8 Preparation Tips To Run A Successful 5k

That time of year is coming up soon when lots of 5k races will be taking place. It’s a very popular event to attend for beginner runners who want to get their toes wet. Advanced runners also benefit from these races by working working on their speed. If you have checked out the article, 5 Fitness Events That Make Workouts Exciting, you will find out how attending events like this can motivate you to get fit. For beginners it can be pretty nerve wracking because you may not know what to expect or how to prepare. That’s why I want to share these 8 preparation tips to run a successful 5k. Even advanced runners can get some hints on how to improve their 5k speed to set a new personal record.

1 – Sign Up For An Event

I know this probably sounds ridiculously basic, but I promise you that it will help to get you prepared. The trick is to do some research and find a race a few months from now. Sign up for it so that you are committed and can’t back out. Then it will be in the back of your mind, so you will naturally want to prepare for it and do your best. Signing up for an event a few months ahead of time also gives you plenty of opportunities to get your friends and family involved. Take a look at, 7 Fun Ways To Get Your Whole Family Active, to see other ideas on getting your family involved.

2 – Train For The Event At Least 3 Days Per Week

Don’t run every single day to prepare for the race, you will just burn yourself out. Not to mention, your knees may not be too happy with you after a while either. You really only have to run 3 days per week. The other days can be saved for other types of training which we will discuss shortly.

Vary the intensities of your running days. The first day of the week make it an intense day where you run sprints on an incline. Beginners may only start with 4 or 5, depending on the sprint length. Advanced runners should be running at least 10 or 12. That will work on your pace and stride length. Advanced runners can benefit from this especially to work on their race time.
After the intense day, you may want to take an easier workout. Don’t go as fast, but work on your distance. Start with a couple miles and work your way up. The last day should be a medium intensity. You want to work on your speed, so keep it under 2 miles.

If you are a beginner you don’t have to run the whole time. Mix some walking in there too. The main thing is that you keep yourself moving when you are training. As your body builds up the endurance level, you will find yourself not walking as much.

3 – Stretch

After some hard running days you may be sore and in need of some serious recover. Besides eating properly, stretching will be your best friend when you are recovering. Keeping your muscles loose will help them heal faster and get stronger. If you don’t stretch your whole body may feel really tight which will amplify the sore feeling.

Take a look at some stretches on the SteadyStrength Youtube Channel to get some ideas for your post-run recovery.

4 – Cross Training

On the days that you are not running, cross training is a very good idea. It will take the redundancy out of your training program. Cross training also prevents plateaus in strength gains and fat loss.
cross train
Cross training comes in many forms. You can attend some martial arts workouts like karate or kickboxing. Playing sports like basketball, soccer, or tennis can be viewed as cross training if you don’t do them on a regular basis. Swimming and biking are also good cross training activities that will provide you with some cardio.

5 – Resistance Training

It’s extremely important to add resistance training to your routine, even if you are a runner. That is a common mistake that runners make. They ONLY run. Lifting weights prevents muscle imbalances from forming due to the constant running pattern. Strengthening your muscles will also help you build speed and prevent injuries. The lifting does not have to be at a super high intensity with extremely heavy weight. Use more moderate weight and keep the repetition count relatively high. The volume should be around 3 sets and 10 to 15 repetitions.
resistance train

6 – Warm-up Properly

You should get into the habit of warming up before every workout. That way when you get to the event day you have a routine that works best for you already in place. Check out How To Effectively Warm-up With Dynamic Stretching. I have found that dynamic stretching works best when preparing your body for workouts or fitness events. It prepares your muscles to work efficiently and increases body temperature. You’re also less likely to get a pulled muscles or other injury.

7 – Eat Properly

When you are training it’s important to eat a good amount of food that is high in nutritious value like vitamins and minerals. You want to take in mostly carbohydrates because that is the main energy source on long bouts of cardiovascular activity. You will need less protein, but it’s also needed to help your muscles recover. Make sure the protein that you eat is high in quality. Lean chicken, turkey, or fish are all great choices.
running meal
On the day of the race, eat 3 to 4 hours before so that your body has time to digest the food and have it ready to use for energy. You don’t want food just sitting in your stomach as you try to run a long distance. That’s just asking for cramps and abdominal pain.

8 – Have Fun!

On race day release yourself from pressure. If it’s your first time then don’t place a ton of expectations on yourself. At every event you will find that many people walk the whole way. Some walk and jog for periods of time. Most 5k runs are pretty laid back and you can go at your own pace.

Pace yourself to finish in a time that satisfies you. Don’t try to sprint the whole thing, but push yourself to keep a pace that you trained for. Running with friends or family that you have been working out with is a good way to keep a solid pace. You can keep each other going throughout the race.

If you’re not having fun then there is no point in doing this. Granted, you have to be realistic and realize that soreness and tiredness is part of the deal. You will surely have fun if you are with family and friends preparing for a race that you can run successfully and feel accomplished. If you liked this article then please share it on facebook. I’m sure some of your friends would love to run a 5k event with you. If you have any other questions about preparing for this type of event, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Adam Pegg About Adam Pegg

Adam is an athlete with a serious passion for fitness and health. He played basketball at University of Delaware and Stetson. His degree is in health science and he's a certified personal trainer who loves helping people reach their goals.