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Training Plan for a 5K

Are you interested in signing up for a 5K this Spring?  Here are some tips to help you reemerge from the winter hibernation back to the outdoors.

people runningThere are several considerations to take into account even prior to the training aspect.  

  • How to dress?
  • Where to run?
  • Am I eating enough or too much?
  • How to do I build my mileage if I have not run in months (for some, years or ever).  

The important thing is that you are getting outside (or treadmill if you prefer) which will naturally increase your dopamine and serotonin allowing you to mentally and physically feel better.  Of course, the goal is to prevent injury so we will discuss the basics of this, as well.

How to dress?

The first thing to do before heading out for a run, whether it’s a nice three-miler (around a 5k) or eighteen-miler, is check the weather.  As poorly as some of the forecasters are in predicting rain/snow, they are pretty good at how temperatures will fluctuate. I will dress in layers based on this, allowing myself to take off gloves/hats to store in jacket pockets if it is cold enough when you start.  Also, I would consider wearing clothing that is bright and reflective, especially if you are running at dawn/night/early AM.

Where to run?

Next, I consider where I am going to run.  

  • Road?
  • Trail?
  • Treadmill?
  • Chasing my dog because he got out?  

How to do I build my mileage

Ok, I signed up for a race/5k.  

How the heck am I supposed to train for this thing?  No matter if you are an accomplished runner or you have never run before in your life, a general rule of thumb is you should not increase your intensity/duration/speed more than 10% per week.  

For someone who is starting from the couch without running in a long time/ever, start by walking 30 minutes straight for one week.  The following week, run for 1 minute and walk for 3 minutes. Following would be running for 2 minutes and walking for 2 minutes. This plan would allow you to work up until you can consistently run for 30 minutes.  When you reach this goal, then focus on intensity or speed, if you would like.

Injury Prevention

Injury prevention is another big key here.  You can’t run if you are injured beyond what your body can tolerate.  Things that may help this would be

  • Gradually increase your mileage/speed as above
  • Proper shoes (most running stores should be able to assess your feet and tell recommend shoes specifically for you)
  • Nutrition (I am a big advocate for adding 2000 IU of Vitamin D to your everyday routine as this can improve bone health).  

In the end, try to prevent overtraining – More than 40 miles per week or 12 hours per week of intense activity has been shown to increase injury risk by upwards of 100%.  As well, setting yourself up for something called overtraining syndrome is a possibility. This is where your body becomes too fatigued to perform at the level that you would like to push it.  If you are training for a longer distance race including half marathons and above, keep this in mind. Your injury risk greatly increases with this.

Contributed by Bryan Hess, DO, Sports Medicine Doctor at OSS Health

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