How to Prepare for your First 5-Mile Run – A Beginner’s Guide

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How to Prepare for your First 5-Mile Run – A Beginner’s Guide

Running can change your life. It is a great way to be fit and feel better about yourself. Getting yourself into the habit of running is not a difficult thing to do. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and the right discipline.

Running is a good form of exercise. It also lets you go outside for a little time for yourself and to take a breath from your daily work routine. For some people, running allows them to socialize, especially with a buddy or joining a running group.

Many people take their running habits to a higher level by choosing to join a 5-mile run.

Why Should You Sign Up for Your First 5-Mile Run?

5K and 10K races are not hard to find. A 5-mile race, however, is more difficult to find. 

What’s with a 5-mile race? A 5-mile distance is perfect for beginner runners if you have already completed a few 5K runs and are ready for the longer distance (5 miles) but not yet ready enough for a 10K.

The 5-mile distance is also a reasonable distance for experienced runners aiming to run faster this time. The 5-mile runs are the best ways of building your aerobic strength and speed, so you become a stronger runner.

Whether you are training for a 5-mile race or aiming to satisfy your desire to run 5 miles a day or a week for fitness or lose weight, you need to prepare well for the challenge.

Training for a 5-Mile Race

If you are a beginner runner, you will need to earn a mark of 8 weeks to train for your first 5-mile run. Training will include weekly workouts and running. You do not need to run every day. You should not run, as a matter of fact, for two consecutive days.

It is a better technique to do cross-training or rest in between your running days. Cross-training refers to any physical activity that can complement your training:

  • Walking
  • Biking
  • Cycling
  • Dancing
  • Rowing
  • Swimming
  • Upper-body strength training

A 15-20-minute strength training two times a week will also be a big help.

Before training for a 5-mile run, it is assumed that you can easily run at least a mile.

Start each training day walking or jogging for about 10 minutes. Run at your own pace or at a speed that still allows you to talk to your running buddy. Cool-down with a slow jog or walk for another 10 minutes.

Follow this 8-week training schedule:

Week 1

Day 1               Do a slow 1-mile

Day 2                Rest

Day 3                Do a slow 1-mile run

Day 4                Do cross-training for 45 minutes

Day 5                Rest               

Day 6                Do a slow 1.5-mile run

Day 7                Do a 30-minute walk, and then you can rest for the whole day

Follow this same schedule for Week 2.

Week 3

Day 1               Do a slow for a 2-mile run

Day 2               Rest

Day 3               Do a slow 2-mile run

Day 4               Do cross-training for 45 minutes

Day 5               Rest

Day 6               Do a slow 2-mile run

Day 7               Do a 30-minute walk, and then you can rest for the whole day.

Week 4

Day 1                Do a slow 2-mile run

Day 2                Rest

Day 3                Do a slow 1.5-mile run

Day 4                Do cross-training for 45 minutes            

Day 5                Rest

Day 6                Do a slow 2.5-mile run                 

Day 7                Do a 30-minute walk, and then you can rest for the whole day.

Week 5

Day 1                Do a slow 3-mile run

Day 2                Rest

Day 3                Do a slow 2-mile run  

Day 4                Do cross-training for 45 minutes

Day 5                Rest

Day 6                Do a slow 3-mile run

Day 7                Do a 30-minute walk, and then you can rest for the whole day.

Week 6

Day 1                Do a slow 3.5-mile run  

Day 2                Rest

Day 3                Do a slow 3-mile run

Day 4                Do cross-training for 45 minutes 

Day 5                Rest

Day 6                Do a slow 3.5-mile run

Day 7                Do a 30-minute walk, and then you can rest for the whole day.

Week 7

Day 1                Do a slow 4-mile run 

Day 2                Rest

Day 3                Do a slow 3-mile run

Day 4                Do cross-training for 45 minutes 

Day 5                Rest

Day 6                Do a slow 4.5-mile run

Day 7                Do a 30-minute walk, and then you can rest for the whole day.

Week 8

Day 1                 Run at a regular pace for 40 minutes

Day 2                 Do cross-training for 30 minutes 

Day 3                 Run at a regular pace for 30 minutes

Day 4                 Rest

Day 5                 Run at a regular pace for 30 minutes

Day 6                 Rest

Day 7                 Race day

Take it a little easy on your 8th week of training. This will make you well-rested for the race ahead.

5-Mile Run Training Tips

To start running, you do not need to spend on too much gear, just yourself, and a lot of determination.

Here are a few tips to get yourself ready for your first 5-Mile run:

  • Have a Good Reason to run

Training for and running a 5-mile race is a grueling endeavor even if you have already run a few races. Whether you are a beginner runner or a seasoned runner, you should always ask yourself why you are undertaking such an endeavor.

Your answer will give you the purpose and motivation to keep on going during training and on race day.

The list of reasons why you are joining a 5-mile run is endless. Some of the common reasons range from trying something new to hoping to lose some weight. Some join a 5-mile run to raise funds for a cause. Many, though, just want to challenge themselves.

  • Find a Running Buddy

Before you get started, get your doctor’s consent to make sure you have a clean bill of health to train for a 5-mile run. Call a friend to be your running buddy.

Training and eventually running your 5-mile race will be more fun when you have a running buddy. A running buddy will also keep you motivated to stick to your training because you can lift each other’s spirits.

If you cannot convince your friends to be a running buddy, search for a running club in your community. Your local running supply store can also help you find a running body or a running club.

  • Pick your Shoes and Socks

Do not be swayed by the sales pitches of the known brands, do your research. When you get to the store, try on about three or five pairs of running shoes. Jog around the store and see how the shoes fit.

Comfort should be your main priority. Pick the pair of running shoes that feel good. It is crucial to invest in the right pair of running shoes for the protection of your feet.

Buy your running shoes from a store that specializes in running and not just any sporting goods stores. The experts know what running shoes are a perfect fit for you based on your foot and stride.

Be ready to spend some good money on your running shoes as this is your most important gear. When you are done with your running shoes, move on to your socks, shorts, moisture-wicking shirts, and undergarments.

Your pair of socks is the second most important running gear. Not wearing the right pair of socks can cause blisters that can be painful and make you miss training days.

Choose a breathable and snug pair of socks. The best pair of socks are those made from sweat-wicking material. This material keeps moisture away from your feet and will, therefore, prevent bacteria accumulation between your toes. Bacteria cause foul foot odor.

Socks should not have seams and should not be too thick. The socks reach over the back of your angle. This will prevent your ankle from rubbing against your running shoes. Before buying many pairs, try to run with the socks first.

  • Have a Training Schedule

A written training schedule will help keep you focused on your training. The focus of your training should be running every other day, resting, and doing cross-training.

  • Start Slow

Do not overexert yourself when you are just starting to train. Start with walking, a slow run, and finally, a regular-paced run ideal for a 5-mile run. Start off running for a few minutes and walking for the rest of the remaining minutes. As you develop your endurance, you can walk less and run more.

Even during the race, you can do a combination of running and walking until you cross the finish line.

  • Run-on Multiple Surfaces

On each training day, run a different route and run on different surfaces. Run-on soft surfaces (trails and grass), running on uneven surfaces can make your lower legs and feet stronger, and running on roads can help your race rhythm and make your legs harder.

Getting used to running on different surfaces can also reduce your risk of developing running-related injuries.

  • Use Timing Devices

A timing device can help keep track of your training. You can use a standard watch or get one of those techy GPS watches. You can also download an app on your smartphone.

  • Download a Playlist

It can be fun to run while listening to music you love. Music can help you relax and motivate you to keep on running. It also takes away the boredom out of running. Do not be limited to music. You can also choose to listen to a podcast or audiobooks. Listening to this stuff keeps the pains of running out of your head.

  • The Right Mindset

Confidence is the most important thing you can take with you to the starting line. Having confidence means you are ready to achieve your running goals.

While you are training your body for the 5-mile run, you should also work on your mental fitness. Condition your mind on what to expect. Gain confidence from the hard work you did during training.

Mental fitness and physical fitness work hand in hand so you can run a perfect race.

  • Study the Race Route

Nobody goes to battle bind. As a runner, you should not appear on race day without knowing the route and what to expect along the way. Learn weeks in advance what to expect and train for it. Is the course flat? Are there many turns and narrow spots? Knowing all these will allow you to customize your training.

How to Prepare for Running a 5-Mile run

You just do not wake up, change into your running gear and start running whether you are in training or during race day.

  • Eat Well

Make a list of what to eat while on training, specifically what to eat before and after running. Your list should include carbs and some proteins. If you choose to eat a peanut butter sandwich, eat one half of the sandwich about an hour before running and the other half a few minutes after running.

Many new runners make the mistake of not eating before running. If you do not eat before running, you will not supply your body with the needed fuel to sustain you while running. Eating an hour before running will boost your energy without hurting your stomach.

Eat 15 minutes after running. This will enable your body to re-synthesize and quickly recover. What you eat while working out should not replace your meal.

Continue with your breakfast, lunch, and dinner routine. Add in a snack before and after running. When you are physically active, eating less than three meals a day will not give you enough energy.

  • Hydrate Yourself

Carry a bottle of water while running the race if the day is too hot. As you are completing your 5-mile run, soak yourself every so often. Drink enough water but not too much.

While you are running, drink water when you are thirsty. You can also opt to drink sports drinks. When you sweat, you release electrolytes – water-soluble nutrients such as sodium.

Drinking sports drinks can replace the electrolytes released by your body. If you are, however, running for an hour or less, drinking water is fine. Running for over an hour means you will need to replace nutrients released by your body. This is the time you should take a few sips of energy or sports drinks.

Be careful, though, not to drink too much of these sports drinks because they contain sugar. While training to run, you are on a healthy diet, and too much sugar can ruin your diet. Water is, therefore, often the best choice to hydrate.

Remember, too, not to drink too much water before running. Some people gulp water before running, thinking that doing so will not make them thirsty.

Some also think drinking too much water before a long run can prevent heat-related illnesses or cramping. The truth is, heart-related illnesses are caused by over-exerting yourself. Do not drink too much water because overhydration can be more dangerous than dehydration.

How to Prevent Injury while Running

When you run, you should be ready for any possible pain that comes with your routine. You should know how to deal with leg cramps, pain, and side stitches, so such injuries will not sideline you.

  • Leg Cramps

When you over-excite your nerve endings, you develop fatigue that can result in leg cramps. Fatigue is often caused when you run faster than your usual pace during training.

To treat leg cramps, stretch the muscles of the affected leg. Stretching will calm the manic and misfire the nervous system connecting to your muscles. Some people say pickle juice can relieve leg cramps.

  • Pain in your Feet

Your feet are the common target of pain when you are into running. The constant banging of your toes and heels on the ground or pavement causes aches and pains.

Bruises, calluses, blisters, and even losing a toenail are common occurrences after running for many miles.

It is not much you can do to prevent these injuries except to wear a comfortable pair of shoes and socks.

Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the plantar fascia (fibrous tissue) at the bottom of the foot connecting your heel bone to your toes. Simple stretching can alleviate the pain caused by this injury.

  • Side Stitches

Slide stitches are cramps in your abdomen. This happens when you are always slouching your back. The pain can generally be relieved by taking a deep breath to straighten your back. Run with straight back to prevent side stitches.

Slide stitches are often felt above the hip and sometimes on the shoulders when it is felt after you slow down, and on the left side of your body, this could be a sign that you may be prone to having a heart attack.

Side Stitches can be relieved by stretching and avoiding sitting down. Some people think the pain can be relieved by stretching the muscles in your thigh.

Dynamic stretching is what you can do instead. The repeated movement will warm your muscles. A good warm-up, including a few squats, can relieve the pain, as well.

To avoid injuries while running, do a good warm-up, or do some stretching. Stretching and warming up will keep your muscles moving and, therefore, prevent you from straining any part of your body while running.

Important Things to Remember

Here are some of the things you need to do before your 5-Mile run race:

The Night Before the Race

  • Continue with your daily routine. This is not the time to change your diet, try a new drink, buy new shoes, or do new things you have not been doing during your training. Stick with your routine.
  • Do not stress out your feet. Relax. This is not the time to go shopping, sightseeing, or do some outdoor chores. Those can wait until after the race.
  • Do not overeat. Focus on eating a healthy diet, especially on the day before the race.
  • On the night before the race, prepare your running shorts, shirt, and bib (if you already have it). Do not go to the race without your bib.
  • Get as much sleep as you can. An eight-hour sleep the night before the race is most ideal.

Race Day

  • Avoid eating a heavy meal two hours before the race. Have a meal consisting of carbs, a little fat and fiber, and a little protein. A typical meal for seasoned runners before a meal includes a peanut butter sandwich and banana and some fruits.
  • Do not drink too much water. At the same time, you need to be hydrated, not take any liquids 30 minutes before starting the race. It is better to make sure you are hydrated a few days before the race.
  • If the race is in the morning, drink water as you wake up. If your race is at night, drink enough water throughout the day.
  • Wear simple gear you are comfortable with. Avoid overdressing.
  • Arrive early. You may still need to get your number (if you still do not have it).

Getting into your first 5-mile run, have the right mindset. Your goal should be clear in your mind as it will motivate you to do your best.

During the Race

  • Always keep your goals in mind: to have a perfect race and to cross the finish line.
  • Start slow and remain consistent. Run the first mile slower than your usual pace and think that you will finish strong. Starting faster than your regular pace will make you burned out and tired early into the race.
  • Keep a consistent pace so you can save your energy for the home stretch all the way to the finish line.

After the Race

Walk for 10 minutes after the race to gradually lower your heart rate to its resting state. Do some stretching exercises to warm down your back, hips, and legs.

Goals of a Beginner Runner

When you are running your first 5-mile race, the pacing is both the trick to keep you going yet a challenge to do. A consistent pace throughout the entire race, except when you need to slow down when running on an upward slope or faster when running downward, will help you finish the race.

The right pacing will help you achieve your goals for your first 5-mile run:

Finishing the Race

It is every runner’s goal to finish the race. Start slow, or at the pace you are comfortable and confident with. You need to be able to sustain the 5-mile distance, so be sure to pace yourself.

During training and the trend is for you to be already tired at 4.5 miles, start your 5-mile race slower, so you do not get burned out at the 4.5-mile mark.

Aim for a Good Time

If you want to clock in good time, you should start with a good pace that is about 12 seconds slower than your usual pace (previous race or during training).

If you do not achieve your expected time, practice more for your next 5-mile race. More practice, while eventually making you achieve your desired time.

Why is Running the First Mile the Hardest?

Most runners always say that the first mile is always the hardest and most challenging. This is so because your muscles are just beginning to warm up.

At the start of the race, you need your body to get into the aerobic state from an anaerobic state. At this point, you will still not have enough oxygen for the pace you have chosen.

Since you are still revving up on the first mile to find a comfortable pace, you will tend to breathe harder. During the first mile, you will also be starting either too slow or too fast. You will also tend to keep on looking at your watch to check on your pace.

You should be able to find the right pace within the first mile and should be able to stick to that pace all through the 4.5-mile mark. The first mile will set the pace of your entire race.

The more races you run, the more you will get used to the first mile’s challenges. Then, dealing with the first mile will be a lot easier.

Final Thoughts

You do not just wake up today and tell yourself you are joining a 5-mile run next week. A 5-mile run requires physical and mental preparedness. A standard training schedule for a 5-mile run takes about 8-10 weeks. Training for mental fitness also takes some time. Decide early on why you want to join a 5-mile run. Prepare all the things you need. Train hard to gain the confidence to run a perfect race.

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