If you’re looking for a way to change up your routine, whether it’s because you want a new challenge or just to try something different, consider signing up for a 5K. A 5K is a 3.1-mile race, and most cities — especially major ones — frequently have organized ones that anyone can sign up for. (You can search for a race in your area here.) It’s a great goal because it’s accessible to almost any and everyone. (Just make sure that before you start training, you talk to your doctor to make sure you do not have any health problems that would prevent you from incorporating running into your daily activities.)
“The human body is designed for running,” explains Jason Fitzgerald, USA Track & Field certified coach, author of 101 Simple Ways to Be a Better Runner, and creator of Strength Running. “Our ability to keep our head stable while moving — as opposed to, say, a chicken — our large glutes, Achilles tendons, our ability to sweat, and our upright posture and relative low levels of body hair all help us as runners.”
In order to prepare to run a 5K, you’ll need to make tweaks to your exercise and diet plans. Because you’ll be running more each week than you’re used to, you’ll likely need to evaluate your diet, Fitzgerald says, “because all of that running requires energy, which you get from food in your diet. You may even need to increase calories.”
Running can also be linked to some digestive issues. The reason isn’t exactly clear, but things like physical jostling of the organs, decreased blood flow to the intestines, changes in intestinal hormone secretion, increased amounts of food or introduction of a new food, pre-race anxiety, and stress may be contributing factors. Just something to keep in mind as you begin your new routine!
Finally, before your shoes actually hit the pavement, you’ll need a training plan. Below is a training plan created by Fitzgerald for anyone who has never run a 5K before. “This plan is based on time rather than mileage, which is preferable for true beginners,” he says. “All of the runs are at an easy pace.”
Follow Fitzgerald’s eight-week training plan below (after checking with your doctor to make sure it’s appropriate for you) and you’ll be ready for your 5K come race day! And if you’re looking for ways to support your gut health while you start a new workout routine, consider adding Benefiber to your diet. Benefiber is a clear, taste-free plant-based prebiotic fiber that nourishes the good bacteria that exist naturally in your gut1.
A Beginner’s Guide to a 5K Race Training Plan
Week 1-2: Alternate 1 min of running with 1 min of walking
Week 3-4: Alternate 2 min of running with 1 min of walking
Week 5-6: Alternate 3 min of running with 1 min of walking
Week 7-8: Walk only when needed
The warm up routine is performed first, then the run-walk. Warm up routine can be found here.
Strides are performed after the run is complete. Strides are about 100m accelerations where you start at a jog, build to about 95% of your max speed, and then gradually slow to a stop. One stride should take you about 20-30 seconds.
You can start with four strides and after 3-4 weeks increase that to six. Take about 45-90 seconds of walking or standing in between each stride to catch your breath. Running strides is not an aerobic workout so don’t rush them – you get zero additional benefit by shortening the recovery period!1 These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.