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4 Aug 2011

5 Things To Know Before Your First 5K

You've signed up, you've logged the training miles and race day is almost here! Taking on your first 5K can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. Here, find the best tips when it comes to running for beginners. These will help you maximize the enjoyment out there—and make your first 5K fun, fast and stress-free.


1. Keep it light: During race week, your running mileage should decrease. At this point, your training is really about "storing up" rest so your legs are ready on race day. During the week, include 2 to 3 short runs with a few, small pick ups—short, snappy segments that get your legs moving faster and prepare you for the faster tempo of the race—to keep your legs fresh. Two days out from the race, take a day off for total rest. The day before the race, do a short (20-minute) run with up to 5 pick ups under 45 seconds to sharpen your legs.

2. Get your z's two nights before: Pre-race jitters tend to strike the night before the race, interrupting your sleep. When it comes to running for beginners or even experienced racers, trust that this is normal and will not influence your race. Prepare yourself instead by getting quality sleep two nights before the race and taking that day completely off from any activity.
3. Warm it up: About 25 minutes prior to the race, get warmed up. Start with a 10 minute easy jog, then slowly build your pace for 5 minutes. Then, include up to 5 short pick ups under 30 seconds at race pace . Gently stretch any tight muscles after your warm up.
4. Get in line: The starting line can be crowded and nerve-wracking with so many people and different paces. Starting in the middle to back of the pack is safe for most beginners. You will start with those around your pace and you will have many more ahead of you to chase down.
5. Keep it positive: When things get tough, it's common for the little voice in your head to start telling you all the reasons why you will fail or why you should slow down. Often, having a positive mantra for the race—such as "I can do it" or "Fast feet to the finish line"—will distract you from any pain and keep you focused. Practice these affirmations during your harder training sessions so they become automatic on race day.
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