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Want to run your first 5K?

With the cold weather and snow on the ground it’s difficult to see that spring is only a few weeks away. And the spring is a great time to start a running program. The weather is great for getting outside for a run – not too hot or cold.

Run a 5k this spring
Run a 5k this spring
Beginner runners graduate and ready for their first 5k

Running can be a healthy and fun way to stay fit and lose a couple of extra pounds for the summer as well. It is also one of the easiest sports to get involved in – you don’t need much special equipment or facilities – just a good pair of running shoes, shirt and shorts.

Although it’s still winter if you want to participate in a spring 5k event Now is the time to start thinking about getting ready! It takes some time to build up the necessary endurance.

Tuesday, March 11, 6 p.m. Beginner's Run Group, Wall - Spring Lake Area

Wednesday, March 12, 9:30 a.m. Drop and Run Training Group, Wall Area, Drop the kids off at school and run

Here are some tips to get started:

Get checked out - If you have not had a physical exam in a while it would be a good idea to get checked and ask your doctor if they have any concerns such as with medications or other issues.

Stop in a local running store and get fitted for a pair of shoes that are appropriate for your type of foot. Everyone is different – people have flat feet, high arches, pronators, supernators, etc. A knowledgeable shoe store can give you advice and make recommendations on the right shoe for you. A few of the stores at the Jersey Shore area include, Miles Ahead Sports in Manasquan, McLoone’s Running Store in Shrewsbury, Shore Runner in Long Branch, Runner’s high in Metuchen and Freehold and Road Runner Sports in Shrewsbury.

Start slow. Go out for a 20 to 30 minute walk a few times a week. Then gradually add in a few minutes of slow jogging with a period of walking in between. Gradually increase the amount of time that you run. Set some goals – jog to a lamp post, run around the block, increase the goals gradually. At first you will feel some aches and pains but over time your body will adapt. When running you should be able to carry on a conversation – if you are breathing hard and can’t talk you need to slow it down. Don’t run two days in a row – let your muscles adapt and recover.

Find a running buddy – running with someone makes the runs go faster and keeps you motivated. You can also go to a group run held by one of the local running clubs. The Jersey Shore Running Club hosts runs at various locations during the week. Just don’t get discouraged or intimidated when you first show up. As a beginner you may be in the back of the pack for at least a while – but many of the runners there also were in that position at one time .

Make a Routine – Try to keep up a routine and not get diverted from the routine. It’s very easy to come up with excuses – it’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s raining, I’m tired, its dark. Pick a time and days when you can run based on your schedule and stick to it. Keeping a log can also help. Meeting friends or a group on a regular basis also helps.

Be patient – it will take some time to get results. Don’t expect to be able to run a marathon in a few weeks or even a few months. Set modest goals: Run a Mile, Run Three Miles, Participate in a 5K, Run a Mile in 10 minutes. It may take a few months to achieve those initial goals. Don’t try and do too much. too fast. That will in many cases lead to injury and set you back and get you discouraged. Running a marathon may take a few years of training and time to allow your body to adapt.

Join a Beginner’s Class – A class can be helpful in getting started and to stay motivated. In Monmouth County a Beginner’s class to get ready to run a 5K is starting in March. The class is led by Karen Charles of Wall Township who is a Road Runner’s Club of America Certified coach, a sub 3 hour marathoner and has been leading these groups for over 5 years several times a year. The cost of the classes is modest and can give you a good start and a way to meet other people who are at a similar level.

And for Mom's there is a special group called "Drop and Run". Drop your kids off at school and then run. The group will meet every Wednesday morning at 9:30 am in the Wall area for a fun program. A great way to get in shape, meet some friends and have some fun after the kids are safely in school. Karen said, "I promise to keep the moms on their toes so they can keep up with their kids when they come home" - in her trademark British accent.

So just get out there. The hardest part is getting your foot out the door and taking that first step.

Here are some upcoming events to check out

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