— You try to do a few pushups and discover that certain body parts refuse to leave the floor.
— Your children look through your wedding album and want to know who Dad’s first wife was.
— You come to the conclusion that, if God really wanted you to touch your toes each morning, He would have put them somewhere around your knees.
— You step on a talking scale and it says, “Come back when you are alone.”
— Author unknown
By the time you read this, you will have just over six weeks to get ready for the annual Rumba on the Lumber 5K race scheduled for March 7, which is just enough time to train.
While in past articles I have encouraged you to go out and walk the 3.1 miles, this time I am taking it a step further and telling you to run! The five-kilometer race is the most popular race distance in America today. Here in Southeastern North Carolina, we are within easy driving distance to a 5K road race on any given weekend.
Racing is a great way to stay in shape and a great way to give back to your community, since most 5K’s are fundraisers. 5K’s are great because just about anyone can do them, young, old or even someone pushing a stroller. If you have done no running previously, give yourself at least six weeks, if you are already running some, you can probably get by with a month. Either way, to begin training for a 5K, you need a game plan.
Here are five easy steps to get you to success:
— Step one: Get equipment.
The first step is to get into clothes and shoes that fit right. If you are uncomfortable in what you are wearing or if your shoes don’t fit right, running is not going to be an enjoyable experience for you, and you probably won’t stick with it. Buying the right running shoes is important — both for comfort while running and to prevent injury. The wrong shoes can cause back and leg pain blisters and other foot problems. When buying shoes, it is best to deal with a running store where the sales associates are trained to assist you. You can also go online to www.runnersworld.com and click on the shoe finder tab to help select the shoe that is best for you. As for clothing, make sure you dress for the weather and find shorts and shirts that don’t chafe your skin.
— Step two: Pick a 5K and sign up.
This one is easy. Get an entry form for the Rumba and send it in! Remember, the goal for your first 5K should be to complete it and have fun, not necessarily win, and definitely not make yourself miserable. When picking your race, make sure you leave enough time for adequate training (six weeks if you are not an active runner). It is a good idea to mark it on your calenda, in big red ink so you can see it every day as a reminder to stick with your goal! Once you have chosen your race, it is time to get running.
— Step three: Come up with a plan.
Your plan for running your first 5K should involve both an exercise plan and a healthy eating plan. Make sure you pay attention to the food going into your body and to make better choices about that food. Once you start running, your appetite will increase. Don’t deny yourself food as you need fuel in order to run. Rather, just pick better foods to eat, stay away from sugary snacks or food loaded with fat and, instead, eat foods high in carbs and protein and low in fat. Granola bars and fruit are a great snack; pasta and lean chicken are also great choices.
It is important to set up a running plan, mark out six weeks on your calendar and the workouts you will do for each week. For my training, I always use the Smart Coach at www.runnersworld.com. Smart Coach allows you to plug in the race time you are aiming for, how hard you are willing to train and how much time you have before the race. Print this plan out, hang it on your fridge and stick with it.
— Step four: Follow through with the plan.
It is important to stay on track, especially when you are setting a time limit on yourself (six weeks). Keep the date of your race written on your calendar in red ink so you see it every day, hang the racer flier or race information on your fridge or your mirror to remind yourself. Set goals for yourself and reward yourself when you get there. Some reward ideas might include a new running shirt for two weeks of training completed or an extra low-fat snack for a great workout. Don’t let one missed workout derail your course — things happen, we get sick, or have bad days. Get right back on track the next day.
— Step five: Show up on race day.
Believe it or not, a lot of people blow this. Don’t be scared! You can do it. Even if you didn’t hit every workout goal on your plan, race anyway. Once you get going, hear your friends and family cheering, and smell the great chili cooking, it will all be worthwhile.
Running your first 5K will likely lead you to running more and more races. You will meet like-minded people, get in shape and reap the health benefits of a running lifestyle. What are you waiting for? Get your Rumba registration, buy your shoes and get training. I promise you will have a great time.
— Kathy Hansen is an avid runner and has over 20 years experience in the health and fitness field. She can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.