Did you enjoy your Labor Day Weekend? I hope so! For a lot of people, Labor Day marks the “end of summer” (even though Fall doesn’t officially start until September 22nd!). Fall is my favorite season for running, because the cooler temperatures make it feel so much easier and more enjoyable than summer running (I can’t wait! We hit 105 degrees on Sunday in Dallas). So today, I want to encourage you to run a 5K this Fall.
- Not a runner (yet)? It’s OK, I promise you can work up to completing a 5K this Fall!
- Consider yourself a treadmill warrior, and rarely head outside? This is the perfect opportunity!
- Already a bona fide runner? Consider this a challenge to amp up your goal to a longer distance, or aim to beat your old 5K PR this Fall.
Here are 7 tips to make this Fall YOUR season for a 5K (or longer race)…(picture source … and note that your elbows should not be flailing out like that, oops!)
- Just sign up already! There is NO better way to get yourself off the couch and get your training started than by registering for a race. Seeing the date on the calendar, telling your friends about the race, and knowing that you’ve already shelled out some cash for a race will surely get you motivated. Without a date on the calendar, it’s too easy to put off running until “tomorrow” (whenever that is). When I’m looking for new races, I usually check Runner’s World Race Finder, which lets you enter your zip code, race distance, and time frame, or Active.com, which is a little tougher to navigate but generally has a more expansive database. Others that I’ve checked are Running in the USA and Cool Running. (picture source)
- Start slowly. There is NO shame in walking, or walk/ running your first 5K, and if you’ve never been to a race, you may be amazed by how many walkers most races attract. Depending on your fitness level, walking a 5K may be enough of a challenge to start with. If you’re a little more advanced, try walking for 1 minute and running for 1 minute (alternating the entire duration of your run). (picture source)
- Build your distance slowly. If you haven’t run regularly before, you’ll want to be especially careful with building your distance up steadily. As a general rule, you don’t want to increase the distance or time of your longest run by more than 10% each run, and you don’t want to increase your weekly total distance or time by more than 10% each week. If you’re completely new, I would highly recommend following a plan that is right for your fitness level and lifestyle. I offer customized training programs and running coaching (see more information here), which are best to accommodate your various needs. However, many people also successfully follow the “Couch to 5K” training program, which is great – just fit it to your needs. (picture source)
- Sign up with a friend. Enlisting a friend to come along on your runs is a great way to hold yourself accountable and keep things light-hearted. Ask around – you may be surprised to find that several people close to you are eyeing a 5K as well!
- Take care of your body. I recommend stretching lightly after every run, and staying tuned in to how your body is feeling during and after each run. There’s a big difference between pushing through a little soreness or tiredness and pushing through real pain or injury … and only YOU know that difference for YOUR body. As much as I’m encouraging you to work towards a specific date on the calendar, it is NOT worth it if that means injury. Be smart! (picture source)
- Hydrate and fuel your body right. I am always an advocate of loading up on the water and eating foods that are good for your body, but when you start running, it’s even more important! You’ll notice a big difference on your runs if you’ve eaten nourishing, healthy foods the day before. And now is the time to start hydrating! Your body needs the extra water!
- Enjoy each run, and celebrate each success. One thing I miss about being a beginning runner is the awesome sense of accomplishment I used to get when I achieved a new distance. In training for a 5K, you’ll have to build up your mileage, so don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for each distance milestone you conquer. Similarly, don’t forget to enjoy it while you’re out running! We all have days when running feels like a chore, but it’s those great runs in between that make it all worth it. If you haven’t gotten there yet, keep going! You’ll notice from my story that it took me about a year before I truly began to love running. Hang in there … it will happen eventually! (picture source)
Remember, while I have casually coached several people, I am NOT a doctor or trainer. Please contact a doctor before beginning a new training program.
So tell me in the comments … do you have any races planned for this Fall? What’s your favorite season to run?