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Training For Your First 5K

From spring to fall, you can typically find at least one 5K race in every town. This year, you can participate in the races by training now.

Tomorrow begins what I like to refer to as a never-ending stream of 5K runs and/or walks that continue through autumn.

First up is the , which raises money for Joliet Junior College’s student scholarships.

Like most 5Ks, this run takes place at an early hour of your Saturday morning. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., with a race-day entry fee of $30, and the race begins at 9 a.m. The run loops through JJC’s Main Campus and Will County Forest Preserve trails.

If you ignore every mention of a 5K -- like I did for years -- it’s time you consider participating in one. No matter how old you are, 5K events usually offer the choice of running or walking, and they usually donate the entry fee money to good causes. If this particular run doesn’t interest you, there will be lots more to choose from in future weeks.

As a beginner, how do you prepare for a 5K? For one, you skip the race tomorrow, because your body needs time to train and prepare for a long run. Then, you begin a training schedule as soon as your schedule allows.

Kristin Ehler, Fitness Manager at The Oaks Recreation and Fitness Center, explained that the most important aspects of training for any type of race are consistency, health and hydration.

Ehler said that three days of the week should concentrate on increasing your running length and speed. Aside from those three days, one day is for a simple, comfortable run, another is for cross training and two days of the week are just designated for rest.

Cross training means you spend one day per week participating in a physical activity aside from running. This could consist of biking, swimming, time on the elliptical or strength training.

“People think they should avoid strength training, but that’s not the case at all. They’ll have better results in their run because of it,” Ehler pointed out.

Also, Ehler stated that those two rest days are key.

“Resting twice a week will help in recovery and prevent injuries,” Ehler said. Stretching after each run is just as important, Ehler also said.

According to Ehler, nutrition and hydration are also significant aspects of training. Sticking to a healthy diet will allow your body to work at its highest potential.

“Make sure you’re eating good food and looking at it as energy for your body,” Ehler said.

While training, Ehler explained that you should test different types of food before long runs to see what works best with your body. On the morning of the race, stick with the food that gives you the most energy and the least amount of discomfort.

When it comes to finding a 5K training schedule, Ehler stated that a bunch are available online, but she said people can change them up a bit to best fit their schedules.

“The biggest thing is giving you enough time to train, along with rest days, and remaining on a consistent and appropriate program,” Ehler said. With this advice, she said anyone can run a race.

Ehler said that six to eight weeks is a sufficient amount of time to train for a 5K.

If you need a goal in mind, you’re in luck. The is hosting its very first 5K on June 11, called the Summertime Stride.

“If you start training now, you’ll be finished just in time for our Summertime Stride,” Ehler explained.

To assist you in your training, search the Internet for specific 5K schedules, such as the ones from the Mayo Clinic or from Fitness Magazine.

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