The 5K is doable. “What’s nice about the 5K is it’s a distance that can attract anyone and everyone. It’s a way for everyone to be a part of marathon weekend. Anyone can register the night before, show up, run and even enjoy the event,” says race director Scott Kerr.
Envision yourself crossing the finish line at the Gateway Plaza with 20,000 spectators, including your loved ones, with dance, music and celebration. Relish in your success when it’s over, but don’t stop there. Finishing a 5K could be a step to running longer distances— such as a half or full marathon later this year. If so, you’ll need some pointers.
Maybe you run best alone, or maybe you need some help. If your buddies are tied to the couch, try joining a running group like the Salt Lake Track Club. The $15 in annual dues is worth its weight in gold sneakers to have a support system. With more than 100 members, the club schedules runs—from four to seven miles—three times a week. Also, you can e-mail members for smaller meet-ups—at your pace, at your convenience. For aspiring runners, club president Evan Sanders has some simple advice:
“Just get out there. Start a running program and feel good about it. If you haven’t done anything in a while, begin and gain 10 percent each week. You’ll be in fairly good physical shape afterward.”
It’s important to set realistic, yet challenging, goals. Try the SMART formula: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. And, write them down. You’re more likely to accomplish a goal if it’s written— sign and date it, with a witness, too.
The “Couch to 5K” program (C25K.com) is a great starting point. The gentle balance of walking, jogging and running over several weeks gets anyone running for 30 consecutive minutes, enough to finish a 5K. If a half or full marathon are more appealing, peruse the Internet for training programs—like SaltLakeRunningCo.com—or consult with local professionals. Or, create your own easy and manageable plan, like running every other day and giving yourself a two-day break. Whatever you choose, stick to it. And, listen to your body: If it’s time to stop, then stop.
Many coaches challenge runners to run minutes, not distance, such as an hour-long run, not eight-minute miles. Before any race day, logging a couple of days where you exceed the race distance will boost confidence—like pushing for 15 miles before a half-marathon. Also, cross training—such as skiing, biking or swimming—works other muscles and keeps things interesting. Finally, watch what you eat. Training for any sport isn’t an excuse to indulge in cookies and cake. However, your body will need lots of fuel, so stuff your face with complex carbohydrates, like whole grains.
When training, it’s important to be safety oriented. Travis Hildebrand, general manager of Salt Lake Running Company, says, “If someone has to train in the dark, reflective gear and headlamps are almost a requirement. And, bright clothing doesn’t work at night, only at dusk and dawn.
“Also, it’s obvious, but dress according to the temperature and not the sun. It’s always a good idea to bring an ID, an emergency contact number and money with you, just in case.”
Running, unlike some sports, requires minimal gear. Above all, Hildebrand recommends wearing a lightweight performance trainer shoe, but, he says, “Not having the best gear isn’t an excuse for not running.”
Finally, if all else fails, music can be a muse to break that weary, foreboding feeling before pounding the pavement. Reggae, hip-hop or anything that moves you will get your blood pumping for a training session.
For more race information, visit SaltLakeCityMarathon.com.