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5 Steps for Your First 5K

By Jane Schwartz Harrison, RD, Staff Nutritionist
9/27/2012 9:40:47 PM

You may not have a marathon on your mind, but if your goal is to run in a race for the first time, proper training is still very important.

The Color Run 5k. Photo courtesy of The Pug Father

A 5K (3.1 mile) race is a good place to start. Having a short race to train for could give you the motivation you need to get in shape.

The following tips can help get a beginning runner on the right path to the finish line.

1. Set realistic goals

A 5K race is a goal most beginning runners will be able to achieve. Forget about going for the gold your first time out. Go at a pace that's comfortable for you. Don't worry about how fast or slow you are. Just aim to have fun and finish the race if you can.

2. Do basic training

First, check with your doctor to make sure it is safe to start a running program. Then plan on an 8- to 10-week training program as recommended by the American Council on Exercise.

-If you have never tried a running program before, you may want to start with an 8-day walking routine before you start to run. Walk for 20 minutes the first 4 days, then walk for 30 minutes the next 4 days.

-If you have no trouble, then consider a 30-minute circuit of running for 2 minutes and then walking for 4 minutes five times in a row. You may want to follow this routine three times a week until you are comfortable.

-Each week, adding a minute to the running time and subtracting a minute from the walking time may help you get ready. Keep it up until you are running the whole 30 minutes, if you're able.

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