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How to Prepare for a 5K

Running a 5K is a rewarding experience, especially if you've just started running. To prepare for this 3.1-mile race, you should set up and follow a training schedule. Not only does this schedule ensure you'll be able to complete the race, you'll also improve your time, stay on track with training and have a great running experience.

Set up a training schedule. To make this race a priority, set up a timetable for your runs. Create a calendar that outlines your running schedule, or use an online program that has a pre-planned program. This schedule guides your workouts and ensures that you stay on track. The best way to prepare for a 5K is to vary your workouts. One simplified program involves exercising three days a week. The first day is a high-intensity, fast-paced short run, the second day is a moderate, longer distance, and the third day is a slow pace for the longest period. Varying the intensity of the workouts improves endurance and time.

Schedule rest days. Incorporate easy workouts between intense ones to avoid overtraining and muscle fatigue. Continuously working out increases your risk of injury, so schedule rest days on which you don't run at all. Use these days to focus on weight training and flexibility. A well-balanced 5K training program involves a variety of exercises outside of running to build muscle tone and endurance.

Follow a well-balanced diet. Nutrition is a key element of a training program, and your diet should consist of 60 to 70 percent complex carbohydrates while in training. Drink plenty of water to maintain hydration before and after workouts and avoid caffeine, which can dehydrate your body. Also, the night before the morning race, plan your evening meal around 7 p.m. This eating plan ensures that you have enough fuel to get through the race without cramping or muscle fatigue.

Tip

Register well in advance, about six to 12 weeks to allow yourself enough time for training.

Set a goal for your running time.

Listen to your body and adjust your workout schedule if feeling overworked or tired.

Warning

Speak to your physician before starting a training program. Your health care provider can ensure that you're in the right shape to begin a running program.

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About the Author

Meredith C. has worked as a nutrition educator, chef and community health projects since 2011. She received a Bachelor of Science in nutrition from the University of Tennessee and is currently completing an MS/DI program in nutrition.

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