About a year ago, the Reformer published an article I wrote about the importance of fitting exercise in to your daily routine. I titled that article "Make Sure Exercise is in Your Pill Planner," because I wanted to emphasize the point that having a good, regular exercise program is vital to your health. Today, I would like to dovetail those thoughts with some specifically focused on how to get ready to run or walk a 5k.
First, a few definitions and statistics. A 5k, or five-kilometer event, covers 5,000 meters, or 3.1 miles. The 5k is a very popular distance for running and walking events. According to the latest statistics from RunningUSA.org, there were approximately 15,000 5k events in the U.S. in 2013 with about 6.2 million finishers. Of those finishers, 58 percent were women (way to go, ladies!). And approximately 54 percent of all 5k event participants fall between the ages of 25 and 44, which means that nearly half are under 25, or older than 44. So age is not an obstacle.
Having stated these things, how does one get ready to complete a 5k?
A self-assessment would be a good place to start. No single exercise prescription is perfect for everybody. An exercise prescription would certainly be an excellent topic of conversation between you and your primary health care provider, one that they would surely love to address.
Having the right footwear for a 5k is important. For this purpose, a running shoe usually fits the bill. It is important that it fits well and feels good on your feet. It is usually well worth it to go to a store where there is a selection of shoes, to try on a few pairs and figure out what feels the best.
If your intention is to run a 5k, start gradually. For instance, an inexperienced runner may start by alternating running and walking for a short period of time, gradually increasing the percentage of time running. It also may be advisable to start by training every other day, which may improve cardiovascular and musculoskeletal fitness gradually with less chance of injury.
Warming up before going out and running by doing a light jog or some jumping jacks may also help prevent injury. Stretching may have its greatest benefit after a training session, since your muscles are likely to be more flexible after you exercise, rather than before.
While on the topic of injury prevention, make sure that you are wearing clothing that promotes your visibility. When you exercise on a road with traffic, make sure that you are on the side of the road so that you walk or run into the face of traffic.
And while running and walking can be a solitary endeavor, training with a friend can definitely enhance your ability to stick to a training regimen. Having a training buddy can help you meet your fitness goals while having more fun.
These are just some thoughts for starters. Whether you walk, run, or do some combination of both, I hope to see you at the Grace Cottage "Spring into Health" 5k on May 7, 2016. Go to our website www.gracecottage.org/events for more details and to sign up.
Dr. Moss Linder joined the Grace Cottage Hospital staff in 1997. He received his medical degree from the University of Vermont in 1991 and completed his Family Medicine residency at Oregon Health Services University. Prior to Grace Cottage, he worked as a family physician at the Acoma Cañoncito Laguna Hospital in New Mexico.