I did my very first 5K last summer. For me, this was a triumphant experience because I suffer from chronic pain that sometimes leaves me crawling on the floor. I even have assistive devices for days like this including a walker, a cane and even a wheelchair that I decorated in duct tape (because a girl has to ride in style!). Getting through an entire 5K and crossing the finish line was my goal. I didn’t care about my timing, just getting there and not giving up. I went on to do 2 more 5Ks last summer and each one brought me a great sense of accomplishment.
In doing my first 5K, I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect or what to bring or even how to prepare myself. If you are doing a 5K for the first time this year, here is what you need to know about your first 5K based on my experiences.
What You Need to Know About Your First 5K
You must train. A 5K is easy for a seasoned athlete, but it can be grueling for someone who is not. This doesn’t mean you need to train like a seasoned athlete, but at least 2 months before the big day, use a treadmill or take walks/jogs that get you at least most of the way there. I started with just being able to do a mile for 2 weeks. Then I moved onto a mile and a half. After that, 2 miles. This builds your stamina. Before you know it, you will be doing 3 miles with ease.
Stay hydrated for days before. Give yourself an extra boost of water and stay hydrated very well in the days leading up to the race. Also, drink lots of water the night before and an hour or two before the event. Be sure to bring water as well.
Eat a healthy meal beforehand, but not a heavy one. Many first timers make the mistake of thinking they need to eat something full of extra carbs the morning of the event. This is not true for most people as most people’s bodies can handle a light carb meal for this size of an event. A heavy meal will only make you feel bloated and miserable.
Wear something comfortable and prepare for the infamous “chub rub”. I didn't prepare for chafing on my inner thighs and between my breasts for my first 5K and I was miserable for days after as well as at the end of the race. Prevention is the key. Wear good fitting clothing that wicks away moisture as well as use something made to prevent chafing sold in many sports gear stores. Also, I highly recommend a headband that wicks away sweat. There’s nothing more annoying than sweat in your eyes when you are trying to push yourself.
Don’t push yourself too hard at first. It’s easy to get excited and want to run at the beginning of a race, but if you do, you will be too low on energy at the end. It is better to pace yourself so you have the energy to finish as well as run across the finish line!
Check out the track or route before agreeing to sign up. Many 5Ks have websites that lay out the route and incline beforehand so you know what to expect. This is a good way to see how you need to train as well as gauge if this is the right race for you.
Don’t feel like you need to run the whole thing. Most 5Ks are not a competition. They are simply for fun or for charity. Just finishing should be your goal so don’t feel the need to do too much.
Do it with a friend. A friend can be a great way to keep yourself motivated. You have someone to help you push through when it gets hard and someone who can train with you and keep you positive.
Bring along music if you are doing it alone. If you do go to the event alone, I suggest an iPod or your phone with music and headphones to keep yourself motivated. Not only will the music pump you up, it can help distract you when pain or fatigue sets in and you want to quit.
Register far in advance. Most 5Ks have way lower prices the earlier you register. Signing up months in advance (6 months, even!) can often offer you 50% off of the race day price.
Give yourself positive self talk throughout. If you feel like quitting, it’s easy to start telling yourself you can’t do it and this will sap your momentum. Instead, with each mile or half mile marker you go past, tell yourself that you are doing it and you are going to finish.
Post your progress on social media. I posted my progress on social media places like Instagram and Facebook as I passed each mile marker. This was a huge way for me to garner support along the way! My friends and family gave me a boost that helped me push through by commenting or liking my progress. I couldn’t wait to show them pictures of my crossing the finish line!
Written By Christine Tolhurst from Saved By Grace Blog
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