Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Signing Up for Your First 5k...Are You Ready?

I ran a local 5k a few Saturdays ago and even though I've done them for what feels like a hundred times, I still get those butterflies before the start. The race was fun very, very hot but it always feels good to complete a race. It's also nice to think that you have already burned over 300 calories while most people are sleeping! I saw several runners who commented that is was their first race which got me thinking, when do you know to finally sign up for your first 5K?

As you already know, I've shared my running story and I decided on a whim to sign up for a 5k held at the Birmingham Zoo.  My friends were doing it and basically thought well if they can do it so can I. Honestly, I hated training for the race. I tried the couch to 5k plan and some people swear by it but I found it boring and wanted to skip steps. Essentially I showed up to the race wearing a comfort colors t-shirt, normal (not running) black leggings and old tennis shoes in the middle of May in Alabama. I had no idea about running fashion at this time! I also didn't really train but I was determined to finish. All things considered I didn't really do that bad, and as soon as I crossed the finish line I knew I wanted to do more races. I just started signing up for as many 5k's as I could find.  Pretty soon I was training for a half-marathon and the next thing I knew I had completed my first marathon back in 2013.

So my question is how do you make the leap to sign up for your first race? Here are a few tips and considerations for deciding if you want to run, what distance and making sure you are ready!

Tip 1: How Long Have You Been Running?

This question is relatively important, are you a new runner? Former runner? Never run before but decide to try it since all your friends are doing it? Training for a 5k is pretty easy in fact 3.1 miles may seem like a long distance, it really isn't that bad. Most people with even just the slightest bit of training can run/walk 3.1 miles. However, that doesn't mean you don't need to practice or train at all. Running is serious business and you can hurt yourself. Even though I have been running for a few years now I can tell when I haven't been working out or training during a race. A 5k is an awesome way to kick start a fitness goal so when you feel comfortable go ahead and take the plunge...register for a race!

Tip 2: Choose A Training Plan

Once you decide you are going to challenge yourself to run a 5k, find a training plan that works for you. I know a lot of people love the Couch to 5k plan, which is a 9 week detailed plan to get you ready to race. I tried this method and didn't particularly care for it but that's just because I had a difficult time following such a strict plan and get bored easily. But I have friends who rave about it and tell me its the only way to train for any distance race. I prefer the Galloway Method which is a run/walk plan focusing on intervals (example: run 1 minute/walk 1 minute) via a timer that beeps at the designated interval. Created by former Olympian Jeff Galloway, this method is proven to work. In fact, there have been several runners (including Galloway) who have qualified for the Boston Marathon with this technique. The walk breaks are a nice refresher and allows you to finish strong. Buy the timer (it's $20) and try it out, I love this method and my times are always faster when I follow the intervals (even faster than just straight running).

Tip 3: Decide on a Race

As I previously mentioned, my first race was at the local zoo. It was a great first race since there were a lot of beginners, a large race crowd, and a fun atmosphere. I would suggest a "fun run" such as The Color Run which calls itself "The Happiest Race on the Planet" and perfect for beginners. My favorite 5k's (although they are pricey) are the runDisney 5k's, I mean running through the parks and you get a super cute medal? Yes! There is a 5k to accompany all the long distance event weekends with the 5k typically kicking off the weekend. My picks would be Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 5k (held each January, great as a goal to start the year), the Avengers Super Heroes 5k (did this race last year and loved the theming), Disney Princess 5k (great course) and the Star Wars 5k (also held in January but at the Disneyland Resort, good goal race and fun costumes).

Search around locally for races, for a first race especially if you aren't particularly fast (I wasn't) then a larger race is the better bet. Smaller races are normally more competitive and might not be as much fun as say a Foam Glow Run or a Hot Chocolate 5k . Do a little research and pick a race that YOU want to do. It's your first one, make it memorable!

Tip 4: Have Fun!

You are getting healthy and doing something that the majority of people will never do. Go out there and have your best race and don't compare yourself to other runners. Everyone was a beginner at some point and I guarantee once you have one race under your belt (you may even hate running during the race and swear you will never do it again) trust me you'll be signing up for your next race as soon as you cross your first finish line.

Just a few running apparel ideas (so you don't have to endure running in a cotton t-shirt and looking like a complete newbie like I did):

Royal Blue Team Sparkle Skirt

Gun Metal Visor
Pink Visor
Look Human
Look Human
Look Human
Look Human

I Don't Sweat I Sparkle

Galaxy Sparkle Team Sparkle Skirt

Team Sparkle Schwings (we all need wings on race day)
Look Human

Look Human

**ALL Look Human Tanks and Tees are ONLY $20 on special sale right now**

Happy Running!


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