How to train for a 5K

As you all know, I am a Journalist and have had a massive project recently with WebMD.
Here is my first feature of the year with them, which takes you through how to train for a 5k.
I’ve always gone for longer distances in the past, but since having Lacie, I always do a 5k on a Thursday with my running buggy. It’s the perfect distance for getting some running in, without it taking over the morning – and her getting too bored too!
Here it is. The original can be found here at WebMD, a website jam-packed with trustworthy and timely health and medical news and information

Sofa to 5K
By Lucy Miller
WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Caroline Cross, a running buff, is the first to admit that she didn’t enjoy running The Berlin Marathon as much as she thought she would. Towards the end of her training she was counting down the long runs and early mornings, and literally hobbled over the finishing line – “the last 10k, was the worst,” she says. The achievement of running a marathon is amazing but it’s certainly not for everyone. You not only have to be fit, but you have to be super committed to your training – no more Sunday morning lie-ins!
In preparation for her first marathon, Caroline had run plenty of half marathons and 10k races. She also did a short and sharp run most Saturday mornings, particularly the Parkrun, a free organised 5k run, where she could monitor her time each week and race against other runners. “5k’s are great for speed training and building stamina,” she says. “I have always found that by adding in 5k’s to my training it has helped my performance with longer distances.”

A 5k community
Founded by Paul Sinton-Hewitt in 2004, the idea of Parkrun originated from the initial Bushy Parkrun event, in Teddington, Middlesex.
It started when Paul had a knee injury. He was bored and wanted to stay involved with the running community, so on October 2, 2004, he got 13 of his friends to turn up at Bushy Park and timed them over a 5km course. They went again the next week and then the next, and slowly the word spread and the number of runners turning up grew. It became a regular event, then, during 2007, six more events started up and Parkrun was born.

Parkrun is now one of the most popular runs you can do, and as of March 2014 there have been over 500, 000 participants, with around 375 locations to choose from. Who would have thought so many people would be up and about at 9am (9.30 in Scotland) on a Saturday morning, looking forward to a community-based 5 kilometre run?

“It’s a great start to a Saturday morning and there’s a great atmosphere with a real sense of community with runners from the local area,” says Caroline. “I like the fact that it is also open to everyone and you can run as a family. It is even better when you break a personal best (PB).

Why 5k?
According to Runner’s World, 5k – 3.1 mile’s is the perfect distance for beginners. It’s short and snappy, and “you can fit it quite easily into your day as it doesn’t take up much time,” says Caroline. “It’s also an extremely accessible distance for everyone and for all abilities. Even if you are new to running you can have a go and run it at a pace you are comfortable with.”
Here, the expert’s talk about how you can join Caroline in going from the couch to a 5k course, paying attention not only to your physical training but also your mental attitude. (It’s always recommended, especially for adults over 50, that sedentary people check in with their doctor before starting to train.)

Getting started
When sticking to a training plan, the best thing to do is find a time to train that suits you. Lots of people find that running first thing fits in best, “the whole day is then at your disposal without the need to go for a run hanging over you,” says Nick Anderson, running coach at The Run Lunge. “Most races are usually early on a Sunday morning, so you will start to train your body to respond to an early run in the right way. Remember, the early bird catches the worm!”
“Build up slowly too,” suggests Alex Rahim, Personal Trainer at Virgin Active, “and try not to increase your speed or distance too early. It won’t take you long to prepare for a 5k, so don’t panic.”

Dress for the occasion
If it’s dark and cold outside, then it will make it harder to get out the door. According to Caroline, “The most important thing is to dress sensibly by wearing layers – a bit like an onion.”
Chose a lightweight top for your base layer, then wear a light waterproof jacket or fleece over the top. To keep your legs warm, wear a pair of running leggings underneath a pair of shorts or go for some thick fleecy leggings that can be bought from most good running shops.
You tend to lose around 20% of heat through your head so make sure you wear a hat and a pair of gloves too. There’s nothing worse than fingers that are so cold they hurt – and if you get too warm you can always take them off.

Make training convenient for you
“Look to use your time efficiently, build running into your commute, consider the value of even a short, 20 minute run at lunchtime and skip work drinks and encourage colleagues to join you as well,” says Tom Craggs, UKA Running Coach and coaching advisor to Saucony UK, High5, Adidas UK and SenseCore. “Use your personal time efficiently. We all ‘waste’ time each day. Sleep or a good stretching session is of more value to both your training and your overall health than 30 minutes of ‘smart phone’ time in bed late at night.”

Staying motivated
The only way to stick to your plan is to “Examine all the potential barriers that could get in the way and work out in advance how you’re going to deal with them,” says Robin Gargrave of Central YMCA, the activity for health charity. “Look to train with other people – get yourself down to your local running club or Run England group or get a friend or family member to sign up with you,” says Tom. “Many studies suggest that our partners can have a big influence on our behaviour and our health, with a more recent study by University College, London, suggesting that men and women are three times or more likely to achieve their resolution when their partner joined in the challenge.

Set goals
“Always set SMART goals,” explains Alex. “These are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and have a Time frame.”
Write down the reasons you want to do the 5k. This could be as simple as improving your health, losing weight or looking better in your clothes.
“Without goals, training has a lack of direction and purpose meaning the performance outcome will not be fulfilled to its potential,” says Alex.

Break it down into manageable chunks
First, pick the date for your 5k. “Six to eight weeks should be fine, however bear in mind this is not as long as it seems.
“Once you have your date, then begin finding a comfortable pace and run for time as opposed for distance to get the body used to running for a length of time,” says Alex. “Do this for approximately 2 weeks then build in some interval sessions (where you run faster than your average pace for a period like 30 seconds, and doing a walk recovery for 90 seconds) twice a week for 2 weeks. Running hills are important in any running programme too and this can be included in the last 2 weeks of your 6 to 8 week plan.”
Don’t forget your rest days too. Your body needs time to recover in order to get faster. “Look to take a minimum of one complete rest day a week, more for less experienced runners,” says Tom. “Respect that your body progresses and develops through your rest and it’s an area most runners forget.”
If you’re inspired to lace up your trainers and start training for a 5k, then Alex suggests that you: “always try and do one to two strength sessions per week, plus three running sessions per week. Strength training will help prepare the body for impact, and the running sessions do not have to be any longer than 30 minutes at a time so will not affect time out of your day too much.”

Good Luck!

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