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Ahh, spring. The time to leave behind the lazy, bear claw-eating days of winter and attempt to shed fat rolls before hitting the beach in July. Whether you’ve been working out regularly the last few months or putting The Dude from “The Big Lebowski” to shame, spring is the perfect time to set new fitness goals. And there’s no better way to get your ass in gear than to sign up for a road race. You don’t need to subscribe to “Runner’s World” and/or burn through a pair of New Balances every week to run a 5K. I just so happen to know someone who’s taking part in his first event of this kind in two months. Here’s the best part: he just started running last week. Sure, a 5K might not seem like much, but for someone who never runs, it can be a bitch of a workout. Wherever you are physically, a completed 5K is a great accomplishment.
So, you’ve done about as much running in the last few years as Paris Hilton’s read Dostoevsky. You don’t even own a pair of sneakers, let alone specially designed running shoes. Fear not, cardio noob. You can be 5K-ready in 30 days if you take the right approach.
Before you hit the pavement, you’re going to need the right gear. Lightweight, flexible shoes are a must if you want to avoid potential injury. Your shoes should have great arch support and you should be able to move fairly easy. Regarding apparel, you can throw on a T-shirt, but moisture-wicking material is best. And last but not least, bring a watch. You’re going to need it to time each increment in your workout.
Along with the right gear, you’ll need fuel, for your body, that is. Eat plenty of protein as well as fruits and vegetables. Five small meals interspersed throughout the day should do it.
Once you’re suitably dressed and fed, you’re ready to whiz down the road! Not. Don’t make the mistake many fresh runners make. You can’t go from 0 to Bill Rodgers (running legend) in a day’s time. In order to build up endurance, you’re going to have to break up your workout into timed intervals. For example, start each running session with a five-to-ten minute walk. Once you’re ready, jog for 60 seconds. After a minute, stop jogging and walk for 90 seconds, performing this jog/walk back-and-forth for 20 minutes. As the days and weeks go on, you can start to do more jogging and less walking.
There are many different ways to go from no-way to 5K. The folks over at Cool Running have a great Couch-to-5K Running Plan that’s pretty much standard for turning from a gelatinous blob to a regular runner in a month’s time.
Before you know it, you’ll be ready to tackle a 5K and even more strenuous road races. You can finally out what that whole “runner’s high” thing your buddies have beaming about all these years. It takes patience and determination, but it is possible to be road-ready mere weeks after ungluing yourself from your potato chip-crusted recliner.