On Your Mark, Get Set, Go. How to Train for a 5K Road Race

By Jessica Aframe
The first time I ran a 5K race was the year after my son was born.  I never considered myself a runner. In fact, I honestly found it to be boring and really hard.  The first year of motherhood had been challenging and I thought completing a 5K race would be something positive I could do for myself emotionally and physically. I trained for three months to prepare for the race. During my training, I actually came to enjoy running. It was a good way to de-stress and I was starting to feel physically stronger.  I was ready to go on race day.  I’ll admit the run was not easy but when I crossed the finish line, it was a proud moment. It’s been a few years (and another baby) and I’m ready to take on the challenge again. I just started training and can’t wait to cross that finish line. During springtime, there are road races scheduled virtually every weekend. Whether you are running a 5K, 10K, half-marathon or marathon there are many races to choose from. Visit http://runningintheusa.com for a listing of races by state. March and April are the perfect months to start training for a spring road race. Here are a few tips on how to get started from Kerry Swift, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer at the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut.

Find a Good Training Plan If you are a novice, it takes about 8 weeks to properly train for a 5K race.  The best training programs include a progressive mix of walking and jogging.  The YMCA offers a spring training group program that will culminate in the running of the Memorial Day 5K Road Race in downtown Danbury.  The training program is geared toward beginners but welcomes experienced runners who can support and train alongside those who are just starting out. Please contact Kerry Swift at the YMCA if you are interested in participating in the program. She can be reached by phone at 203-775-8631 ext. 123 or by email at kswift@regionalymca.org.

Run, Baby Run The most important thing to do is run! Doing cardio and other exercise will not prepare you for a road race. It’s ideal to run six times per week (a minimum of three) to properly train. Start slow; walk/jog, but make sure you’ve run the entire distance of the race you’re participating in before race day so you can be comfortable and confident that you can finish.

Run Outside It’s recommended to do most of your training outside. It is fine run on the treadmill or on the indoor track at the YMCA on days when the weather is really bad, but it should not be used as the sole training method for a road race. It’s important to get used to running outdoors where the elements can vary as well as the terrain.  

Mix it Up It’s a good idea to mix in weight training to help build stamina and muscle, especially in the upper body and core areas. It’s also a good idea to register early. Most races have an entry fee of $15-$50.  There are often significant discounts if you register early. Even more important, you are making the commitment to yourself!

So, who’s ready to start running?


For Youth Development, Healthy Living, Social Responsibility Brookfield, CT regionalymca.org

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