Exceed Your Limits!

One Step and One Day at a Time!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The 5K Run: A Universal Motivator!

I now call a 5K run a universal motivator.  Why?  Well, it is simple - it is a motivator for so many people from varied backgrounds and at varied training levels, and, in my experience, one never regrets whatever 5K event they particpate in.  Here is why I reached this conclusion:

1.  Anyone can do this event.  Seriously, 5Ks are generally low key, stroller and pet friendly, and a lot of people WALK.  Now, you need to check all this out when you see an event you are interested in and if it doesn't fit for you, I am willing to bet you can find another 5K event that same day in your area that is a fit for you!  Walk, run, or walk/run and you are moving - every step counts and it is a great start to becoming more active or even, gulp, a runner!

2.  If you want to train to run a 5K there are lots of FREE options!  First, if you have tennis shoes in a reasonably good condition, some pants you can move in, and a road/field/sidewalk/whatever you can train for a 5K.  I know people who train for 5K's at the mall, in their neighborhood, at a lakeside trail, or strictly on a treadmill where NO ONE can see them!  You can also search for training plans that take you from the couch to a 5K in small baby steps.  Google "Couch to 5K" and you will find hundreds of free plans.  One free plan I found and like is this free plan at Beginnertriathlete.com.  Are you a tech junkie?  I know people doing a Couch to 5K training program (C25K) on their iphones and ipods, and probably a million other tech gadgets I don't own.  Googling "C25K podcast" or "C25K android" produced results, but I can't speak as to their value.  As I understand it the program will run while you listen to music and will tell you when to run and when to walk over a specified period of time taking you through workouts that incorporate longer and longer bursts of running over a series of weeks until you are running the whole thing (or almost the whole thing).  I wish I had an iphone or ipod!  And then I wish I had the time to learn how to use it!

3.  5K events are often and cheap!  Registering for a 5K is really inexpensive compared to other events.  Many events are twenty dollars or less, or are available by fundraising for a particular charity.  And, 5K events, at least in my area, are available (in multiples) EVERY weekend!  If you need help finding an event, you can just search on 5K and your town, or look on sites that are used for registering for such events like Active.com.  You can also look in your local paper, browse the bulletin board at your local sports equipment stores, or just ask someone at your gym.  Many running oriented sports retailers have free fun runs on the weekends as well.  One such store in my neighborhood is Roadrunner Sports

4.  Even if you are training for or running longer events or multisport events, a 5K event mixes up training and adds race day elements to your training.  By adding a 5K event into your training, you can find race day motivation to push harder and just have FUN, which can be sometimes hard to do as you push toward increased endurance levels.  Furthermore, during rest weeks or taper weeks in your training they can add some spice when you are frustrated by having to hold yourself back.  I was talking last night with an individual who was on a taper week in preparation for this weekend's Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene.  He was antsy to race and antsy about his taper week of training, but grinned as he said he PR'd his 5K this week.  Even at his level of training a 5K was a fun and motivational element in his taper week.  Furthermore, if you are struggling to reach a new pace level, like I am, running with others in a 5K race can allow you to mentally mark that higher pace for yourself so you can implement that pace in your training. 

So, if you are looking to begin a more active lifestyle, but just need that one thing to help you take that first step, whether it be walking or running, I challenge you to look into a 5K event!  Or, step back from your focus on longer events and spice up your training with a 5K event and you may add a new PR of your own!  And, if you are so inclined, tell me about it here and keep me posted on how it all works out! 

ALSO, if you are using a C25K app, as I know a few of my readers are, and can offer your review of the app, please share your views and recommendations in a comment or via email so I can share them on the blog!

And just a reminder, tomorrow I will fill everyone in on how my search for my perfect running shoe transpired and whether I fell off the treadmill at the store!

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