I recently completed the 5K Pump & Run event at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. I'm not much of a runner, so after I signed up, I looked up "5K Training Program," but didn't find much on the subject. This was my first run of this length, so I thought any help would be better than none. Since I didn't find much info myself, I decided to share my own 5K training program for people who are considering running their first 5K.
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If you've run in 5Ks before, this probably won't help you. It's not too complicated, but it helped me improve my time by over 10 minutes in the 9 weeks leading up to the race.
Mapping Out The Run
If you have a track in your area, go there and run 12-1/2 laps to complete the 5K. I got in my car and tracked my route via the odometer. I went out 1.6 miles, then turned around, making the round trip (out and back) a total of 3.2 miles. Since 5K converts to 3.1 miles, I decided that going a little over would help me.
After the drive, I set my stopwatch on my cell phone and went for it. I'm not an experienced runner, and when I started I weighed 254 pounds, so I knew I would end up walking some of the distance. When I finally made it back to my house, my time was 44:51 and I was sucking air. My next goal was simple. Beat that time!
You can't just run and hope to improve without nutritional support. My nutrition plan was six small meals a day, each containing at least 30 grams of protein, 30-40 grams of carbs, and either a fruit or vegetable. I also drank 8 ounces of water every hour I was awake. Protein came from eggs, chicken, tuna, salmon, turkey, greek yogurt or whey protein. Carbs came from oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, whole wheat pasta or more fruit.
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High Intensity Interval Training
I've long been a believer in HIIT for weight loss. For those of you who may not know, HIIT involves alternating slower paced periods of effort with short, all-out max effort. I implemented HIIT in my runs. With 9 weeks to prepare for the event, I broke down my training into three-week phases and tested myself at the end of the third week of each phase.
I ran on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. Since I trained during the winter months, I had to change days a couple of times due to heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures. I did weight training throughout the process, but I really don't think the weights had much impact on my running.
Weeks 1, 2 and 3
Three minutes walking and one minute running. If the minute passed and I felt like I could still run, I kept going until I felt I had to stop.
After the first three weeks, I ran again, and this time I broke 40 minutes, finishing at 39:40.
Weeks 4, 5 and 6
Two and a half minutes walking and one minute running.
When this three-week phase was over, I tried to run the full distance again. This time I finished in 36:21.
Weeks 7, 8, and 9
Two minutes walking and one minute running.
This was the most taxing part of my training, but it was worth it. On the last run before my trip to Ohio, I finished in 34:43.
When I stepped on the scale at the event, I weighed 231 pounds fully dressed, which included extra layers due to the low temperature. After I got home, I weighed myself in shorts and I weighed 227 pounds. I wasn't counting on losing so much weight, but I wasn't complaining.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was the official starter for the event, and seeing him helped all the runners get psyched. I actually finished the first mile in less than 10 minutes. By the time I crossed the finish line, I had run most of the distance, spending only 30-45 seconds walking. I finished in 33:29. That was an improvement of over 11 minutes. Although I wanted to break 30 minutes, I was satisfied with my result.
If you decide to do a 5K and choose to follow this plan, hopefully it will work as well or better for you and you'll share it with your friends.
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