It’s the first race that many women will ever enter and often leaves you hooked on the running bug. Here double Olympian Liz Yelling shares her top tips for those of you who are training for a 5km run.
You can do it
The hardest steps to take for many runners are the first ones up off the sofa and out of the front door! The greatest hurdle is making that first commitment. Taking those first tentative steps outside in running shoes and getting going is easy once you’ve decided you want, and can, do it. Don’t be daunted by the prospect of getting started. It’s not all tight, bright lycra and fast running. Your entry into a 5km run provides you with wonderful enthusiasm and a motivational boost and should charge your spirit and body to get going.
Don’t run before you can walk! A common problem with many new women runners is that they’re too fast at the start. They leave their front door and sprint as fast as they can. By the time they reach the end of the road they are grovelling, red faced and puffing on the floor, muscles feeling like lead and thinking ‘I knew it, it’s no good, I can’t do this running’. They give up and drag themselves home, exhausted, disappointed and dejected. I think it’s because we think everyone’s watching. Truth is, they’re not. If this reminds you of unpleasant experiences of school PE lessons that, in all honesty, you’d rather forget, then it’s time to rethink your approach to exercise and running.
Walk the walk
If you haven’t done any exercise in a while – don’t panic. Spend the first four to six weeks of your new regime regularly walking (yes, that’s right, walking!) and build up until you feel confident and competent enough to break into short periods of jogging with regular walk breaks. Depending on your fitness levels, or how you feel, you can vary the length of time you walk and run. Gradually lengthen the time you spend jogging and shorten the time you spend walking until you can keep going without stopping for 30 minutes on three to five days a week.
There are no rules about how long to exercise for: it’s all down to personal circumstances, motivation, fitness levels and goals. What does matter is that a little running is better than none at all. If you do nothing else between now and September 6th then regular walking/ walk running and jogging will see you toe the start line and cross the finish line.
From steps to strides
- Be gentle, start slowly. Don’t be too ambitious and expect to run before you can walk.
- Be smart. Build up progressively. Slowly add extra minutes to your walk/walk-jog/run.
- Take walking breaks. Don’t be afraid to stop and walk.
- Do it regularly. Focus on frequency first, then build duration then introduce some intensity as the weeks progress.
- Get a running buddy. Double your motivation by running the event with a friend.
- Once you’ve started your running programme, don’t stop! Keep up momentum.
Tips for ring-fencing run time
- Take control: Prioritise what is important to you and spend time doing it.
- Don’t feel guilty about going for a run.
- Create boundaries around your running time.
- Be creative and flexible with your schedule.
- Find a time slot that works for you and stick to it.