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  • Writer's picturePhil Murray

Are You Thinking About a 5K?

Have you been thinking about participating in a 5K race? You may be thinking about going even bigger, like a 10K race.

If you are considering participating in a 5K race for the first time, then the most important thing to note is that the word “race” is used very lightly, and until you have broken the ice and are challenging yourself more, the word “race” should probably even be dropped from your brain.

When participating in a 5K you are taking a step to try something new, it gives you a goal to work towards, and introduces something new and exciting to your exercise world.

But, going outside your comfort zone is always a little intimidating, particularly to do something with lots of other people around. So, let’s decide right at the top here to drop the word “race” and just call it a 5K.

A 5K is 3.1 miles and a great place to start, even if you are only walking. Most 5Ks can be completed in as little as 20 minutes if you are running, but a lot of participants will take 45 minutes simply walking the course.

Why is it a good idea to sign up for a 5K?

· Setting a new goal to work towards

Chances are if you are thinking about signing up for a 5K you have already started doing some walking, and maybe even going for an occasional jog! You don’t need a 5K to keep doing those things and reaping the benefits, but it does bring a commitment to keep a clear goal to work towards.

If you enjoy working towards it and completing the 5K, then it has an easy chain to move up and start preparing for another one and can lead towards signing up for longer runs down the road.

· Finding like-minded friends

Due to the organized nature of a formal 5K, there are typically benefits such as meetups before the 5K to practice with other participants, some 5Ks offer an online preparation program, and of course there is the day of where you can meet tons of others who are also taking part in the event and looking to meet you!

· Supporting a cause

Another benefit of a formal 5K is that they often are raising awareness or funds for a cause, such as research, or a charity. That can be powerful to be a part of as well – for example: the 5K that I take part in every year supports children’s hospitals through the Children’s Miracle Network.

Sometimes the 5K will have a particular cause that everyone runs for, sometimes you can put together a small group that will support and display your own cause. Either way, this is a great initiative found among most 5Ks.

· To find motivation and good feelings

In addition to the motivation you will gain from setting a goal to participate in a 5K (through giving yourself a reason to prepare and a time frame to do so), you will also be motivated by the desire to complete a new activity and will find even more motivation once you have completed it!

There are many more reasons why a 5K is a fun and rewarding experience for you while working to have a healthy lifestyle, but no matter what reason you resonate with the most, you will certainly find that being a part of a formal 5K will help you meet goals and stay fit!

Here are a few tips for getting started

· Find upcoming runs in your area.

Almost everywhere has a local running group that promotes and sponsors a few runs a year. Larger areas will have multiple clubs! A good place to start is by looking up the Road Runners Club of America for an easy directory of events and groups in your area (

You can also Google “5Ks near me” or call around to local fitness shops or athletic clubs to get some information.

· Consider the weather

You may prefer running when it’s cooler outside, or maybe you love the hot summer days. Think about what will create the best experience for you and that you will enjoy the most for your first one. As you try more and more you will become comfortable with all sorts of weather. For starters however, think about choosing a time of year that will be a fun experience for your tastes.

The weather is not always in your control however, you may sign up for a 5K and 3 months down the road discover that it will be a rainy day – or very hot – or some other less than ideal weather that day. Do your best to stick with it, but be prepared with the right clothes or travel that will keep the experience positive.

· Set up a training plan

Decide on a goal for your 3.1 mile event and make a plan to progress to that point between now and the 5K. Maybe you would like to complete it in under 30-minutes, then you will have a target to train towards. Maybe you start by walking 1 mile each time you walk this week, then next week add a little more, and so on until you are walking 3.1 miles.

Then once you can do that you start jogging a portion of it or timing yourself and trimming down the time it takes slowly over your preparation period. That is just an example, don’t be afraid to ask a trainer to assist in making the plan, or you can even find many good ones online.

But you will want to set a plan so you have targets you are working towards each week so you will have tangible markers to see the progress you are making along the way.

Wrap Up

Jordan Syatt, a professional trainer and influencer made a post I saw on Instagram recently that said this:

“Most people think motivation works like this: Motivation > Action > Results > Motivation.

It actually works like this: Action > Results > Motivation > Action.”

The point that Jordan Syatt is making is that you can’t wait till motivation hits. You have to start with taking action. And we are wired in a way that motivation follows that action. So the first step in completing a 5K? Take action.

Pull up your laptop, find a 5K, and sign up! That is the action you can start with. Even if you don’t feel like participating in a 5K. Once you have made a commitment and begin to take steps towards that commitment, motivation will follow. And greater motivation is in store when you meet your goal and complete the 5K!

But it starts with you taking action. This is true in so much of like, but we see it so clearly in fitness. Give yourself something to work towards that will help you take action – you simply cannot wait for motivation to kick in on its own.

Signing up for a 5K is one of many great ways you can begin the cycle of taking action, seeing results, being motivated, and feeling great about it!

Listen to our full conversation about participating in a 5K on the Simple(ish) Fitness Podcast anywhere you listen to podcasts!


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