You guys, I did it!
I ran a 5K race the other week, and I totally didn’t even die!
Although I did become deathly ill for about a week, but that’s another story, and I’m sure that totally won’t happen to you if you decide to run your first ever 5K after reading this very inspirational post telling you that you should run your first ever 5K.
Just to clarify, this wasn’t actually my first ever 5K. My first ever 5K was about seven years ago in Japan after my friends peer pressured me into signing up for one by telling me I’d get a free t-shirt.
That didn’t happen. Instead, I got a free box of frozen fish.
I’m sure that totally won’t happen to you if you decide to run your first ever 5K. Unless, you know, you live in Japan. In that case, you might want to clear out your freezer for your free box of fish.
Even though this wasn’t my first ever 5K, it definitely felt like it was, as I haven’t run a race of any kind in about five billion years.
So, in case, you too would like to run your first ever 5K (or your first ever 5K in 5 billion years, like me), I am here to help!
10 Things You Should Do to Run Your First Ever 5K (And 1 Thing You Really Shouldn’t)
Thing #1: Stop worrying about what other people are going to think about you.
A few months ago, I read this article about women worrying about being laughed at while working out. According to the article, some women are even so worried about feeling judged they’ve taken to running on treadmills in their garden sheds.
There was definitely a point in my life when I never, ever, ever would have run a race of any kind in public for fear that people would stare and laugh and point at me for being the slowest/fattest/sweatiest/red-facedest person in the race.
And then I moved to Asia.
And while I definitely got over a lot of my insecurities about running in public while living in Asia, I still felt a bit nervous about signing up for this race. It had been a long time since I’d run a race or even run at all. I was pretty sure I was going to be the slowest/fattest/sweatiest/red-facedest person in the race.
And then I started working out at the student gym on the campus where I work.
I have found that being approximately twice the age as the majority of my fellow gym-goers has made me a lot less self conscious. According to them, I’m practically ancient. I might as well be slow/fat/sweaty/red faced, too.
Plus, none of the students even make eye contact with me at the gym for fear that they might have me as a professor next semester.
They pretend I don’t exist.
I pretend I don’t look like I’m about to hyperventilate. (Even though I totally do.)
And we’re all good.
Thing #2: Sign up for the race already.
This is kind of important. I don’t think you can actually run in the race unless you’ve signed up for it.
Plus, once you sign up for a race, I believe it’s technically impossible to back out of doing the race. In fact, it might be illegal.
If you sign up, you’re just going to have to do it. Either that or go to jail. Your choice, really.
Thing #3: Peer pressure a whole bunch of other people into signing up for a race with you.
As I mentioned before, I signed up for my first ever 5K because my friends peer-pressured me into doing it by promising me a free t-shirt.
So, of course, the first thing I did after signing up for this past 5K was to start peer pressuring everyone I knew into signing up for the race. And, of course, promising them free t-shirts.
It’s the Circle of Life, you guys.
Thing #4: Download ALL THE APPS.
Hey, guys, remember waaayyyy back before smart phones and apps when if you wanted to do something, like, say, run a 5K, you’d actually have to sit down and research and figure out how you were going to do it?
Well, no more, my friends!
Now, you can get an app to do all of that for you!
I loved the Couch to 5K app that I used. It not only mapped out when and how long I would have to run each week, but a little robot voice would even tell me to start running during each workout. I’ll do pretty much anything if a robot voice tells me to do it!
Also, remember waaaayyyy back when going running meant that you had to spend like a billion hours every couple months agonizing over the perfect playlist for your iPod, so that you weren’t stuck trudging along to the Christmas music you put on your iPod for that holiday party you threw last year.
Well, those days are over, too, my friends!
Because you can download like a billion different streaming music apps, and all of them have at least a dozen different upbeat music stations with catchy names like Cardio Beatz and Pump Up Jamz.
I use Slacker Radio, which is free, but I pay a couple bucks a month for the Plus service, so I can use it offline when I’m running out of wifi range. Plus, they’ve got all the Taylor Swift hits a girl could ever want. And trust me, I WANT.
Thing #5: Buy yourself some cute running clothes.
It is a fact proven by science that cute running clothes will help you run a lot faster than those five-year-old running pants that are falling apart at the seams and that free t-shirt that you got at a conference last year.
And by “proven by science” I mean “proven by me.”
Thing #6: Start training waaaayyyyyy before you probably need to start training.
According to the c25K app that I used, my training program was only supposed to take two months.
I, however, started a little over three months in advance.
This allowed me a little extra time to get in shape. Which, frankly, I needed.
It also allowed me to repeat a few weeks along the way when I felt like I hadn’t quite “gotten” that week’s workouts. (aka I almost hyperventilated.)
Thing #7: Start running outside more than a month before your race.
I started training for my race by running on a treadmill. Because it was winter. In Michigan. And, you know, I like to keep my face from freezing off my head.
I eventually switched to running outside about a month before my race when the weather warmed up. And that’s when I realized that running outside is a looottttt harder than running on a treadmill because when you run outside the sidewalk doesn’t magically move beneath your feet. Funny that.
My first couple runs outside were brutal. I really didn’t think I was going to manage an entire 5K outside, and even contemplated dropping out of the race.
But that’s illegal, remember? And I don’t think I’d do well in jail.
Thing # 8. Pick up your race gear. Start to hyperventilate a little because you’re really going to do this thing.
OHHHHHH MY GOD! HOW IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING??? WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS GOING TO BE A GOOD IDEA? HUH??? HUH???
But, hey, look, FREE T-SHIRT!
Thing #9: Do this thing. Don’t die.
I know a lot of runners who have time goals for their races.
My only goal for this race and every race I’ve ever run was to run the whole thing and not die. (And, to be honest, I have a pretty loose definition of what counts as “running.”)
I ran pretty slowly and, yes, I was fat and sweaty and red-faced, but I wasn’t the slowest or fattest or sweatiest or red-facest person in the race. In fact, what I loved about the race that I ran was that there were people of all shapes and sizes and ages and fitness levels participating.
I also loved the fact that there were crowds of people along the race course cheering us on with funny posters and noisemakers.
There was even a lady in a chicken costume giving us high-fives. And once you give a high-five to a lady in a chicken costume, you know that you have to finish the race and not die.
I mean, FINISH FOR THE CHICKEN LADY. SHE DESERVES THAT MUCH.
Thing #10: Pick a running buddy.
When I run a race, I like to pick a new running buddy to run with so I don’t feel so, you know, lonely.
Of course, my new running buddy has no idea that we’re buddies. Probably because we’ve never actually met before. I just pick someone out of the crowd who seems to be going at about the same pace as me and I stay behind them for the whole race.
Until the very last leg of the race, that is, when my new running buddy becomes my RUNNING ARCH NEMESIS.
That’s when I act like my running buddy and I are the only two people in that race, and I speed up and haul myself to the finish line, leaving my so-called buddy in my dust.
Thing #1 That You Really Shouldn’t Do: Check the official race photos.
Hey, guys, remember waaayyyy back when I crossed the finish line and I felt like I’d just won the Olympics when the only thing I’d really won was a free banana and bottle of water?
That was a fun feeling.
And it lasted approximately two days until I made the mistake of checking out the official race photos online.
And that’s when I discovered that the only picture of myself was this one:
Do you see me back there? I’m the one getting completely and totally smoked by the older lady WHO DOESN’T EVEN LOOK LIKE SHE’S RUNNING.
I’m sure that totally won’t happen to you if you decide to run your first ever 5K, though. Unless, you know, you’re ridiculously slow like me and you also have a pretty loose definition of the word “running”. In that case, you might want to prepare yourself to get smoked by a few older ladies.
But, hey, whatever, FREE T-SHIRT!
Have you run a 5K? What advice would you give to someone running their first ever 5K?