A beginning runner who wants to one day become a successful 5K runner just needs one thing: a game plan. Even if you don’t regularly jog, much less run, it’s doable to increase your stamina to the point where running a 5K at your target time is an achievable goal. The first step is to get permission from your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough to start your journey to successful running. Then, use this guide for tips on training and using helpful tech to propel your way forward.
Start at the Gym
Once your doctor has given you the green light, the next step is to head to a local gym. If you don’t already have a membership, now is a good time to join. A study by Iowa State University scientists found that people with a gym membership are 10 times more likely to get an adequate amount of physical activity than those without a gym membership.
At the gym, the best place for beginners to start is on the recumbent bike. On the first day, select a low resistance level and bike for five or 10 minutes. Each time you go to the gym, increase either the resistance level or the duration you stay on the bike — or both. By doing bike work, you can strengthen your leg muscles while you build your cardio endurance.
When you’re ready for your next challenge, head to the treadmill. This is where you will begin to simulate running. Like you did on the recumbent bike, start slowly. Set the treadmill at a slow speed and stay on for five to 10 minutes. Even if you can only walk on the treadmill at first, that’s completely fine. As you slowly increase the speed and your time, you will go from walking to jogging to running.
While you are at the gym, there are other exercises you can do to help you improve as a runner. Swimming can improve your cardio endurance while minimizing the impact on your joints. Yoga, if offered at your gym, can build core strength and make you more flexible — two traits that help runners. Even lifting weights can make you faster and help you avoid injuries.
Use Helpful Technology
Technology is your best friend as an aspiring 5K runner. A fitness tracker like the Fitbit Charge 3 tracks your steps, monitors your heart rate, counts the number of calories you have burned, analyzes your sleep patterns, and much more.
If you want the top-of-the-line technology on your side, consider investing in a smartwatch. The Apple Watch Series 4 has a heart sensor and built-in altimeter. Best of all, it has safety features like fall detection, electrocardiogram (ECG) generation, and even emergency SOS.
Hit the Track
Once you’re able to run on a treadmill for 20 to 25 minutes, that’s when you want to begin doing the real thing. Preferably, as a beginner, you should look for a synthetic track. The surface of a synthetic track is springy, which makes it easier on your knees and ankles.
Like you did with the bike and the treadmill, start slowly on the track. It’s okay to walk at first, but always time your laps around the track. As you progress on a day-to-day basis, you want to be able to not only improve your lap time but also the number of laps you can run without tiring. On a standard track, a 5K race is 12.5 laps, so keep that number in mind as you’re training.
By taking a step-by-step approach, you can begin at a recumbent bike and end up at a 5K race. It’s not an overnight journey, but with enough determination, patience, and willpower, you can achieve your running goals. All it takes is a game plan.
Photo via Pixabay
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