Running is an excellent way to lose weight and increase your fitness levels. The problem is that when you have done virtually no exercise for years, the thought of entering and competing in a 5k running event is pretty daunting. But it can be done—all you need is some motivation and an easy to follow training plan. So if you fancy working towards a 5k run, here is my simple guide to achieving your goal safely.
Health & Safety
For most people, a 5k training plan won’t cause them any problems as long as they don’t try and do too much, too soon. However, if you are significantly overweight or you have pre-existing health problems, it is a good idea to have a health check-up before doing any strenuous exercise.
The Right Shoes
Running is a high impact sport and the right footwear is essential unless you want your training programme to be sabotaged by injury very quickly. To avoid any problems, make sure you buy some proper running shoes that actually fit, and for best results, have your running shoes fitted by an expert in a specialist running shop.
The Progression Rule
The key to a successful 5k training plan for beginners is to take it slowly. There is little point in going out and running until you fall over with exhaustion, wash, rinse and repeat. All that will do is burn you out and destroy your legs. Instead, try a walk-run approach. In the beginning, walk the majority of the time and only run for very short spells. Then, as your fitness improves, reduce the amount of walking and increase the running intervals.
Time vs. Distance
Train by time or distance—either is fine, but don’t chop and change the two or it will become confusing.
Try and train every other day. Rest days are very important, particularly with a high impact sport like running. Your body needs the rest days to recover and repair itself, so even though you may be keen (or not!) to get back out there, either rest completely or do a different, low-impact sport such as swimming in between.
Roads vs. Treadmill
Running on a treadmill is just as effective as running outdoors, although a lot more boring it has to be said. Do whatever suits you best, although remember to add some incline to the treadmill to make up for the lack of wind resistance indoors. It is also a good idea to do some of your running outdoors if you plan on competing in a 5k running event, or your legs will find the extra impact of running on hard ground a bit of a shock to the system.
(Image by Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
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