25 August 11 5K Runs for Fun and Fitness

You may not see yourself as a runner, but with the proper training and a commitment to giving it your best shot, nearly anyone can participate in a 5K run (3.1 miles for the non-metrically minded). 5Ks are a perfect length for anyone who wants a challenge but may not have the time or skills to devote to an every-day training program that marathons and half-marathons require. 5K races are frequently organized by a local charity and considered "fun runs," and they certainly are that. With a little bit of summer left, it's likely you can still find a "fun run" scheduled near you. If you want to check, visit Active.com or look through your local Events Calendar.

If you've never run a 5K before (or just have never run, period), expect to devote eight weeks to a training program so you don't risk injury in your first race. If you are an experienced 5K-er, maybe you want to strive for your best time. Whatever the case, train smart and run for fun.

There are lots of programs online (both free and paid) that will get you up off the couch and running in 4-8 weeks. To ease into it, you may want to work up to being able to run a mile in the first week, or complete a Run/Walk training program. And as with any good training program, your rest days are as important as your workout days. Here's a sample guideline for what you can expect when training for a 5K.

You'll want to run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (which is the most common race day). On Wednesdays you should do some type of cross-training exercise (bike, swim, elliptical) for 30-40 minutes at a moderate pace. Oddly, you shouldn't train for a running race just by running. Sundays are considered an active recovery day, so you can do a light run or another cross-training exercise - but above all take it easy on this day.

Mondays and Fridays are your full rest days. You need them, so don't skip them. They not only prevent injury, but they also keep you from getting burned out. If you do need some flexibility, you can swap a rest day with a run day.

Most 5K training programs use a mix of running and walking. For example, in the first week you run for 15 seconds and walk for 45 seconds, and keep doing this for 30 minutes or until you reach your planned distance. Gradually you begin running more and walking less.

As you progress in your training, you'll want to increase your distance by about a 1/4 mile each week after the first week until you can run a full 5K without walking.

For more information on running, you can check out any number of books on the subject, but one forthcoming one is written by former Olympian, Jeff Galloway, and called Galloway's 5K and 10K Running Have questions or comments about this post? Please feel free to comment on MyNetDiary's Community Forum or Facebook page – We would love to hear from you. And consider visiting our new Pinterest page!

Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Exercise/Running

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