Training for Your First 5k

Race day cometh.

A runner tying their shoe on a sunny street

5k races are increasing in popularity, from charity events to family fun runs and everything in between. They’re short enough to be achievable for people of all ages, yet rigorous enough to prompt some preparation. This guide from Michael T. Muldoon, MS, PT, Rehabilitation Site Manager at Addison Gilbert and Beverly Hospital, includes some

of the important steps you should take to make sure your body is ready come race day.

GEARING UP

Whether you’re running your 5k competitively or just out for a day in support of your favorite cause, there are a couple pieces of running equipment that can help you train and perform well. Most importantly, you will need a pair of well-fitting running shoes. To ensure the right fit, make sure to get your foot measured.

“Our feet grow as we age, so you may not be the same size you were the last time you bought a pair,” said Muldoon. “And don’t forget a sturdy pair of socks to go with them.”

Additionally, you will want loose-fitting, sweat-wicking clothing to wear on race day. It’s good to dress in layers so that you can maintain your body heat as you get further along in the 5k.

“You don’t have to spend a fortune, just make sure the fit is right and you’re comfortable,” Muldoon notes.

TRAINING

Even if you’re a regular runner, training goes a long way toward making race day a success. You’ll want to begin several weeks before the 5k, if possible, so that your body can adapt.

“One important factor in training is to try to mimic the environment in which you will be running,” Muldoon said. “If the course has hills, train on hills. If the race is in the summertime, make sure you acclimate your body to running in higher temperatures, which can take several weeks.”

While you train, make sure you’re treating your body right. Always stretch before you run, stay well hydrated, and don’t push yourself beyond your limits: build your stamina incrementally. Fueling up is important, too, so make sure your eating plenty of veggies and carbohydrates to sustain your exercises.

THE DAY OF

On the day of the 5k, show up early. Give yourself plenty of time to eat, hydrate and stretch properly before you start. A good warmup is crucial to get your mind and your muscles into race-mode.

“As the race progresses, listen to your body and stick to a pace that is comfortable and manageable, and try not to get caught up in the excitement,” advises Muldoon.

5ks are a great reason to get yourself into running shape, so when you find the right one, go for it. Your body will thank you in the long run.