I don’t profess to be an expert at running. And one thing I’ve never been is a long-distance runner. When I say long-distance, I’m being a bit generous to myself. In truth, I’m not even a medium distance runner. I did a 10K back in April (yay for the Vancouver Sun Run!) and that was the longest I have ever run. 10Ks are my marathons :). I’m happy to do one every now and again but prefer to stick to 5Ks if I have the choice.
I haven’t been running much lately, as I injured my knee earlier this year and I have been advised by many doctors to avoid running and pursue other forms of exercise which are gentler on the body, so I tend to get my cardio from intense flow yoga classes or from incline walks on the treadmill or intervals on the gym’s cardio machines rather than running.
My knee, however, is starting to feel better, so I’m hoping to start running again. Of course, having been out of action for so long now, my running stamina will no doubt be terrible when I get back into it. Well, when I first started training for my very first 5K I used a training guide that I will no doubt be turning to again now that I am thinking of getting back into it – and I wanted to share it with you all!
The great thing about running is that it’s more natural to us than any other sport. It just involves moving our body, no gimmicks, no gadgets (though I will talk about gadgets as this series goes on as they are important!).
I believe that running is 90% mental and 10% physical, this plan is going to take things reallllllly slow, and ease you into it carefully. This is because if you push yourself too hard and then feel sick after your first run, it’ll be so hard to get yourself to go out again. The best thing is to make each run a pleasant experience that you remember fondly, so that you’ll be really excited to go out there again! You HAVE to listen to this quote:
I’m going to post my five-step training program over the next five weeks, one post a week, each Thursday. If you want to keep doing Step 1 or Step 2 for more than a week, DO SO. These posts will always be here for you to come back to when you’re ready to progress to the next step! Take it slowly, trust me…you’ll feel the difference. There’s no hurry to get there – everyone can run a 5K, no matter what your fitness level, so if it takes you 5 weeks or 20 weeks – or more – to get there, it’s all good!
Also, you will notice that it’s not just running in these plans. I incorporate gym workouts, yoga and other activities. You will get sick of it really fast if all you do is run every day, and these other workouts complement running – you need to build up muscle strength (which the weight training regimes will help with) and stretch out your muscles (with yoga) as running can get you really tight if you don’t stretch well, and you’ll be more prone to injuries.
Each week, after the week’s training plan I will include a “Spotlight on”, which will focus on providing information on something that can help out with your training progress.
DISCLAIMER: Before we get started, please note I am NOT a doctor or an expert of any sort in this field so you will need to consult a doctor before trying a new exercise plan. Please just be smart and listen to your body – rest when you need to! This is simply my training plan when I started running again, and I found it really beneficial so thought I would share :).
DAY 1: Get outside and do a 20-minute walk/run workout. Aim for a 60/40 split with walking/running – walk for 12 minutes of the 20 and run for 8. You can walk for 12 straight and run the last 8 or split it up like so:
Walk 2 mins (warm-up)
Run 1 min
Walk 2 mins
Run 1 min
Walk 4 mins
Run 2 mins
Walk 2 mins
Run 2 mins
Walk 2 mins (cooldown)
STRETCH (so important!)
I’m telling you, start slow!
DAY 2: Hit the gym. You want to work out your upper body a bit as you really use this when running, even if you don’t think you do. So do this circuit and then stretch really well afterwards!
15 bicep curls
15 bench tricep dips
15 bench press
15 reverse flyes
15 hammer curls
15 lat pulldowns
15 assisted pull-ups
25 bicycle twists
25 reverse crunches
DAY 3: REST! This is your complete rest day – so try to rest as completely as possible.
DAY 4: Do a yoga class or yoga at home using a DVD or a routine from the Internet. Try to do a class such as a flow class or an energetic hatha, but nothing too draining – you’re running tomorrow!
DAY 5: Go for a run where you maintain the same pace the whole time (if this is brisk walking for you at this stage, that’s totally fine). You are aiming to run for 20 minutes straight. If you are able, try to work out how far you are managing to run in 20 minutes. We want to eventually work to get you to doing 2 miles in 20 minutes but this may take some time. If you’re just going one mile at the moment, that’s fine.
If you need help on working out how far you’re running, try MapMyRun – it’s genius!
And remember – afterwards, STRETCH!
DAY 6: Go to the gym for a 30-minute cardio circuit. This means doing 10 minutes on three different machines of your choice, at a level that challenges you. Spend the first 5 minutes at a slightly easier level to warm up, and return to this level in the final 5 minutes to cool down. STRETCH!
DAY 7: This is your active rest day. You can do a yin yoga class (intense stretching, but no real calorie burn) or go for a light walk around your neighbourhood. Whatever relaxes you but still gets you moving your body a little bit.
Remember, if you need to do this week’s plan for 2 or 3 weeks before moving on, do so! But if you are determined to get to that 5K in 5 weeks, meet me next Thursday for your Week 2 plan!
SPOTLIGHT ON: Music
Running with music is a totally different ballgame than running without.
A playlist of your favourite songs can provide that much-needed motivational push when your body is starting to tire. I also find music distracting, so allow yourself to get lost in it so you are not paying so much attention to how far you’ve run or how tired you’re feeling.
Be careful though! One word of warning, particularly as we are trying to pace ourselves with this training plan: really uptempo songs can make you run faster than you should be, particularly if you’ve just set out on your run. I recommend using song’s bpm (beats per minute) measurement to select a playlist carefully. Choose slower songs to start and build up to quicker songs towards the end of your playlist, when you might be starting to tire.
(If you have some favourite songs in mind and want to know their bpm, just Google their name and ‘bpm’ and you should find it out pretty quickly!)
The best website? RockMyRun.com – tons of free running playlists available. Some do cost money but there’s tons of free ones that have been tried and tested by other runners!