioning and exercise during your training and even on race day, a poor diet can reduce your performance. Running requires a lot of energy to perform and can deplete the nutrients your body needs. Your body needs fuel, and a good diet will not only help you perform better, it will also just make you a healthier person over all.


There are three things you should have in your diet when training for your first 5k run. First, you need to have carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are probably the most important type of nutrition for runners and anyone who is exercising regularly. They are the fuel that your body needs, and if you aren’t getting enough, you’ll suffer with fatigue and start feeling sluggish. Vegetables are a great way to get those carbohydrates in, as they are full of carbs, but have low calories. The second thing you should pay attention to is protein. Protein will provide an extra source of fuel for your body. It also aids in muscle recovery after a workout or run. Great sources of protein come from chicken, certain types of fish, eggs, nuts and cheeses. Thirdly, pay attention to your calories. You should determine how many calories you should or should not have to meet your weight goals. When adding exercise and running into your life, you need to be aware of your caloric intake, and remember, since you are exercising, you need more calories than if you were sitting on the couch.

6Flexibility and Endurance Also Come Into Play When Training.

It’s key to stay loose when prepping for a race.


Two very important components to pay attention to when training for a 5k run, are flexibility and endurance. Strengthening your body is naturally important and comes with your training and exercise. However, to continue becoming stronger, you need to increase your flexibility and endurance. One way to do this is before you run or go into a workout, you need to warm up and prepare your muscles for use. Add a stretching routine before and after you move. This will help increase your heart rate, open your muscles and stretch out those tendons and hamstrings. Tension in any of those parts can cause painful injuries and take you out of the race, and these stretches will help to avoid that.


Then there’s endurance, also referred to as stamina. This is just as important when training for a 5k run as flexibility, and endurance increases as you continue to train. A good way to build endurance is to increase, or push yourself, farther then you have been previously. Once you have reached your limits, slow down and continue walking. The point is to always keep moving and having your muscles still engaged in activity. Eventually, you will build the endurance to be able to keep quicker speed for a longer period of time and not need to take frequent walks during your 5k race. Although walking during a race can help you prevent from potential injury, it does slow your finishing time. Being able to maintain a decent speed and pace is key in any race, and Increasing your stamina will help you achieve this.

5You Should Find Moral and Mental Support

Get the support of a friendly hypnotist to trick you into running! We kid.


As with making any new change or doing something new, it’s always good to find moral and metal support. Especially when you’re training for a race. It can get difficult to stay focused and stay motivated, alone, but preparing yourself mentally is as equally as important as preparing yourself physically. Nervousness, anxiety and second guessing yourself can creep in on you as you train for your first 5k run, and this can take a toll on achieving your goal. Remove the worst case scenarios from your mind as soon as possible as tell yourself every day that you can do it. Give yourself a pep talk every time doubt enters into your mind, and keep reminding yourself of the reason or reasons you decided to do this in the first place.


If you can, find a friend to train with you as well. Having a buddy will boost your mood if you begin to feel down and you won’t feel like you are doing it all alone. They can provide encouragement if you feel like slowing down or giving up. A running buddy can also distract you if your training becomes daunting and make it fun again. If you are lucky and have friend who is a runner themselves that would be even more beneficial if they could train along with you. They could give you advice based their own experience and provide inspiration for you. They know the ins and outs of what it takes. If they can do it, so can you, right?

4Don’t Let Stress Get the Best of You

Don’t get stressed. Keep your eyes on the prize.


Deciding to train and run in a race takes a big commitment. It doesn’t have to be a stressful process, even though at times, it probably will. You’ll be doing something healthy for yourself, becoming a better you, something that we should all probably do. You took that step to do that, and it is the most important thing that should be on your mind, however there is one rule you should remember: Don’t stress! After all, this is your first 5k run. Making it across the finish line, no matter what place you are in, is amazing in itself and an enormous accomplishment! Sure, you will be running among a sea of strangers early in the morning on race day. You’ll probably be nervous, anxious and excited all at the same time. You’ve trained and worked hard for this day and worry if you will make it. Chances are, every person standing at that start line will feel the same as you. As with any commitment, there will always be those moments of uncertainty and doubt. That is what comes with it. Preparing for a race is difficult, running in a race is hard, but that’s why you signed up in the first place, right? So, finishing a race is proof that you are better than that version of yourself before you added your name to that list. No matter what place you are in when you finish, the point is that you did. So, don’t stress and enjoy your accomplishment.

3You Should Get Familiar with The Route Before You Begin

Check out the race route before race day.


One of the best things you can do to have an advantage on your 5k run is to get familiar with the route. If you entered a race that is being held in your local area, it is recommended that you get familiar with it. This will help you to know what obstacles you will be facing, and if you can actually run the route during your training for the race, it will be even more beneficial. When you do this, you’ll be able to determine an even more specific training plan for yourself. You’ll have a feel for the route long before the race even starts, and you will be able to see exactly where your strengths and weaknesses are on the route, giving you time to correct them.


Some of the things you will want to ask when training on the race route include: How the path itself is and the condition of it? Will it have rough pavement or holes? Is the path flat and straight? Are there any hills you will encounter? Are those hills steep or not so steep? Does the path run through the city mostly or will you have to run on natural ground? Will the weather cause changes to any of these factors? Getting familiar with the route you’ll be running will just further prepare you for your first race and not make it such an unfamiliar task.

2There is Work to Do in the Days Before the Race

Get your race day stuff ready in advance.


Now it’s almost race time! There are a few things you should and shouldn’t do before your 5k. Don’t rush to a retail store and buy a pair of new shoes to use before the race. You should run in shoes you have already used and broken in. New shoes can cause blisters and discomfort because they are rather rigid from never being used. Another thing is to stay off your feet for a couple of days before your race. You should have fresh legs and feet on the day of the race. Also, try not to eat any big meals before your race starts. Instead, eat small, light portions throughout the day before the race starts, and try to stick with carbs and protein. A heavy meal can cause you to get an upset stomach, making it difficult to run.


If it is possible, get your bib number or chip the day before the race. It will be one less thing to worry about on race day when your nerves are already on high alert. Lay out everything you will need for race day the night before, too. This includes the clothing you will wear and the shoes you will use. Of course, your nerves will be high making it difficult to sleep, but try and get a full night’s sleep for a few days prior and the night before.

1You Will Enjoy Your First Race Day!

Remember, have fun!


It’s the day you’ve been preparing yourself so hard for! Race day! You have finally made it! The days before the race were nerve wracking, and are now at their peak. You are confident and you are ready to run, but there are still a couple of things for you to know. First things first, arrive early, at least an hour before the race starts. If you weren’t able to obtain your identification beforehand, such as your bib number or tracking device, you should get that done as soon as possible. Also, take some of that extra time to warm up and stretch before the race starts, as you want your muscles warmed up and ready to run. Try and get up to the start line early, too. You don’t want to have to rush until you start your run.


Additionally, don’t drink too much water right before and during the race once it’s starts. It can cause discomfort and make you have to stop more frequently to use the restroom, thus taking time. When you do drink, take small sips instead of taking large gulps of water to keep yourself hydrated during your run. A common practice among runners to quench dryness of the mouth is to rinse and spit a mouthful of water. Lastly, set a goal for yourself during your run and don’t be discouraged if you fall a little behind. If you do, set another goal and keep moving! Today you are doing something great for yourself and that’s all that matters, so push yourself to the finish line!

Running a 5k race can, at first, seem quite intimidating. Even though a 5k doesn’t seem like a big deal for a seasoned runner, it is difficult for the beginner. It requires a commitment to do all the training and make all these changes in your life to be able to accomplish it, and once you decided to enter a race, you decided to challenge yourself. A challenge you make to yourself can be one of the most difficult to fulfill, but whatever the reason may be for this personal challenge, it’s a good one.


Remember, at times you’ll feel as if you can’t do what it takes to get yourself prepared, but if you set your goals and stick with them, you can. Perhaps you will inspire a friend to join you and you both will work towards better versions of yourselves. You also might be surprised to find that there will be people at the race you don’t even know cheering you on for trying to do something like this. Keep yourself focused on the goals you have set, and you will cross a finish line into bigger and better things. Perhaps another race? Who knows. These races can be addicting, so don’t be surprised if you are signing up for a second one in the near future.