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Running Your First 5k or 10k

I remember when I first began the process of running. To run more than a few minutes let alone a mile in my thirties seemed insurmountable. In those early days, I would jockey back and forth between the 5 and three mph buttons on my treadmill, always fearful of flying off the back or being so winded I would fall over. I didn’t read any articles, buy any fancy shoes, or enlist the help of any running apps or software. I just knew I wanted to be able to run; to prove to myself, I guess that I could do this simultaneously simple but unattainable thing.

An advertisement hit my Facebook wall for a Color Run 5k which would benefit a local family’s medical needs. And so to challenge myself and also have that drive to help others I signed up. Nervously I handed over $25 for a t-shirt and the ability to run on the course, peppered with colored powder the entire way. I had no idea what to expect; I just knew I had a long way to go before that Start Line. In the next all too short weeks I pushed myself beyond what I thought I could have done previously, and yes finished that 5k. It was only after, when I sat for a quiet moment alone, looking down at the ground and my shoes that I wondered, “When can I do that again?”

It’s in this headspace that we send out this article, which is all about encouraging you (yes YOU!) in running your first 5k or even your first 10k. We reached out to several runners in our town who run short and long distances, and together list their top tips, advice, ideas and tricks learned from the countless hours spent pounding the pavement, hitting trails, or sweating on the treadmill; stuff we all wish we’d known before lacing up that first time. We hope you come to embrace running as a lifelong passion, as something that continuously challenges your abilities and promotes your health for decades to come!

Shea Lehnen - Personal Trainer - Peak Fitness

We reached out to Shea as she has been a local trainer, guide, and positive influence for so many in Douglas. She handed us her Top Five ways to get started in being more active and running:

5. Running is hard, don’t make it harder by forgetting to hydrate.
4. At some point something is going to hurt, could be your feet could be your lungs, could be your pride. Let it be and don’t let it stop you!
3. Everyone was born to run, don’t forget that! Everyone!!
2. Find a phrase that pushes you when you’re tired, “Persevere” is mine, some days it’s “Just keep swimming.” Use it!
1. Thank yourself, your body and your mind after every single run. They do wonderful things and deserve to be thanked!!!

Bob Winney - CSM, US Army - Retired

“Training for a 5K isn't that difficult for someone that is in at least halfway decent condition. If a person were to run/jog just one mile 3 times a week, they would be surprised at what that would do for their cardio condition. To run one mile, we're just talking about 10-15 minutes, three times a week, 30-45 minutes a week.” Noting the simplicity of running, Bob added: “Running is pretty simple, no special equipment or gear required. Just a simple way to monitor distance (and time, if that's important) and some running shoes.”

“The most important thing that one must have is DESIRE. Without it failure is imminent. Most of us don't run to win any races; we just run to be better than we were last time or to maintain our fitness to ensure a better quality of life,” Winney concluded.

Tom Holt - Director of Population Health - Memorial Hospital of Converse County

When rounding to Tom Holt for some ideas on the more social aspect on running he had this to say: “I have found 5ks and 10ks and ½ marathons are filled with lots and lots of people supporting their competing family members and all of the strangers around them. All of the races that I have participated in have spectators that cheer for all of the runners/walkers, and it’s less about competition and more about the experience.”

Holt, concluded: “So, if you’re new to 5ks or 10ks--- give it a shot, because we’re all out here to support our fellow runner/walker. You might surprise yourself and have lots of personal satisfaction, gratification, and fulfillment!”


In closing, from me (hi again!), I have found just even running thirty minutes a day helps with focus. We all have a lot of plates spinning daily so it can be daunting to try and squeeze in that time. Let alone, spend it running when every moment could be spent on something else for other people. It’s the working Mom mantra. But you may find even investing just twenty to thirty minutes will help keep you committed towards your long term goals for your health.

We’re all in this together. And the running community is diverse and welcoming. There is no such thing as a “runners body” or some type of checklist runners have to figure out if you can call yourself a “runner”. If you run, you’re a runner, congrats! Don’t get hung up on all of those litmus tests as sometimes in sports we can focus a bit on qualifiers before we call ourselves a participant. For 98% of runners it’s all about sharing the sport and helping others to realize their potential.

We sincerely wish you the best if you are considering taking up running or any exercise commitment. Of course, check in with your provider before taking on any regimen. Hope to see you out and about, and don’t hesitate to give a wave as you pass!