How to Crush Those 3.1 Miles

The 5K. After that first mile, the 5K is the distance that many runners set their goal of completing. 3.1 miles may not sound like much next to say, 26.2 miles, but running a 5K can be hard for both newbies and experienced runners.

We spoke with Chris McClung, coach and co-owner of Rogue Running in Austin, Texas. Here are a few of his tips for running your first 5K.

Slow down! Your initial training should consist of easy walk/run sessions that gradually build over time. If you can’t speak in full sentences while you walk/run then you are actually going too fast. Set your ego aside. Slow down. This will put you in the right training zone to improve your running more quickly over time.

Be consistent. Consistency is the number one improvement metric when it comes to long-term running improvement. Commit to getting out there a certain number of days over a 4-6 week period, sore or not. If you are a little sore, then you need to run more than ever because movement = blood flow = healing. You will feel better once you get started.  Magic will happen as you accumulate running days over the course of weeks and months!

Add the one percents! There are important support activities to keep you healthy as you build your running duration and mileage. This includes post-run stretching, drills, self-massage, good sleep, and proper fueling. We call these activities the one percents because while they seem small and perhaps unimportant individually when you add them up, they will be game changing in keeping you healthy, strong, and injury-free in the long term.

Get the proper shoes. Shoes are meant to facilitate the body’s movement—not control or stabilize it. In other words, the body should do the work and not your shoes. I generally recommend finding a relatively lightweight, neutral running shoe that feels natural to you. After a certain point, you won’t notice the shoe when you run.. Try on 5-6 pairs and then choose the one that intuitively feels most natural to you.  Your feet don’t lie!

Find a coach or group. Nothing breeds accountability and consistency like friends and a coach to support you along the way. Find a buddy or group of friends to join the journey with you. It will make it easier to roll out of bed when the alarm goes off if you know others are waiting. Plus, a great coach can help you avoid the pitfalls of countless new runners who start a program and then drop off or end up with an injury.

After you’ve run a 5K, what should you eat? We’ve picked up a few important recommendations from Stephanie Darby, RD, LD at Celebration Nutrition. Take note!

Focus on protein and complex carbohydrates for recovery: Darby explains,“After a short distance, high effort run such as a 5K, runners should focus on protein and complex carbohydrates for recovery. Protein helps muscles recover and rebuild after a workout, making them stronger and preparing them for the next workout. Complex carbohydrates include whole grains and aid in replenishing glycogen stores for energy. Don’t go crazy and eat an entire pizza though! While you’ve exerted a lot of effort, the time spent is short enough that a regular sized meal shortly after your run should be sufficient calories for recovery.”

Don’t forget about hydration! Darby says, if you ran for less than an hour, water is fine. No need to get carried away by all the sports drinks, they have way more sugar than you need.

The best whole foods to aid in your athletic recovery according to Darby, are watermelon, black beans and nut butters!

  • Watermelon is refreshing and has a high water concentration. Plus it’s a high-glycemic carbohydrate for replenishing those glycogen stores.
  • One cup of black beans contains 15 grams of protein as well as carbohydrates and fiber. You will feel full and aid your muscle recovery at the same time!Nut butters! Our favorites! Peanut and almond butter are both great for pre-run fuel and post-run recovery. They are high in protein and fiber, all you need is a table to spread on a whole grain slice of toast, making for a great protein/carbohydrate combo! We can seriously eat this treat all day, every day!

Now that you have tips and tools to both prepare and recover, you are all set to crush your first  5K. You got this!