by | Sep 4, 2013 | 13 comments

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)…tips to run a 5K(picture source … and note that your elbows should not be flailing out like that, oops!)

  1. 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, 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. right time is now - post 9.4.13(picture source)
  2. 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). don't have to go fast - blog 7.11.13 and fb 7.10.13(picture source)
  3. 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. c25K(picture source)
  4. 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!
  5. 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! take care of your body - blog 9.4.13(picture source)
  6. 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!
  7. 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! celebrate success - blog 9.4.13(picture source)

Now go out there and be amazing!!! And please report back with your successes – I love to hear your stories!   go be amazing - fb 8.25.13

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?


  1. Holly

    We just today signed up for the san diego bootcamp challenge at the end of september! looks like we need to get moving a little more frequently now! thanks for the encouragement.

    oh, and lets not forget the turkey trot right? 🙂

    • Megan Lyons

      Ooh, that sounds fun, Hol! What does the Bootcamp Challenge involve? And YES, let’s not forget about the Turkey Trot … although Kevin’s “great idea” of running 7 miles there, running the 10K race, then running back home (which I think we backed out on 2 years ago) might not work … we’ll see!!!

  2. Heather @ Better With Veggies

    This is a great post, I love your tips! Fall is my favorite season for running too – although it’s also the season I’ve been injured the most throughout the years. 🙂

    • Megan Lyons

      Thank you, Heather! Argh, injuries are such a bummer! Do you think it’s from building up too quickly as you transition to more running from summer? That’s always something I think about. Fingers crossed for no injuries for both of us this year :).

      • Heather @ Better With Veggies

        At times that was definitely the case, but I’ve also injured myself tripping around a corner. 🙂 I haven’t been injured in a few years luckily, it helps when you really start to the learn what you body responds to. But I can still be very clumsy! 🙂

  3. Gary

    Meg: At my age and many (50) yrs of running, my goal now is just to get out for a few miles each day and survive to do it again the next day! I hope your suggestions and encouragement will lead some otherwise non-runners to discover the mental and physical benefits from running on a regular basis. You can assure everyone who will listen that what they take from this sport will, over time, greatly exceed what they give.

    • Megan Lyons

      I completely agree that running will give you back more than you give! And I truly hope that after 50 years of running I will still be as active as you are … I believe I will! You’re a great role model :).

  4. Robert

    I’m signed up for Run With Heart 5k on Sept 14th, months before I thought I would be ready for any race.

    I’m excited to feel I can even attempt a race only 7 weeks into starting to run again. Hoping to just finish successfully. Worried about getting sucked out of the start line at too fast of a pace…

  5. Davida @ The Healthy Maven

    Hey Megan! I’m currently in the process of changing my running strike since heel striking seems to be causing me too many injuries. It’s challenging though to change from what feels comfortable to what feels the opposite of comfortable! Plus forefoot striking is incredibly hard on your calves and achilles tendon so my progress is slooooow to say the least. I went from running 10k no problem to barely being a being able to run a mile non-stop with my new foot strike. I’m thinking about singing up for a 5k to encourage me to practice more in my new stride and also as a goal I can work up to. I’m afraid of hurting myself again though but as my chiro likes to say, “you gotta poke the bear!”

    • Megan Lyons

      Oh no, Davida! That must be so frustrating to have to change away from what comes naturally – I’m lucky that while my stride isn’t perfect, it doesn’t cause injury, so I’ve never had to change it. I did deal with a similarly frustrating issue when I had a really weak/ fussy piriformis and dealt with lots of physical therapy, etc. But I did work my way back, and I know you will, too! The thought of “poking the bear” makes me nervous, but if your chiro is saying to do it, he knows best! Please be careful :).

  6. Amy @ The Little Honey Bee

    I am finally stretching more after I run! Yay! I had a rough short run this morning (it was dark and cold and I felt sooo slow) so not feeling awesome today but I hope to bounce back for my long run this weekend.

    • Megan Lyons

      Good job, Amy! It’ll pay off, I promise! I told you that you would have less-than-stellar runs, but that also makes you stronger and you WILL bounce back. Hang in there!


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Megan Lyons Headshot

Hi! I'm Megan Lyons,

the voice behind The Lyons’ Share. I love all things health, wellness, and fitness-related, and I hope to share some of my passion with you. Thanks for stopping by!
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