Marathon Training

Prepare For 5K From The First Week

No matter your fitness level, you can learn how to prepare for a 5k race (3.1 miles). You may be coming back from a running layoff, or you’re a new runner with a fitness goal. Maybe you just want to organize your training a bit better and hit a PR. Regardless of your motivation, you can do this! 

We’ll show you how to train for a 5k starting with the most important piece of gear all the way to some considerations on race day. We’ll explain how to avoid injuries, integrate mobility work, and set yourself up for successful recovery. Your first week of training will be fully explained in this article so you can hit the ground running. 

Now, let’s dive into some of those essential components of how to train for a 5k. Lace up your running shoes and here we go!

1. Always Warm Up Before You Run

Prioritize giving yourself enough time to complete a warm-up before every workout.  This gives you a leg up on injury prevention and benefits your recovery. By performing a warm-up, you heat up your core temperature and prepare your joints and muscles for movement. You can also use a warm up to grease the groove of good running mechanics. For example, performing a few burpees will wake up your hip flexors and core, two areas that are responsible for a lot of your movement while running. 

The focus of your training isn’t just the workout, but also how you prepare for it.

This routine should be a priority for you on race day, so spend some time working through it during your training schedule so you’re familiar with it on the big day.

2. Perform Form Drills To Become A More Efficient Runner

Running with an inefficient form is like cooking without the right ingredients. 

Spend some time evaluating and fine-tuning your running form and mechanics. This helps reduce the risk of injury, run faster, and helps you move more efficiently as a runner. Think of it like running-specific cross-training. 

To start, ask yourself these questions:

Are my feet underneath my hips? Does my torso rotate? Is my spine straight or rounded?

Each of the drills we’re about to explain will tackle some elements of those questions.

  • Heel-toe rocking: Learn to keep your hips forward while running. 
  • Hopping drill: Stay light on your feet. 
  • High Knees: Practice a quick cadence with fast feet. 
  • Butt Kick: Engage your glutes and hamstrings 
  • Inseam Pull: Combine the previous two drills to practice an optimal stride
  • Stable arm drill: Prevent excessive rotation while running
  • Carioca: Move your spine through a great range of motion

You can build these drills into your dynamic warm up or sprinkle them throughout your next run.

3. Add Cadence Drills To Your Training Plan

Cadence refers to the number of times your feet hit the ground in a minute. Increasing your cadence means that you decrease the amount of time your feet are on the ground with each step. This helps reduce the impact of running on your body as well as encourages an efficient stride. Additionally, it helps maintain your running form as you keep your feet closer to under your body and avoid landing with your foot too far in front of you. 

There are several free metronome apps available on your smartphone. Find one that works for you and let’s get running.

To find your baseline cadence, run in place and count the number of steps you take in one minute.

Got your number? Great! Set your metronome to that number (ex: baseline= 175; set the metronome to 175 beats per minute). You will be repeating short run intervals, which can be done on a track for 600m (1.5 laps), or on the road for about 30 seconds.

Start your workout:

  • 1st Interval = Baseline (test result)
  • 2nd Interval = Increase by 5 steps per minute (1st was 175, 2nd = 180 BPM)
  • 3rd Interval = Increase again by 3 steps per minute (175, 180, 183 BPM)

4. Make Sure To Cool Down After A Run

Resist the urge to jump in the shower or car as soon as you’re done running. Start your cool down by walking to first get your heart rate down.

  • Enjoy that cool down walk to start. Try untying your shoes so your feet can breathe. 
  • Hip circles work your hip flexors and prevent tightness. Flowing to a hamstring stretch will loosen up the back of your leg. 
  • Your ankles will get a good stretch by working your knee ahead of your foot, or by using the classic downward dog yoga position. 
  • Use a staggered squat to deeply flex your toes and stretch the fascia in the bottom of your foot. 

5. Mobilize Your Muscles And Tissues

Post cool down is the perfect time to work in some mobility and tissue massage. Your joints and muscles can get stiff with the repetitive movements and the stress of a workout. By using either a foam roller, a ball, and/or a PVC pipe, you can restore full range of motion to your tissues and avoid excessive soreness. All in all, this is a great way to set yourself up for your next workout!

  • To massage your lower leg muscles, grab a PVC pipe, a broomstick, or a roller such as a Tiger Tail. Roll out your calves down to your ankles just like you would with dough and a rolling pin.
  • Using a golf ball and/or lacrosse ball, sandwich the tissues surrounding your shins to release tightness that can build up over a run.
  • Increase the range of motion in your ankle by sitting back in a kneeling position and pulling up on the knee while pressing your ankle into the ground.

Feel free to use these mobilizations on rest days, too! 

Original Post The Run Experience

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