Lisa Taylor, the Executive Director of the Traverse City Track Club, shares 10 tips to help you run your first 5K. Lisa has coached thousands of runners of all abilities since 1984.

Running is in the middle of a boom, with millions of folks of all ages picking it up as both a form of recreation, as well as a healthy way to get exercise. Many are also seeing it as a way to have a blast with friends, entering events that include things like running in costume then finishing with a few great local microbrews.

The 5K (3.1 miles) is the perfect distance to finish, with a training routine as simple as running three miles three days a week. (Racing to run a fast a 5K is a story for another time!)

Information about beginning a running program is right at hand, with tested online programs such as “Couch to 5K” from Josh Clark, and area coaches who have formatted programs to fit our local community, such as Traverse City Track Club’s PlanPeak program and Traverse in Training’s FUNdamentals.

If you’ve paid the entry fee and one of the area’s many 5K events is in your future, here are 10 tips to help you make that first 5K a great experience:

  1. Get to bed the night before. Partaking in heavy food and drink should be saved for after the event.
  2. Get up early to allow a light meal that sits well with your stomach. Examples include toast and juice, or a bagel and piece of fruit.
  3. Arrive an hour ahead of race time, allowing time to park, use the potty, and have some fun with friends at the start line.
  4. Know your limits. Line up at a place in the back so you are not tempted to keep up with the 5K “racers” toward the front.
  5. Start slow the first half mile, then settle in at your training pace for the 2 middle miles, then consider picking up the pace for the last half mile.
  6. Pace yourself by running with friends or new friends, and be sure you can pass the “talk test.” If you can talk while running, that’s a good sign!
  7. Smile when you cross the finish line! You’ll want a photo of your finish, a service that is available at most events, that’s available to purchase at the event’s website.
  8. Hydrate first with water; then enjoy the adult beverages or goodies available post-run!
  9. Keep moving! If the event has music, get the party started with some dancing! This will help you avoid extra post-run stiffness.
  10. Sign up for another 5K and keep your running going!

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