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Beginning runners who want to compete often start with a 5-kilometer race. At 3.1 miles, it's short enough that any moderately active person can train in a month to complete one. Use a track or path with marked intervals or map your own course by measuring distances in your car. Train five or six days a week, but allow at least one full rest day every week. Always stretch and warm up before you train.
Walk 10 to 20 minutes a day for the first week. Mix in short jogs once you can walk a mile at a brisk pace. Alternate walks and jogs -- walk 10 minutes, jog for one, and repeat. Work 20 to 30 minutes and cover at least half a mile a day by the end of the week. Finish workouts with a brisk walk to cool down.
Increase the percentage of jogging time as you start your second week, until you can jog at least half a mile without stopping, then switch from jogging to running as your endurance increases. Work up in intervals. For example, run for 50 yards, jog for 50. Gradually increase the length of each running interval. Cover up to a mile a day in total distance.
Work in a day or two of cross-training, bicycling, swimming or other aerobic activity, to change your training pattern in the third week and continue in intervals. Run for a mile, then walk a half mile. Increase the run length a bit every day until you can run 2 miles total. Do a "long" run, perhaps a mile and a half, the day before your rest day.
Run a mile the first day of your fourth week. Do a half-mile walk before and after your run. Do an easy workout the second day, alternating walking and running for about 2 miles. Run 3 miles the third day, alternating with a mile run and half-mile walk. Do another similar 3-mile workout one more day of your fourth week.
- Rest on the day before your race and eat a dinner of pasta or other carbohydrates the night before.
- Walk a bit if you tire during the race.
- Get a physical examination before you start training, buy a good pair of running shoes and find an appropriate place to work out.