I Started Running At 46. Here's How I Trained For My First 5K

The most I had ever run before embarking on my first 5K training program at age 46 was maybe a quarter of a mile … and that was probably to beat someone else to a good seat at the dinner table.

So, to finally make a decision to at least give it a try was a big deal. Not being an ultra-endurance athlete and being a bit older, I at least knew not to go gonzo right out of the gate. I wanted to be successful, so I put some things into place to help ensure my running success. It took me about three months, but with steady effort and commitment I eventually ran for 3.5 miles non-stop and have picked my first event to run in.

If you've thought about taking up jogging, here are my best tips to get you started.

Before Your Run

1. Make the commitment to try and pick a 5K.

Timing is very important and most training plans will have you 5k-ready in about 8-12 weeks. Plan to spend around 10-12 weeks training and find a race near you that sounds fun. Start your training, and when you are about halfway through your racing prep and you feel committed, register for the event.

2. Put run times in your calendar.

To help you stay on track with weekly running commitments, place your running days in your calendar like you would schedule an appointment. Setting a 30-minute alert, gives you time to dress, stretch, hydrate and mentally prepare for your training.

3. Get a training app.

There are some great apps that will keep you on track. They talk you through the process and provide vocal cues on when to run and when to walk. This can be most helpful to keep you on track and running at the right pace.

4. Create a playlist in advance with at least a total of 45 minutes of music that gets you pumped.

You can search online and find great suggestions for upbeat, fast-paced tunes that will help you set your pace.

5. Fuel yourself properly.

Everyone is different, but it's important that you have energy during your run. For those who cannot stand to have food in their stomachs prior to running, you can have a fresh juice about 30 minutes before you start.

Fresh juiced, cucumber, celery, ginger and an apple will provide a great amount of nutrition and energy.

If you can handle some bulk in your stomach while running, pick food items that are easy to digest and not processed like an apple and sunflower seed butter.

6. Stretch.

Most of us don’t have time to do a full stretching session before we hit the pavement, but some basic stretching is important. Focusing on the shins, ankles and hips are great areas if you're short on time.

While on your back, warm up your ankles by rotating them in circles clockwise and counterclockwise 20 times on each foot. In a standing position, circle your hips around in both directions to loosen up the hip joints. Squatting and jumping help get things moving along too.

During Your Run

1. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Every day will be different depending on your mood, the weather, how you slept and your energy level. Once you start progressing to the higher levels of your training, it is OK to not be perfect every time. If you don’t hit a particular goal, discontinue the running app and just do your best. The next progression will always be waiting for when you are up to it.

2. Try to go one more minute or go faster.

As your confidence builds, or if you adapt easily to the training, you might consider adding on to your workout (or to what your app recommends if you're following one). Try running for an additional 30 seconds, after you'd normally start walking. Or, when you have 30 seconds before walking, you can increase your pace and beginning running a bit earlier.

After Your Run

1. Hydrate.

As soon as you finish your workout, drink water. Skip the processed energy drinks and drink lots of water. Since you'll be sweating more due to your training, plan on drinking more water throughout the day as well. If you did not have a juice or snack before your run, now is a great time to hydrate with that fresh juice mentioned above and have a light snack.

2. Celebrate your success.

After every workout, take a moment to celebrate your effort. Regardless of how far you went, what your pace was, or if you successfully advanced to the next level, take a moment to appreciate yourself for making the effort and for taking a step to establish a new healthy habit.

If you've been successful in your endeavor to establish a walking or running habit, please share your best tips for readers. Sometimes it's just one inspirational comment that can change someone’s life. Good luck!

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