Many people start out with the goal of running non-stop, for 5km. It seems the be the universal accepted first checkpoint as a runner. I personally think the distance is a little arbitrary but I love goals and how they can focus and refine a person.
Step 1 – Know your why
The number one question I ask as a coach when anyone comes to The Running Klub with some questions is; Why do you want to run? Why is it important to run 5km. Plenty don’t and does it really matter? If it does for you, then yes, it really does matter. If the purpose is to please others and share Instagram 5km posts, it may not be enough when the program becomes a little more challenging.
Step 2 – Have a plan
The wrong plan done with complete conviction and effort is better than the best plan done half heartedly. There are thousands of free e-books (ours here), courses and coaches offering programs, classes and support for you. Any coach/program will most likely do the job. I’m yet to see a program that screams out no! So, my advice here is: Select one and follow it with 100% conviction.
Step 3 – Find some support
We thrive from social facilitation. Connection with other and drawing from the energy of those around you. That can be virtually with a coach, group and most potently with a group of real life people (hard to come by these days). Try to make at least 1 of your weekly sessions as a group session. Parkrun if they are on. In a group. be sure to ask about the pace people general run at because you may be too fast or slow. You want to find a nice groove that’s not too much either side of your average pace. Grab a coffee afterwards, talk about your journey and hear about theirs. You will no doubt pick up some nuggets. One note – Stay true to your program no matter what people suggest as training ideas. Get to them after you are done with your first 5km!
Step 4 – Recovery and sleep
The most overlooked section for all newbie runners. I don’t have time to recover, I need to run not roll or stretch. Sleep, well, life is too busy to sleep…. The list of reasons why recovery isn’t front and center never stops amazing me. I am no longer surprised but it is important for me as a coach to ALWAYS stress the importance of recovery.
Your feet have most likely lived a life in horribly designed shoes and not in optimal condition. If your body has never ran a continuous 5km before, it is likely your muscles and tendons are not yet conditioned to take the pounding of sustained running either. Recovery and PRE-HAB (Strength & Conditioning work) for runners, in my mind is the one element we overlook all too often in programs. To stress this importance we have a whole TOE-GA series in our video library of 4 basic exercises to re-connect your feet. We will continue to grow our mini-course library to focus with more intention of other chronic newbie PRE-HAB routines.
Lastly – SLEEP. No more words needed, get enough sleep. We all know this but few prioritise.
Step 5 – Technique and load understanding
As a new runner there is what appears to be an endless pit of knowledge. You are right but there are some easy to learn basics to get you started. Often running get’s over analysed but for new runners, I think it is under analysed. Understand some key things behind foot strike, posture, cadence and rhythm. Also, knowing a little deeper knowledge about overload and avoiding doing too much too soon. This is where a program should guide gradual growth in load on a weekly basis. We suggest a Movement Screening Assessment (Think of it like a Dr’s visit for runners) before anyone starts a program. Ultimately you don’t know what you don’t know.
Follow these 5 steps and reduce the chances of sustaining an injury, increasing your performance and ULTIMATELY enjoy your running journey much more!