Fall is the perfect time to take your running to the next level – or test yourself by registering for your first 5k. The weather is cool and mild. Races are being run each and every weekend with a variety of distances, landscapes and themes.  Start small and register for a 5k (3.1 miles). The tips here will have you running races all year.

Once You’re Registered

You did it. The registration form for your first race is complete. Congratulations! You can make up your own game plan to train or you could try the popular Hal Higdon’s Couch to 5k which starts you off easy in two-minute interval runs and then slowly ramps you up to running the total 5k mileage before the race.  That gives you an extra boost of confidence knowing you can go the distance.  Twelve weeks is the best length of time if you are starting from zero.  Six weeks if you can run for fifteen minutes or more at a time.  Local running stores and running groups have lots of options for training schedules and running partners, so check them out.

Testing, Testing

If you have never run before, there is a simple way to test your endurance. Walk for three minutes and then run for 30 seconds to one minute. Do this for 25 minutes. After a few days shift that walking/running around and do three minutes of running with 30 seconds to one minute of walking.  Work up to running more than walking each time you train and keep it at an easy pace. Don’t worry about time your first race. Speed training can come later, like your second race.

Stay Strong

No matter which training plan you choose, you will suffer fatigue both emotional and mental.  There will be days in the middle and especially at the end as you work backwards on your time and distance that you don’t want to get in the training. Stay strong. Find a running partner or group to keep you motivated.  You can do it! The feeling when you finish the race it all worth it.

The Night Before

Make things easier on yourself by picking up your race packet the day before the event. Eat a healthy meal that is similar to what you eat before your training runs and stay hydrated all day. Remember to dress in clothing that is good for weather 15 degrees cooler. Lay out your race clothes, including your bib number, and make sure you have anything else you will need before the race. That includes your water bottle or pre-race snack. Set your alarm, get two nights of good sleep and remember to have fun on what will probably be the first of many races.

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