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Video:How to Prep for a 5K Race

with Jonathon E. Stewart

Training for a 5K takes time, whether you are a first-timer or a pro looking to drop your splits. Find out how to prep for a 5K run, and see what kind of schedule you should stick to so you're ready for race day.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Prep for a 5K Race

Hey guys - Jonathon Stewart here for About.com. So, you're thinking about running a 5 kilometer, or 5K race. Well, here's the good news first. 5 "Ks" are really only about 3 "miles." See, you're already nearly halfway there and you haven't even tied your shoes. But take a look at these training prep tips, and you'll be crossing the finish line in style. Check it out.

Before You Sign Up for a 5K Race

The most important part of training for any race is setting a plan. Find a race you'd like to run - the internet is a great tool here - and give yourself about 8 weeks to train, a little longer if you haven't run a step since high school gym class. It's also a good idea to invest in a pair of quality shoes designed for distance running. And don't be afraid to jog around the shoe store to see how they feel when you're actually in motion.

If you're brand new to running, it's probably a good idea to swing by your doctor's office for a quick checkup and to let her know what you're thinking of getting yourself into. Bring your mileage plan, and just know that more than likely, she's going to be excited you're taking on the challenge.

Create a 5K Training Schedule

If you and your doctor think you're good to run about a mile and a half on your first day, then stick to this schedule. Your week will essentially break down into three running days, three rest days, and one day to keep your muscles loose, simply by taking an easy walk. Start with a mile and a half for the first week, and up your runs about a quarter mile each week until you're going the full distance. Be sure get plenty of rest the week before your race, and also pay attention to your diet and drink tons of water during your entire training period.

Start a 5K Training Bootcamp

If a mile and a half seems a little out of your league at first, give yourself an extra 5-week boot camp to get up to speed. And don't worry, this boot camp doesn't involve fatigues or climbing over any walls. Start off your first week simply walking for 20 minutes the first three days, then for 30 minutes the remaining four days. If you're feeling good, start Week 2 by doing intervals of 2 minutes running, followed by 4 minutes walking, for a total of 30 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Week 3, increase your running to 3 minutes and reducing your walking to 3 minutes for each interval - again for 30 minutes total. Week 4, run 4 minutes, walk 2 - and Week 5, run 5, walk 1.

If you stick with this gradual buildup, you'll no doubt be ready to take on a simple mile and a half jog. In fact, you will have already mastered the discipline you need to do this thing, which is like 90% of the battle.

How to Drop Your 5K Race Time

Now, if you're already a seasoned vet and looking to drop your 5K time, you might consider doing some fartleks. Come again? Take a look: Fartlek is the Sweedish term for "speed play," and involves alternating intervals of fast and slow running. Start by setting discreet intervals for yourself - if you're on a track, you can use mileage markers - on the streets, use blocks, or even telephone poles - or, just set your watch.

After warming up for a mile or so at an easy pace, bring your speed up to about 80% - not quite all out, but much faster than you could normally sustain for 5K. Cover a distance of about 200 meters, a block, or 20 seconds, then bring your pace back down to an easy jog for another block or so. Repeat this fast-slow interval about 8 times or roughly two miles, then cool down with another easy mile. Incorporate this speed workout once a week in your training schedule, especially in the weeks leading up to the race.

But no matter how fast you finish your 5K, take pride in the simple fact that you've done it. Making a plan, setting a goal, and achieving it can be dangerously empowering - if you're not careful, it might just spill over into the rest of your life...

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