How to Become a Runner and Run your First 5K
If you want to become a “runner,” congratulations, you already are! If you can move your body, you are a runner. I love the Bill Bowerman quote and Nike mission, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” While the word “athlete” may be a bit intimidating, the concept isn’t.
You are a runner.
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Now that we’ve got that out of the way, you’ll need to figure out what type of runner you want to become. I’ve helped a few people realize they are “runners” over the years. Some have gone on to run longer distances, and some have simply been able to run around the block without feeling out of breath. Whatever your goal for running, make it something you can turn into a life long habit.
I think the 5k is the perfect distance to start with, so let’s start there. There is no shortage of races at the 5k distance, and you can likely find a cheap one close to home. The MN Brewery Running Series could be a great option since their races are pretty low key, and really fun!
Really, there are only three things you need to know right now:
Just Go Run
At its core, running is a pretty simple sport. In fact, you could probably go run right now, weather permitting. Grab a pair of athletic shoes, some comfortable clothes you don’t mind getting sweaty, and run for 10 minutes around your neighborhood. If that feels easy, keep going. Too hard, stop.
After a few weeks of running around your neighborhood, it should begin to feel easier. After a few months, you’ll find you can run much further and maybe even faster. This is essentially how I started running back in the summer of 1994. It was before my freshman year of high school, and my best friend and I decided we were going to join the cross country team. We showed up, and nearly passed out after running for what couldn’t have been more than 15 minutes. But, we persisted, and by the end of that summer, we were in tip top shape to begin running 5ks.
Find a Friend
Maybe it’s the idea that misery loves company, but I think any new undertaking in life is better with friends. Running is no different. Like I did, convince a good friend to join you for a run and set a time to get started.
If you’re really feeling adventurous, show up at your local running store and join their group run. If you feel out of place, tell people you’re new to this “running thing”. Runners LOVE welcoming in newbies. Just be warned, they will probably talk to you about running the whole time.
Get a Training Plan to Run your First 5K
We offer a great, free 5k training plan. But there’s no reason to complicate things; let’s keep it super simple.
After you’re able to run for at least 10 minutes without stopping, jump into the super simple plan below. If 10 minutes feels really easy, bump the times up by 5 minutes:
- Run 10 – 15 minutes at least three times
- Run 15 – 20 minutes at least three times
- Run 20 – 25 minutes at least three times
- Run 25 – 30 minutes at least three times
At the end of these four weeks, you should be ready to finish your first 5k. But remember, it may not be “fast”, and you may need to walk a little, but so what?! This isn’t about how fast you can run, just that you CAN run!
If you like the 5k, you can run another, then another and another until maybe, just maybe, you’re not walking at all. After you get a few races under your belt, you’ll be running four or five times a week, and doing many more miles. Maybe you’ll even feel like throwing some speed work in (nothing too crazy), and try to see how fast you can really fly.
Good luck and have fun!