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New to running, or fancy setting yourself a goal? Training for a 5k can be a daunting but highly rewarding feat. If you’re nervous about taking the plunge, or struggling to work up the motivation to start, there are a few simple things that can help you become your best. Lace up those trainers, fire up your best playlist and check out these tips to prepare for a 5k.
Get kitted out
Making sure you have the correct kit before embarking on a run is crucial for avoiding injuries. You don’t have to spend the earth on the latest gear, but it’s important to wear a good, comfortable pair of running shoes. Also, layer up! Instead of wearing one thick jacket or jumper, layer on a few light and breathable items that will still keep you warm – but can be easily taken off if you’re getting too hot.
This tip is especially important in the winter! Running when your muscles are cold can lead to increased muscle soreness or risk of injury. So, make sure you do 5-10 mins of dynamic exercises, such as knee lifts, side stepping and climbing stairs, to get the blood flowing and warm up the body first.
You’re going to be using more energy than you would when simply sitting or standing, so you may want a small snack to fuel those miles before you star. Try not to eat too close to running, so you have time to digest before setting off. I love peanut butter and banana or an egg on toast. And porridge makes great running fuel, too! Don’t forget to refuel afterwards – whip up a tasty brunch after a morning run with these Cook with Co-op recipes.
Tip: Discover plenty of exciting recipes to help support a healthier diet.
If your history of running is limited to legging it for the bus, don’t start by running a 5k outright! In order to ensure every run is manageable (and enjoyable), start small and work your way up. You don’t need to run it either – feel free to walk or jog if that’s what you’re more comfortable with. parkrun welcomes all abilities and levels!
For those who are determined to get better at running, instead of focusing on the distance, for example, try setting yourself the goal of running for five minutes continuously, then 10 minutes, then 15 minutes and so on. You’ll quickly notice an improvement in stamina.
I’ll be the first to admit that one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to running is getting out of the door in the first place – especially when it’s cold and dark outside. They key is to find out what motivates you. That’s why parkrun can be a fantastic place to start: there’s a real sense of community and togetherness that forms every event. Everyone’s welcome!
Move to music
If exercising solo is more your thing, fire up a playlist that makes you want to move. There’s nothing like a few catchy tunes to get you in the mood!
Tip: Running to music means your senses are dulled, so take care when crossing roads or running around corners.
Join us for the parkrun resolution
You’ve got the gear, made your playlist and are suitably fuelled up. All you need now is a community to keep you motivated. Whether you want to take your first steps to a more active future, commit to supporting friends or family members to walk or run that little bit more, or improve your own 5k time, why not make this your #parkrunresolution. Sign up to parkrun to log your results with (not)parkrun, keep track of your progress and join a supportive and welcoming community where nobody ever finishes last.
Find out more about how you can get involved with parkrun or check out the NHS running guide for beginners for more tips. Plus, discover lots of health and wellbeing advice, including how to get your 5 a day, guidance on nutrition labels, and more.
This blog was written in line with current government advice and we are constantly reviewing our guidance in line with national safety measures.
Assistant partnerships manager