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Training for Your First 5K

When you make the decision to challenge your body and run your first 5K race, ideally you already run at least three to four times per week and have no trouble running one to two miles without resting. The best programs for this type of runner are geared towards preparing you gradually and are typically scheduled to require approximately nine to twelve weeks. If you are an absolute beginner with no experience but still exercise regularly, allow yourself at least six months to adequately prepare for the 3.1-mile race by first getting accustomed to running and then moving on to training. Newcomers to exercise and running should allocate six to nine months to ensure enough time to become aerobically fit and conduct an appropriate training schedule. You should never simply sign up for any kind of competitive race if you aren't in good shape. Trying to run a race without any kind of preparation will lead to breathlessness, frustration, and incredibly sore muscles the next day.

For those of you who fit the bill for beginning training for your first 5K race, here's the deal: good programs are made up of easy runs for endurance, speed runs to increase agility and pace and hilly workouts to build lower body strength. Rest days are scheduled in as needed. Most schedules should be fairly flexible, allowing you to exchange workouts for days when you feel you need a break. Allowing your body plenty of rest is vital to a successful training program because if you wear your body out, you will be unable to participate. Equally important is keeping tabs on how your body feels - do you feel any pain as you run? If you ever feel anything beyond normal muscle fatigue or have recurring pains in your feet or legs, stop your program and get checked out by a medical professional. You won't do yourself any favors by running through pain and doing so may lead to serious damage - instead, get it checked out and treated and you'll be back in peak condition sooner rather than later.

In addition to a regular running schedule, good preparation programs also include weight-training to help build up your muscles. Running for 3.1 miles requires a lot from more muscles than you might think and it's important to be as strong as possible. When your muscles are better developed they can better support your body and increase your stamina. Since the body is essentially held up and together by the intricate muscular network, the stronger that network is, the better! Look for a weight-training plan that focuses on legs and core to build the best support.

Many people are curious about the proper diet for the training program. Most trainers do not recommend any specific regimen for race training other than to maintain a healthy diet including essential components like protein, vegetables, and, yes, even fat. Fat is a necessary part of every diet in order to maintain a healthy body but make sure you eat the right kind of fat. Saturated fats like those found in junk food are not the right kind and can seriously detract from your health. The best diet for everyone is well balanced with foods from all major groups but a focus on vegetables and protein as well as low fat and low-sodium. To make sure your diet has enough of the proper vitamins and nutrients, try using some of the free diet assessment tools available on the Internet. Many websites offer these useful calculators as part of an overall program to track your progress, and that can be helpful for the runner who needs to monitor more than more area of his preparation.

While running will be the major part of your plan, you should consider some other tools that can assist you in reaching your goal. Keeping an accurate record of your workout schedule as well as your diet can help you pinpoint areas that need work as well as areas that have improved. Tools to consider include training logs, which can be found at most major sports stores and tracking applications for your PDA. Your PDA manufacturer probably offers a program for purchase on the company website or you can visit an online retailer of PDA applications to find the one that best fits your needs.

Training for and completing a 5K run can be an exhilarating and fulfilling experience. Allow yourself plenty of time so you can prepare in the best fashion possible - when you cross that finish line, you'll feel like a million buck

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