Training & Tips

Training for your first 5k

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Today, I wanted to talk about training for your first 5k. In a lot of ways, my upcoming Heart Walk will feel like my first 5k, even though it isn’t. I just haven’t run one in just over four years.

However, this post was inspired by a close friend of mine. The Heart Walk will be her first 3.1-mile race and she’s been following a training plan devised by a running app. This plan told her to do a five-mile run the very first week! That’s just not safe for a beginning runner. With that in mind, I’ve decided to list some general rules to creating a 5k training plan that works for you.

  1. Choose two rest days that fit into your weekly schedule. Avoid having them back-to-back try one mid-week and one at the end (Monday & Friday; Tuesday and Saturday, etc.).
  2. Start slow. A beginner should not run more than 10-12 miles in the first week. Also, you might want to do less or incorporate walking depending on your activity and fitness level prior to this first week.
  3. Increase mileage gradually.
  4. Incorporate cross-training. Running should be replaced by a low impact exercise on one of your five active days. Cross train 1-3 times per week to strengthen other muscle groups/increase flexibility. You can cross train on days you run- take a yoga class or work on upper body strength.
  5. STRETCH daily. Incorporate dynamic stretching before and static after.
  6. Incorporate one long-distance run, one speed workout , and one easy run each week.
  7. Listen to your body! If you need an extra day off, take it.

Lastly, have fun. Run with friends for extra motivation or create a fun playlist. Then enjoy your first race and do your best!

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How To Safely Increase Mileage

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Happy Monday! This weekend was MUCH better than last weekend in terms of weather, don’t you think? In fact, the sunshine might encourage you to run longer and increase your mileage. Have you considered how to do this safely? Increasing your mileage too suddenly can lead to painful injuries, like shin splints. And no one wants shin splints!

There are two common methods used by runners to safely increase mileage. The first is the 10% rule. The second is known as the equilibrium method. Neither method is right or wrong; it depends on your own personal preference and what works best for your body.

The 10% Rule

This rule recommends increasing your weekly total mileage by 10%. It’s up to you where you incorporate the extra distance. You can opt to make one run longer to give your routine some variety. Or, if you prefer to run the same distance each time, you can distribute it evenly per run.

Let’s say you run 20 miles per week. Your 10% increase over 8 weeks would look something like this, depending on how you choose to round the numbers. I rounded to the nearest half:

  • 20, 22, 24, 26.5, 29, 32, 35, 38.5

The Equilibrium Method

The equilibrium method involves a 20-30% increase in one week and then remaining at that mileage for a few weeks before the next increase. Starting at 20 miles per week over 8 weeks, at a 25% increase this method will look like this:

  • 20, 25, 25, 25, 31, 31, 31, 39

As you can see, both methods bring you to a very similar total mileage by week 8. Each just takes a different path. Some of you might choose to forgo both methods and base your increase solely on how you feel. However, I would not recommend that for new or injury-prone runners. Has anyone used one of these methods before? Share your thoughts/experiences below!

The Right Shoe, and the Left

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When you make the decision to start running, one of the most important steps is choosing the right sneakers to train in. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a sneaker because it’s popular or because your friend swears by it. They are not one size fits all. Running in sneakers that don’t meet your needs can make you more prone to injuries, like shin splints. Ouch!

There are many things you should consider before purchasing running shoes, including:

  • Body frame and weight
  • Terrain
    • Road, trail, or both
  • Arch height
    • If you are unsure of your arch height, wet your feet and step on a newspaper.
  • Pronation-
    • Over- feet roll inward excessively
    • Under- feet roll outward
    • Straight- roll inward slightly
  • Injuries
    • Plantar Fasciitis, bunions, etc.

You might be feeling overwhelmed by all of the factors. To help, there are a number of websites that provide shoe finder quizzes. I have used the shoe finders on both Road Runner Sports and Runner’s World. After taking the quizzes, your results will tell you what type of shoe fits your needs. Types include neutral, stability and motion control, which can further be broken down into performance sneakers. If you prefer more guidance, you can visit your local running store- many stores have someone who can watch you run and provide a few sneaker options that would suit you.

Hope this helps!

Training Tips

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Doing the same type of run everyday can become pretty mundane and could kill your already low motivation. You might find that after a while you aren’t getting any faster. Work some of these into your routine to keep your training fresh, and increase your speed and endurance!

Long-distance Run (LDR)- Naturally, when training for a race the LDR is a staple in your training routine. The actual distance of you LDR will probably vary depending on the length of your race. It is also likely increase gradually as your race nears. But it should be longer than your usual runs. Do this once a week. 

Tempo Run– The tempo run was one of my favorite practices in high school. Basically, you run on increments with two different speeds. The longer increment is at a comfortable/moderate pace. The shorter one is a sprint. My coach used to have us run our usual pace for five minutes and then sprint for one minute.  

Hills– Most races don’t have a completely flat route. There’s no fun in that. 😛 Hills are always going to challenge you, but you don’t need to feel like you’re going to pass out every time you finish one. I suggest incorporating hill repeats into your runs. Build your route around a pretty tough hill and place the hill in the middle. Run to it as your warm up, do 5-8 hill repeats (run up, jog down), and then jog back to your start to cool down.

Speed Workout– Take it to the track! Logging miles is important, but that will only help your speed so much. Try to do this once a week and mix it up. One week do 200m repeats. Try 400m repeats the next. Tempo runs can also count as your speed workout. I would just suggest lowering the time on the slower increment and jogging slowly in between sprints. 

Mix It Up!

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As you know, I’ve been some foot pain recently and it has been keeping me from running as much as I want to. Over the last week I’ve only ran one mile. I don’t know when my foot will feel better, but I know I have to do something in the meantime. So, I thought this would be a good time to talk about cross training.

Cross training means incorporating other types of workouts into your routine. For runners, cross training could be a means to strengthen the upper half of their bodies. Or it could be a way to avoid injuries. Cross training could even help improve speed and endurance.

Here are my suggestions:

Cycling: Cycling can help increase speed while giving your legs good workout. It’s not a weight bearing exercise, making it ideal for runners. Road cycling allows to you incorporate speed work, distance, and hills.

Yoga: I firmly believe that all athletes (and probably all people) should try yoga. However, runners in particular put a lot of strain on their bodies due to the high impact nature of running. Yoga is known for increases flexibility and range of motion. Yoga also increases blood circulation, which can help with recovery.

Weight/resistance training: Strong muscles help protect your bones. The right workout can help strengthen your entire body. Definitely my least favorite option, but that’s just me.

Swimming: Gives you a total body workout while giving your bones and joints a break. Swimming also does wonders for your endurance! It’s what I’ve been doing since my foot has been bothering me.