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The Complete 5K Training Plan for Beginners

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Complete 5K Guide for Beginners

Running your first 5k race can be daunting. Aside from the training that is required to prepare your body for race day, you have to consider what you will wear, eat, drink, etc in order to perform your best. Matt Lawrence, manager of Fit2Run St. Pete, and running expert created a cheat sheet on the ins and outs of a 5K plan for beginners. Check it out! 

Author Bio: 

Matt Lawrence has been running since he was 5 years old when he ran his first 5k with his father. Since then, Matt has achieved many personal bests and awards, like becoming a 2014 Indoor NCAA All-American. He coached high school Cross Country and Track for three years and during this time, coached 9 All-State athletes. He has personally raced every distance from the 800 meter to the Half Marathon with a personal best, 4:13 mile(1600 meter) and 1:52 800 meter.

Matt is currently training for a half marathon that he plans to do sometime early next year.

 

What products/items does a first-time 5K runner need for training?

 

First I would recommend having a few pairs of running technical socks. Ones that are moisture-wicking and cotton free, in order to reduce our risk of blisters. Blisters are an aggravating way to slow our training down. Cotton is rotten in the running world. Feetures and Balega are both great brands that I would recommend. 

 

Feetures socks

 

Secondly, I’d say the proper apparel. That doesn’t mean that you need to have the latest and greatest brand name shirts or shorts. I mean it more in the sense that we should have the proper material for our apparel. Something that is lightweight and breathable, also a material that doesn’t pool sweat so we can reduce chaffing or irritation to the skin. Women’s shorts/skirts are going to already be a good length to allow correct knee lift but specifically for Men, I would recommend training in 5” shorts. That gives your legs the ability to properly lift and extend through your running gait, better more efficient form will allow you to train much easier and also go quicker.

 

F2R Apparel

 

Lastly, you need proper recovery tools. As with apparel, you don’t necessarily need to most expensive recovery tools to adequately help your body recover. While there are some amazing higher-end options, you can still get great products to help reduce your injuries at a more affordable price. Pro-tec is a brand that offers lots of variety in its recovery tools. I’d highly recommend a small foot roller, like the Pro-Tec Orb. Personally, that’s my favorite. They have 2 different sizes and I think both are necessary. One is like 3.5” in diameter and the other is just a bit bigger. The smaller will be used on areas like the arch of your foot, your Achilles and to pinpoint sore spots in your lower back. The bigger orb will be used for your calf muscles, hamstrings, and quads. I prefer the Pro-tec Orb because it’s a ball so it’s more mobile than your traditional foam roller. I’m very big on body maintenance, I think of our bodies as high-end cars. Just as you need to get your oil changed, tires rotated, and axles realigned you need to maintenance your body in order to stay healthy and keep training. Especially someone who is just starting out and will probably become sorer because they’re doing movements that their body isn’t as used to. 

 

 

**If you’re looking for more recovery tips, tricks, and products, check out our Running Recovery blog!

 

What is your top tip for Race day for a beginner 5K runner?

 

Pack the bag! This is one aspect of running that I love talking about especially when I was coaching at the high school level. A lot of people will say they can just leave things in their car but never plan on having easy or quick access to your car at a race! Most times the start and finish line are far away from where you’re able to park. Personally, I use a Nike backpack, not a duffle bag that’s a bit too big. I have everything I need for the race in the backpack and I actually jog from where I parked my car to the start of the race. I can then drop my bag in a more secluded area and continue my warm-up. Or if you’ve got a group of people with you to watch they can hang on to your stuff.

 

 

Bag with product laying beside it

 

Your bag should have a few things in it every time you go to race:

 

  1. Extra shirt, for when you’re done running you can change out of your racing shirt into something clean and dry. We don’t want to sit around in a wet shirt, we can get a chill or cause some irritation to your skin.
  2. Long sleeve shirt. To my warm-weather state friends, this seems weird but it can be very important. You never know how the weather will turn, it could be colder in the morning before your race than you thought so it’s nice to have something to throw on. Or could start to rain or a little drop in temperature after the race and you’d like to have something warmer.
  3. Extra pair of socks. You just raced and your feet are soaked, it’s a really nice feeling to take off sweaty socks and put on a fresh clean pair. Reduce the chance of developing blisters.
  4. Water bottle. Most races have water stands there for you but it’s nice to have your own, so you can take a sip whenever you need. Or for me I personally really like Nuun instead of just water, I get more electrolytes that way.
  5. Granola bar/crackers. I like to personally pack a small snack in there for when I may get a little hungry. I am very particular about what I’ll eat on race day and sometimes that leaves me feeling a little less than full and I need something small and quick to get me through the race. And if I don’t need it for before I’ve now got a little something I can have right after I’m done racing. Granola bar/crackers are just an example, find what works for you. Bananas are really good too because they’re high in potassium which reduces cramping.
  6. Race day shoes. This will be a case by case item, not everyone, especially beginners, will have race day shoes, they’ll usually just race in the shoes they train in every day. Which is totally fine. But if you are someone who wants that extra advantage on race day and you’ve got a pair of faster racing shoes you want to pack those in the bag with you.
  7. Nutrition. Depending on the race distance you might be using nutrition products to get you through, gu gel, clifblocks, honey stinger gel or chews, etc. You’ll want to have all those with you so you don’t need to be going back to your car to grab them.

There’s always going to be specific items that you as an individual might need that others wouldn’t so pack accordingly to your needs. i.e inhaler, EpiPen, allergy medicine or if you’re racing in a cold-weather state you might want a stocking cap or gloves. The items I mentioned are a good starting point for any runner for any race. You want to remember to not go overboard so learn what your race day needs are and pack for that.

 

How do you stay consistent and motivated throughout the training process?

 

This is really going to come down to each person and how they keep themselves motivated. I wish I had an answer that would work better but we all do things for different reasons. However, with any training cycle, I find it best to envision the bigger picture. I know that each day I’m training, I’m building for the next day and next day and so on. What can I do today to better prepare myself down the road? Because in running you’re not always going to feel good. There will be days you have to drag yourself out the door just to get a run in but you’re ultimately working for a race that’s weeks or months down the line. So remember why you’re out training. 

Also, remember that one bad day is not a reflection of your current fitness. I’ve had days where I feel terrible yet I got a full night’s sleep and had a great morning breakfast. And there have been plenty of days I’ve felt sore, tired and all in all not my best but have had great runs and even races. Personally, I have no issue getting myself amped up for workout days, I love them. I get to physically push myself to a max limit, to me there’s a lot of joy in finding how hard I can work my body on a given day. The days I struggle with motivation are easy runs and long run days. They’re boring to me, no excitement just out there pounding the pavement. So those are the mornings or nights I have to remind myself that if I want to do the “fun and exciting” workouts I have to do the boring building runs or I won’t get anywhere. It was a constant struggle for me in college so I used my teammates on those days to keep me going to help push me 1 or 2 more miles on an easy day when all I wanted to do was be done running.

 

 

 

Florida Turkey Trot


Are you local to the Sarasota/Bradenton area and want to start training for a 5K? The 2021 Florida Turkey Trot presented by Publix at Nathan Benderson Park is the perfect race to register for! Part of your Thanksgiving Tradition, the Florida Turkey Trot is a festive Thanksgiving Day 5k that is complete with cold beverages and sweet treats! Start your training now and register for the Florida Turkey Trot. Make it a part of your Thanksgiving tradition!

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