“There’s no feeling like finishing a 5k.”

Couch to 5k Run

Are you thinking about getting back in shape, but don’t know how to start? Have you made many resolutions and begun multiple exercise programs in the past, but not stuck with them?

You should consider running a 5k!

What’s a 5k, you ask?

A 5k is a 5 kilometer or 3.1 mile run, typically run as a road race. There are tons of them across the US all year long. They usually have a small sign-up fee, and are often held as fundraisers for charities, organizations, or in memory of someone. While some are more competitive, most will accept runners of all levels (and walkers if that’s more up your alley!).

The “couch to 5k” name in itself shows that this trend is a great first step for those looking to become more active and healthy. It’s an excellent goal to work towards. However, while many start training with the best of intentions, not everyone succeeds. Just because you have this objective doesn’t mean all your old barriers are going to disappear.

In order to help you cross that finish line, I’m providing my tips and tricks for new exercisers/runners. When you lace up your shoes and face that open front door, you’ll now have the ramp you need to hop those hurdles!

Set a date

The advantage of the 5k goal is that it has a set distance, at a set place, on a set date. Or at least it needs to be, if you want to stick to it! So the very first thing you need to do is sign up for an actual 5k. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to train. If you are a complete newbie or very old friend to exercise/running, give yourself at least 8 weeks. Everyone is different and will need different amounts of training time. Make it realistic for yourself. If you are overweight and would like to lose some weight before taking running for a spin, begin with a longer walking program and then transition to running. But it’s important to set the date at the beginning so you’ll have no choice but to get your behind moving every day.

Get the right equipment

Now I don’t mean you need fancy exercise equipment. Just make sure to invest in a good pair of running shoes so you don’t injure yourself. If you’re unsure where to start, many running stores across the country have well-trained employees who can help you figure out a good shoe brand, model, and size for you. One of my favorites is Fleet Feet.

Also make sure you have some exercise clothes that fit well and you feel comfortable wearing. Not only does it help get you out the door if you have a nice outfit to wear, but no one wants to exercise if they’re wearing shorts that are too tight or a shirt that’s so big it’s falling off.

Runner's muddy legs
You know you’re a runner when…

Make a schedule

Now it’s time to move! I won’t tell you any specific program (like walk 3 minutes then run 2 minutes and repeat x 6) because I don’t know your exercise history and your specific needs.

There are TONS of programs out there to help. Just find a training schedule that fits your fitness level and go! Do be sure to start light and include 1-2 rest days a week. And try your best not to get discouraged when you first start because it really does get easier the more you run.

Find your inspiration

Imagine this scenario: you just got home from work. Your feet hurt. You’re starving. You have a million chores to do. And all you want is to pour a glass of wine and order takeout. ‘Cause mmm, grown-up juice.

What’s going to get you out the door? Whether it’s a power playlist or a date with your running buddy, figure out what will help you get moving when that’s the last thing you want to do. Have your outfit laid out, and put it on immediately when you get home. Or exercise in the morning to get it out of the way.

If it’s really a bad day and you need to do a lighter workout, that’s fine! We all have bad days. But remember why you started and why it’s important to you, and just move!

But really, is it worth it?

There’s no feeling like finishing a 5k.

Whether you’re racing for time or running to finish, it’s such a gratifying feeling.

Because pushing your body so hard, pushing it to its limit, in the name of a goal you want so badly to achieve, is something to be truly proud of. So few people do it. The majority of people can; they just choose not to. When you finish a 5k, you’ve broken a significant mental barrier by subjecting your body to uncomfortable conditions – yet persisting despite them. You’ve decided that your goals are more important. You’ve chosen to be one of those people who doesn’t give up. And that’s something to be proud of. Truly.