Spring has sprung and the nice weather has arrived. What better way to enjoy it than to set a goal for the upcoming months and embrace the longer, warmer days? With some easy, no-pressure planning you too could sign up and complete your first 5K race. An added bonus are all the health benefits that come along with some minimal cost exercise. First things first, some may be wondering “How far is a 5K?” A 5K is 3.1 miles and is an extremely common race distance that is offered in many local areas. Too often people are quickly discouraged by running because they start too fast and push their bodies too hard. No sooner than you start do you want to quit because you resent the activity. The key to success is following a program that slowly transitions you to traversing the distance without injury.
There is a plethora of Couch to 5K programs available. Apps can even be downloaded to your smartphone! The key component to look for when starting the process is a plan that advises you on a walk/jog interchange which slowly and gradually increases your jog time intervals over the span of about 8-9 weeks. Another magic piece of advice to remember is pick a pace, the speed at which you are jogging, that you feel you could sustain for an hour, even if you are only maintaining it for a minute. Finding this speed allows you to build the base you will need to improve your overall endurance. Another key note when attempting any new exercise is to stretch at the completion of the activity. Stretching appropriately helps prevent injury and overall discomfort that could deter you from continuing. Basic stretches to include are those that target the hamstrings and quadriceps, those are the large muscles of the front and back of the thigh; the calf muscles, located in the back of our lower legs, and the gluteal/hip area. If you’re contemplating starting a program, have already begun, or battling an injury related to running, and could use some guidance then consider connecting with your local physical therapist. A brief consult or specific intervention could help you on your path to attaining that goal and crossing the finish line.