By CAROL ZIMMERMAN
So you have decided that one of your goals for this year is to run a 5K. But where do you begin? There are a plethora of resources to guide you and many local races to participate in. Let’s not forget the many health benefits of running too.
When training for a 5K, you should start slowly. Also, you should consider getting your doctor’s approval or at least complete a physical activity readiness questionnaire (PARQ) available at http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/fitnessevalandassessment/qt/PAR-Q.htm.
Once you’ve determined running is safe for you, it’s time to lace up those shoes and get started. If you have never run before, trying a program like Cool Running’s Couch to 5K Running Plan might be your best bet. According to their website, http://running.about.com/od/racetraining/a/first5K.htm, the beginners' program outlined is less of a running regimen than a walking and jogging program. The idea is to transform you from couch potato to runner, getting you running three miles (or 5K) on a regular basis in just two months.
If you are already jogging/running but need help with a training schedule, http://running.about.com/od/racetraining/a/first5K.htm has some really helpful resources.
You have completed your training schedule and now you are ready to try your first race. Here in the North Country there are many races. There are a few websites for local races: http://www.northernrunner.org or http://www.crfanny.org. Both of these sites provide you with detailed information about local races.
Some races even raise funds for non-profit organizations. The 11th Annual Tour de Potsdam 5K Wellness Walk/Run supports the Health Initiative’s Access to Care program which provides assistance to uninsured and under insured county residents. The 3rd Annual Wounded Warrior Race will raise money that directly benefits soldiers wounded in battle in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Congratulations, you have completed your first 5K. Maybe you supported a local organization but you have also gained many health benefits. Some of them might include more energy, less stress, weight loss, greater bone density, lower blood pressure and cholesterol as outlined at http://www.medicinenet.com/running/article.htm. You might even have gained a few new friends.
Making the decision to run a 5k takes commitment and training, however it can be very rewarding physically, emotionally and socially. Good luck in completing your first 5K.
Carol Zimmerman is Healthy Small Business Specialist at St. Lawrence Health Initiative, Inc., Potsdam.