We all know that cardio activities, such as running, are great for your health. Getting into a running routine will improve your well-being on numerous levels, both physically and mentally. If you’re new to running, or thinking about starting, knowing where and how to begin can be the most challenging aspects of getting up and going. The best thing to do is to set a goal and then put together a running plan.
A great starting goal for beginning runners is a 5K race, which is equal to 3.1 miles. Even if you don’t currently run at all, it can take as little as 6 weeks to train for one of these races. Most cities have 5K races on a regular basis, and they typically support good causes. Or, simply make it your goal to run 3.1 miles in 6 weeks. So, set your sites on a goal, and then follow this easy, 6-week training plan.
This first week you simply want to set your sites on getting off the couch and getting moving. Start simply by selecting four days to jog, or walk, 0.5 miles. If you choose to walk, do so at as fast a pace as you are comfortable with.
You should also plan to do two days of light strength-building. Strength-building is extremely important when training for a race as it builds the muscles needed for continual running. You don’t need to lift heavy weights and bulk up. The weight of your own body or, light, free weights, will be more than enough. You can do this in the comfort of your own home with free weights or a yoga mat, or, if you have access to a gym, use their machinery.
During this first week it’s a good idea to also start adding healthy foods to your diet and this will give you energy as you run. Avoid greasy and heavy foods that can make you feel tired and drain your energy. Foods, such as nuts, fruits, and vegetables are great for high nutrition energy.
Related: 8 Smart Ways for a Full Body Workout
Now that you’ve made it through your first week, up your mileage to 1 mile, three or four times this week. Try to run the whole way if you can, even if it is at a very slow pace. Make sure to stretch before, and after, so that you don’t pull any muscles.
Continue to strength-build twice this week. Yoga is a great strength building activity as it is a total body workout that many overlook. It’s also a great workout for runners, because it stretches out the muscles that tend to get tight, as you build your running distance.
Continue to add healthy foods to your diet. You may also notice an increase in hunger as you work out more. Definitely eat when you are hungry, but keep in mind that running one mile only burns 100 calories, so snack wisely.
Add another half mile to your run. You’re up to 1.5 miles now!
Continue to strength-build twice a week. You may want to add core exercises, like planking, or sit-ups. Make it a goal to plank for 30 seconds.
Continue to add healthy foods to your diet. Make sure to drink plenty of water before and after you workout.
You’ve made it half way through the six weeks! Just three short weeks ago you couldn’t run at all. Now you can boost your mileage to two miles, three times per week.
Continue to strength-build twice a week. Try to plank for 45 seconds.
Consider making great tasting post-workout smoothies. All you need is frozen fruit, a liquid, like fruit juice, or milk, and your good to go. Also consider adding greens to your smoothie, like spinach, or kale – they are jam-packed with anti-oxidants.
Related: Ways to Become Healthy in 14 days
Almost there! Boost your mileage up to 2.5 miles this week. Now that you are going longer distances make sure to stretch very well before, and after, each workout.
Continue to strength-build twice a week. Try to plank for 60 seconds. Squats are great for strengthening the running muscles in your legs.
As you run more, you may start becoming depleted of electrolytes. Try to replace them by drinking all-natural coconut water, which is high in potassium. Potassium is an essential electrolyte for runners.
Now you’re ready for the final leg of your training. You’re up to 3 miles this week! Try to run 3 times this week, giving yourself a rest day and two strength-building days. The day before you run the 5K, it’s a good idea to take a short run, say 1 mile, just to keep your muscles warmed up.
You can continue to strength-build this week. Just make sure you don’t over-do it. You don’t want to be sore on the day of the race.
Continue to eat healthy foods. A day, or two, before the race, make sure that you don’t eat anything too heavy, or out-of-the-ordinary. You don’t want to have to deal with an upset stomach on race day.
Hopefully, after completing your 6 weeks of training, you feel great, both inside and out. Running can truly be transformative. Don’t stop at 5K. From here you can continue your running routine by maintaining a 3 mile distance. Or, if you are feeling more ambitious, you can set your goals higher and begin to train for a 10K (6.2 miles) and, maybe even a Half Marathon (13.1 miles). Just continue to increase your mileage and pay attention to your runner’s diet and you will reach your next goal in no time!