In anticipation of what I call “5K Season,” which is essentially the cooler months of the year & when organizations tend to pile on 5Ks in celebration of the holidays, I decided to put a little something together detailing my training & preparation for my first 5K in 2016, then how I quickly got hooked on them!
Let’s rewind a bit. It’s January 2016. New year, new goals. I was tipping the scales at about 345 pounds. I had just agreed to enter into an Advocare 24-day weight loss challenge alongside my boyfriend. Not only was I getting nervous and discouraged by my extreme weight and ill-prepared physical condition. I. Was. Terrified. I began binge-reading beginner information: starting a diet, working out, supplements, all that jazz. I wanted to get comfortable with myself and comfortable getting myself in public to exercise.
I read an article about how setting many small goals is much more beneficial than one large goal, so that is exactly what I did. One of my small goals was to complete one 5K run before the year’s end. And so, I got myself into the gym, lost weight, gained confidence and really learned to love myself and my body. I downloaded a Couch to 5K app, and in 3 weeks, it had helped condition my body from not doing any physical activity to actually being able to jog and in no time, complete a 5K. And then, in early May, I saw an ad for a 5K on South Padre Island, the Causeway Run. It was the first weekend in June, and started on the island, then crossed the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway into Port Isabel. It was intimidating, but it was something I was able to convince my brother to help me accomplish.
So, on June 4, 2016, I took on my very first 5K. At 8AM, when the race began, the sun was brightly shining down on the runners and the water below the causeway. Then suddenly, the winds shifted and a freak storm blew in. I was at the highest point of the bridge when the winds gusted. I felt scared and a little discouraged. I wanted to quit, turn around, and go home. But I knew I had to keep going. So I got into Port Isabel, soaking and only about a block away from the finish line. I was extremely weighed down by the water and my shoes were practically ruined, but I crossed that finish line with tears of excitement. It took me just over an hour to finish, but I was so stoked!
So after the completion of 5K number one, I ran into some health problems, put on some pounds and lost some momentum to continue on my health kick. So it wasn’t until late September that I decided to try my second 5K. Then another. And then two more. In less than a year, I’d completed five 5K run/walks! It was such an exhilarating feeling. My body was doing things I never thought it could. I had conditioned my body to do what I thought was impossible, and I was hungry for more! Plus, getting those awesome medals at the end of each race made the finish that much sweeter!
Unfortunately, between work and my own personal issues, I didn’t get to participate in too many runs after that first year, but I certainly hope to get back into it soon! And so, I wanted to give you all just a few tips on getting started!
Don’t overdo it!
- One of the worst things you can do to your body is to throw yourself into a new and foreign workout routine. Allow your body to gradually get used to a new routine. For example, don’t try to jump in and do a 3-mile jog if your body isn’t used to it. Instead, start with interval training. Start with a brisk walk, then alternate between jogging and walking, then slowly ween yourself off the walking. Slow progress is better than none at all, and I can promise you, it is much better than passing out from overexertion! Download a training app, like C25K, to help keep track of interval training and to help get you 5K ready in no time!
- Speaking of overexertion, dehydration is another one of those sneaky things that can definitely put a damper on your run if you aren’t careful! You should always drink plenty of water throughout your day, beginning right when you get up & especially before, during and after your run. If you begin to feel dizzy, lightheaded, or your vision begins to tunnel, it is a good idea to take a seat and drink some water. If you’ve been sweating a lot, make sure to be wary if you suddenly aren’t sweating anymore. This can be another serious sign of dehydration or heat stroke. As always, take breaks and do not spend excessive time in the sun if you can avoid it!
Invest in good shoes!
- We all love a good sale! I, for one, love to save anywhere I can, but one place I will almost never cheap out is when it comes to my shoes. Your feet are probably something you don’t think too much about pampering, but y’all, they literally carry all of our weight! It is imperative to buy shoes that are specifically built for running/walking that offer support for your feet and have flexible soles that will be able to shape to changing terrain, whether it be a treadmill, pavement or even a rugged trail. Having proper shoes can make or break your 5K! Make sure to shop around and find what works for you. It’s okay to not settle on the first pair you try, and what works for someone else may not work for you. Find something that works for you!
Have fun with it!
- While winning a race or getting a prize makes the event a little more exciting, it is important to just have fun! One of my favorite things about 5K runs is getting up early, enjoying the cool morning air, and getting a burst of fresh air in my lungs to start the day. Being surrounded by passionate people like yourself and just taking a nice run/jog/walk is rewarding in itself. And whether you’re first, last or somewhere in between, remember that you are supporting a cause & also bettering yourself through health & wellness awareness. That is the best gift of all!