Being a new runner can be tough. You might be working towards your first 5K, but it can take a little while to find your stride and settle into your new schedule. And that makes it hard to find the motivation to get out there and run.
But once you do, the benefits are really noticeable. Along with your improved fitness level, you’ll feel a boost in confidence and an overall sense of wellbeing that’s worth sticking to your running routine for.
So whether you’re doing a Couch to 5K, following the ROAD iD 5K training plan, or just going it alone, we’ve spoken to four expert runners *slash* inspiring ladies to ask them for their running tips.
Caitlin Keen (@caitsouthkeen) - a marathon runner with a Flying Pig win under her belt. She knows a thing or two about reaching your running goals.
Jen Rulon (@coachjenrulon) - a running coach and triathlete. Follow her for some #goalgetter inspiration.
Debbie Woodruff (@coachdebbieruns) - a running coach and personal trainer known to share some mouth-watering vegan recipes.
Audrey Springer (@runningthealley) - a running coach spreading her love and passion with others. She’ll give you some serious running shoe envy too.
Here’s their top tips to make running your first 5K a little easier…
When you start your 5K training plan, you’re probably focusing on one thing – running. So it’s easy to forget that other exercises will help you improve.
Caitlin explains: ‘Your core is the centre of your body and is what holds you together. Whenever you get tired, it's not your legs that are the first to give out on you, it's your core. If you can build a strong centre of gravity, then you will see a world of improvement in your running.’
Strength training exercises are a great way to build your core. So try an aerobics class at the gym or hit the free weights section and you’ll find it easier to go the distance with your running.
Another important reason to take up other exercises alongside running is to help prevent injuries. When Jen works with a client who’s running their first 5K, she says ‘I like to see at least 3 sessions a week planned for running, along with two sessions a week of strength training or yoga.’
Those yoga sessions will help loosen up any tight muscles plus relieve soreness. It’s important to make sure nothing holds you back from your training programme – especially not aches and pains – so taking the time to look after your muscles should be a part of your plan.
Fuelling your body properly is essential for running beginners. Not to mention one of the best bits of training.
Debbie tells us that ‘new runners shouldn't have to make any changes in their diets, unless they have been filling up on mostly fast food before they started! Whole, nutritious food is just fine, focusing on mostly vegetable and fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats.’
At this stage in your running, you probably won’t need to fill up on loads of carbs – save that for your first marathon.
Make yourself a nutritious meal to tuck into when you get back from training and it’ll help you regain your energy without feeling lethargic.
OK maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves with the marathon talk. If you’re wondering how long it should take until you run your first 5K, Debbie explains:
‘Generally, most Couch to 5K programs are about 12 weeks long, though it is probably possible to do it in less time if a new runner has some kind of fitness background. Taking 12 weeks though will let you build up to actually running the entire 5K.’
While everyone is different and will get to 5K at their own pace, 12 weeks is a good goal to aim for. This’ll give you time to build up the distance and find a comfortable pace, plus fit in some yoga and strength exercise so you can run the whole 5K without stopping.
It’s easier to stick to your 5K running plan if it doesn’t interfere too much with your other commitments. And with so much to fit in, like exercise classes and nutrition, you need to find a routine to suit you.
‘Don’t be afraid to be flexible. Get up a little earlier, run at lunch, or maybe you have to switch your rest days around one week’ says Audrey.
‘The biggest advice I can give is to remember you are trying to prove something to yourself and achieve a goal. Don't forget to make yourself a priority!’
Speaking of making yourself a priority, there’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself each time you reach a mini goal. Even if it’s just getting out there on a chilly morning to go for a run.
Caitlin admits ‘I usually daydream about what kind and how much coffee I am going to drink when my run is over. On Sundays, it's a big old fashioned bacon and egg breakfast!’
Coffee. Bacon and eggs. A nap. Whatever your vice, use it to get through your run. We won’t judge.
Some days are harder than others though, and the thought of a reward might not always be enough to get you up and out, so you need to find something that will.
For Audrey, it’s the thought of reaching her goals.
‘There will inevitably come a day where you have to pull out all the tricks to get yourself out the door and on those days, I just throw my headphones in and remind myself that I've got goals to reach!’
Keep your reasons for running 5K in mind. Write it down and stick it on the mirror. Or set it as the label on your alarm.
It’ll really help give your motivation a boost when you need it most.
If you’re still looking for a helping hand to coach you through your first 5K run, download our 5K training plan for some week by week guidance.