During the summer, our team here at Austin Benefits Group will be participating in a monthly 5k series as part of our corporate wellness program. After being cooped up all winter and during this rainy spring, we are all ready to get outside and get moving! Some of the 5ks we have planned benefit local charities, because why not get outside, get in shape and help local causes all at the same time? No one could ever accuse us of not multitasking…
Up first is the Horizons Upward-Bound 5k; HUB works to prepare metro Detroit students with limited opportunities for entrance and success in post-secondary education – a worthy cause for us to devote our sweat for the month.
As a mixed group when it comes to fitness, we’re all on different pages when it comes to an event like a 5k. So, in an effort to help prepare our team and avoid injury and help get us all in a healthy, prepared mindset, we decided to do a little research on proper 5k training.
Since this is our first 5k for the summer, we’re offering training tips for beginners.
Off we go!
Before a run
Stretching is an important part of all exercises, and not just afterward. Stretching before running wakes up your muscles and helps ensure you don’t injure yourself. But did you know there are two types of stretches? There’s dynamic stretching and static stretching: Before a run, you should do dynamic stretching and, afterwards, you should do static stretching.
- Dynamic stretching: Exercises such as high knees, butt kicks, walking lunges, straight-leg kicks, etc. These are motions that both stretch you out and get your blood flowing.
- Static stretching: Techniques that stretch muscles while your body is at rest, usually holding a position from 30 seconds to two minutes.
Make sure you don’t jump right into running, walk briskly for a few minutes until you feel ready to move faster – warming up helps ease your muscles into the exercise, working to avoid injury.
If you’re new to running
At first, it’s better to focus on the time you spent running, not how far you go. Once you get into a better cardio shape, the distance will come. So, focus more on running for 5/10/15 minutes at a time, rather than running a mile without stopping.
Pay attention to your pace – take it slow and steady. It’s better to run a bit longer and build endurance, rather than going too fast and burning yourself out. Tip: An easy way to tell if you’re running at a good pace is to check your breathing – if you’re not gasping for air and could talk while you’re running, you’re going at a good pace.
Also, don’t be afraid to walk. Alternating running for five minutes and briskly walking for one or two minutes can help you run for longer and not burn out or cause an injury. Particularly as you begin training, these intervals will help.
After a run
When you’re done with your run, make sure you cool down by walking until your heart returns to a normal pace. This is also the time for static stretching – focus on your legs by stretching your hamstrings, quads, hip flexors and IT band to help prevent muscle tightness and injury after running.
What to do on days you’re not running (because rest days are important)
Do some strength-building exercises and go for a walk. Working on your core and arms can help increase your overall fitness and get you stronger and fitter for running; and walking will still work your legs and help them recover from training.
Tag @AustinBenefits on social media to share your own 5K training tips and experiences.
Wish us luck in our first 5k! We’ll check back in a few weeks to update on our progress as we gear up for our second race.