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Your First 5k

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

Hello Indiana Running Community and beyond! My name is Colleen Como, and I am the summer intern for Gingerbread Man Running. I am an exercise science, journalism, and public relations student. Are you looking to begin your running journey but don't know where to start? Look no further! This post compiles some great advice straight from some of the most experienced runners in the community. From shoes to training style to completing your first race, this post will hopefully provide you with some insight.

Shoes and Beyond

Like our fingerprints, each person's body is unique and requires a different shoe. There are many different deviations that our feet, ankles, and hips can take on as we go about our daily lives. These abnormalities can cause unnecessary muscle tightness, joint pain, and postural issues if left untreated. Before running your first 5k, you should be aware of what shoes are going to be best for the integrity of your feet, knees, and ankles so that you can run pain-free for as long as possible. Finding your perfect shoe can be difficult on your own, as there are many different brands, styles, and models of shoe. Stopping by Gingerbread for a shoe fitting and gait analysis will allow us to recommend the best shoe for your body, training style, and race.

Fabric material can also affect your training and competition performance. Choose moisture-wicking fabrics such as wool or blends of polyester, nylon and spandex. Avoid fabrics like cotton, as they will retain sweat and can cause unwanted rashes or chafing.

Training Style

The easiest way to get started with running is to start. Sign up for any race in advance, you will be much more motivated to train knowing that your race gets closer each day. When you begin training, expect to be a beginner. A mile doesn't sound like a lot to start with, until you start. This is one of the biggest traps new runners fall into. Before each run, you should be completing some sort of warm-up to prepare you for the run. Try out some different routines to see how your body responds, and make note of exercises that make your body feel good. Your warm-up routine should be made up of these exercises, along with other dynamic movements that will prepare you for running.

One of the most popular and efficient training styles new runners is interval training. After completing your preferred warm-up, pick an amount of time to run for, we'll use 30 seconds for our purposes. Queue up your favorite tunes and start running for 30 seconds. After finishing your run, walk for 30 seconds, even if you think you are able to run for longer. Repeat this cycle until you have finished your desired distance. A good distance to start interval training with is around 2-3 miles. Stay consistent, and as you improve, you will be able to do this same pattern for 45 seconds, then a minute, then beyond. Before you know it, you will be completing your runs with ease. After this point, you can choose to increase distance, speed, or training style. Always remember to stretch, hydrate and refuel after any strenuous exercise.

Your Race at a Glance

Congratulations! You've made it to race day. If you pre-registered for the race, check in at the designated area. At most 5K races, you are also able to register the day of. Make sure you are familiar with the race route and your individual plan. You should also be familiar with what warm-up is most efficient for your body. One of the biggest tips Matt offers to new runners is to play it safe. During your training, find a mile pace that is challenging but comfortable, and stick to it until you finish your first mile. There will be plenty of time to push yourself in the next part of the race. According to the resident runners in the shop, it is much easier to be the chaser rather than the one being chased. After you pass the halfway point, it is all about getting to the finish line. If you want to push yourself, this is the time to do so. If you're feeling like you need to slow down, do it. Even if you have to walk to the finish line! Exercise is meant to strengthen the mind-body connection and allow you to recognize what your body needs. This always developing connection can benefit you in ways you may not recognize at first, but will ultimately lead to increased individual growth.

If you are looking for a race to start your journey, there are many coming up this summer! Search for a local 5k or check out our website.

Happy running!

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