Training Plan

How to Train for Your First 5K

By Coach Jenny Hadfield • For

How to Train for Your First 5K
Crossing the finish line of my first 5K changed my life forever. Drumming up the courage to start the race fueled a newfound confidence that led me to tackle other challenges.

Reaching the finish line ignited the start of a whole new active lifestyle.

Getting Started

I always wanted to run, but every time I tried to run I’d make it to the end of my block–only to start to cry because it wasn’t much fun. Then I’d promptly drag myself back home and toss my shoes in the closet.

 Each time I vowed to quit, never to return again, until I would see my softball coach, Rosemary, run by with a smile so bright it could light up Texas.

More: 7 Tips for Your First 5K

I wanted to run. I just couldn’t figure out how and didn’t think I had the body of a runner.

A Community of Runners

That was, until I started my very first day at an internship in Milwaukee. All of my co-workers were runners, which I found quite intimidating as I couldn’t even make it down my block without tears.

Runners being runners, they challenged me to run a 5K with them at the end of the summer. I promptly explained to them that I wasn’t a runner and I would do almost anything (toilets, filing, laundry) for them, but there was no way I would be running that race.

More: How to Recover After a 5K

What happened next turned out to be a pivotal moment in my life.

Making a Plan

They encouraged me to train with them at lunch and helped me devise a training program that: started with 20 minutes of walking and slowly built up to run-walking and eventually running 30 minutes.

Turns out the combination of an enticing goal (shirt included), a supportive group and a program that started from my humble fitness beginnings (couch potato), was all I needed to tap into my inner runner.

It worked. I finished, and it didn’t even matter that I was almost last and beaten by a 72-year old man!

I went from a chubby, out-of-shape intern, to a runner in a matter of weeks and you can too. I loved it so much I eventually quit my job to coach others in finding their finish lines.

More: Race-Day Tips for Your First 5K

Here are a few tips to get started on your journey to your first 5K.

Define Your Carrot

Register for a 5K and it will serve as your motivation to get in shape and keep your training regular and consistent. The difference between exercising and training for an event is that every workout is purposeful when training and you’re less likely to miss a session if you have a target ahead.

More: Your 3-Step Plan to Run a 5K

Whether this is your first race or you are getting back into shape, running the 5K is a great way to succeed at learning to run and earn a great shirt too.

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