The first 5 kilometers
I want to start by saying that I am not a running coach, nor an expert; just a gal that loves to run. I run at least two days a week and have ran in numerous 5k/10k races, about ten half marathons and one full marathon. I can only speak from my experience and what has worked for me. Take from it what works for you, and leave what doesn’t. You do not have to follow my routine to be successful.
Whether I am setting out to run 5 km, or 42 I approach it fairly similar. First things first is to get into the right mindset...you are doing this, and you are going to follow through. I would say running is 75% mental for me. I have to go in with a positive outlook and tell myself that I will succeed. In my longer runs, I actually do talk to myself, I know it sounds crazy but it is something I learned to do as a hockey goaltender to stay focused. I do find that positive affirmation helps. No, I’m not saying run down the street talking to yourself out loud, it’s an inside your head voice haha. There are running apps as well that have this capability built in like the Nike running app; some days I’m like “No Brian, shut up you’re not helping, you suck”, and others I think “Yes Susan we do have this, we are crushing this!”. If you do benefit from positive feedback while working out, I definitely recommend downloading an app to the device you run with. If you quit in your mind, you are never going to be able to convince your body to succeed.
While we’re talking preparation, an important point to note is proper gear. I won’t talk about this too much because I will do a separate blog post on all of my favorite gear, but you do need a pair of runners made to run at least 5 km. It’s worth going to a running store and having them set you up with the right fit for your arch, instep and stride. The last thing you want is blisters, or unnecessary sore knees and hips. It’s a free assessment, and you don’t have to buy at that moment. Personally I wear asics or mizunos. I need a stiffer, more supportive shoe and they are great. Once you’ve found a pair that works for you, make sure you wear them a few times before busting out a 5k. Aside from shoes, you want lightweight clothing that isn’t going to rub. It also depends on if you’re running indoors, outdoors or what season you’re working with. No matter the season, I go with leggings or tighter shorts so that there is not a lot of loose material to rub. On top I wear a tight, supportive sports bra, because having the girls flopping around does get in the way. If you mentally have anything annoying you, you will fixate on it, and not on succeeding in your run. I’m not picky with tank, tee shirt or long sleeve (weather dependent) but I do not run well if I am too hot. It seems silly but it’s something I fixate on, so I usually under dress so that I am on the cooler side. If I wear a long sleeve, it’s usually an under armour/Lulu lemon style shirt. I know it may seem obvious, but make sure your hair is styled so that it stays in place and doesn’t bother you. Lastly, if you’re running with a device, find a comfy arm band or waist belt that works for you. I won’t talk about vests or water options on this post because with 5k I don’t run with water (unless I’m on the treadmill).
Once you’re mentally prepared and geared up, it’s time to pick your route. If you’re on a treadmill this is simple and you can program it in, adjust your elevation as needed and adjust your speed as you go. If you’re outside, make sure you pick a route that you are capable of completing. Set yourself up for success. If it is your first 5k, don’t pick a super hilly route. Hills make a huge difference in your runs difficulty. If you can, pick a route that is scenic and distracting so that you don’t focus on every single step you’re taking. I love running in the mountains, or along the river because I can blank my mind and just lose myself in my run.
Once I’ve started running, I personally have to have either music, a podcast or a show playing depending on if I’m outside or inside. I pick something that is totally distracting so that I focus on it more than my watch or treadmill stats. I break my runs into 5 minute increments. I will program my app so that it tells me where I’m at every 5 minutes. I take a sip of water if I’m on the treadmill at this time and adjust my pace as needed. If I’m on my treadmill, I actually count down 10,9,8,7...before every 5 minute mark before I take my sip of water just as a mental push. If I feel like stopping, I tell myself I can push for 5 more minutes and I usually forget about wanting to stop once those minutes are up. If I still feel exhausted and unable to keep going after those 5 minutes, I will walk. I rarely walk because I know myself, and I never get back to my pace if I let myself stop. Some people do better with a reset, while others do better if they slow their pace and then pick it up again; you will learn what works for you over time. Have fun, celebrate at your 5 minute marks and if you have to stop, don’t be hard on yourself. It takes time to build stamina, and it will come with consistency. You can’t expect your body to be able to just run 5k off of the couch without training it. It would be like writing an exam and expecting to ace it without studying.
I guess I should share with you how I built the stamina to achieve 5 kilometers. It isn’t a complicated algorithm, that’s why I love running. It’s simple, you start slow and work your way up. I started running in 10 minute intervals. Once I could run for 10 minutes for a week, I started running for 20 minutes. After being able to run for 20 minutes for a few weeks, I bumped it up to 30. My pace started slow, and I avoided hills. Once I was able to run for 30 minutes without stopping, I worked on my pace. I started working on getting up to 5 km in 30 minutes or under. I don’t remember how long it took me, but it took time. I added more variation once I got to that point and added in hills. After achieving 5 km in under 30 minutes, I started increasing my km, and working on my pace. It takes time, and it’s not always easy. Honestly, it still takes me about 15 to 20 minutes to get into my run and start feeling into a rhythm. I know if I push through those first 20 minutes, it gets easier and my mind will start focusing on the distractions rather than every step I’m taking.
Every step is one step closer to reaching your goals. You got this ladies! I can’t wait to hear all about you crushing your #5kfridays.
All my love,