My first 5K (about 8 years ago), I was still overweight, I was slow, and I was definitely not feeling like a runner. My gym was sponsoring a benefit 5K for someone’s child who has some awful health problem — I don’t remember what it was — and I decided it would be the right thing to do to join in.
I had three goals:
- I will jog the whole race — I will not walk
- I will not come in last
- I will not die
I accomplished all three
I finished somewhere between 35 and 40 minutes — again, I don’t remember exactly — and was super-proud of myself for doing it and for meeting my goals.
While I don’t do 5Ks-a-plenty, I have gotten out and done one or two each year since then. I have completely changed my goals since then.
1. It is possible to race faster by walking portions of the race. I’m not sure how true that is for a 5K — I’ve only read it in terms of races like half marathons and marathons — but I’m guessing that if you did it right, sprinkling in a bit of walking could help your time. I have also come to accept (for now) that I am a flat trainer — that is, I train on flat ground. So if I do a race that has hills, I’m going to walk them. No use in spending all my energy just getting up the dumb hill when I could save it for moving faster on the next flat. (Yes, I know that training for hills would help this…)
2. I think 40 minutes is my slowest 5K time ever. And I did not come in last. I have seen people cross 5K starting lines with times well over one hour. If you have trained at all or are in anything remotely beyond completely out of shape, you’re not likely to come in last.
3. If a triathlon isn’t going to kill me, a little 5K isn’t going to kill me, and if my heart or a passing car decide it’s my time to go, well, my goal-setting isn’t going to help it much!
If you’re interested in running races but don’t know where to start, the Couch to 5K program is a good one. Over the course of 9 weeks, it gradually takes you from walking to jogging, from a short time/distance to 5K. It involves walking/running three days per week.
If you live in a metropolitan area, there are 5Ks waiting for you. If you don’t, I’m not sure what the availability is. I know that here in Phoenix, you could just about run a 5K every weekend year-round if you wanted to (fewer in the summer, but still not none). I like active.com for event-finding.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and do it! And if you need a little external motivation, register for one, then train for it.