5 Tips to go from the couch to running your first 5K
Brian Tracy said “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
Moving out of your comfort zone is the most challenging thing to do as a human. I mean it is called the comfort zone for a reason, right. But, in order to make the changes in our life and body we need to step outside of the comfort zone and embrace the suck. We need to be willing to feel awkward, uncomfortable, and out of place in order to grow the most. Sometimes you just need to embrace the darkness in order to build the athlete that lives inside you. The following are 5 tips I have personally used in order to get myself off the couch and to the starting line of my first 5K.
The Why: Why does something as simple as walking cause such huge results in someone starting from very minimal exercise in there life. Walking is a low impact activity, meaning you can do it at all ages, health levels, and injury levels. This study done by Sarah Hanson and Andy Jones concluded that "Outdoor Walking group have wide-ranging health benefits including reducing blood pressure, body fat, total cholesterol and risk of depression." This shows that an act as simple as walking can have drastic benefits on your mental health as well as your physical health. So go out there and walk. Find a friend or family member and just walk for 30 extra minutes a day and slowly build up higher and higher and watch for body and mind slowly shift into a better version of you.
My Experience: My experience with including walking into my daily routine has been tremendous. Its not always easy or fun to go out there and walk, when you have so much work on a day or you are just in a blah mood and do not want to walk. But, if you can just get yourself up and out the door, whether with music or without maybe with a friend. You will start moving our body and mind will start to crave the walking. You start to use the extra time to think about goals you want to pursue and the steps you need to take to make those goals a reality. Walking is truly one of the best supplemental ways to start your weight loss and 5K journey.
Example: Going out on lunch and walking for 20-30 minutes. Take your meetings walking to add those extra steps in a day. Wear a watch that tracks your steps and take a weekly average before you start walking, then try to double those steps for a week and see how you feel.
Allow your body to rest
The Why: Rest I know such a simple topic and tip but yet probably the most important tip I can give you on the list. Rest is crucial to the body ability to preform muscle recovery. Without adequate rest and sleep our body is not able to repair the muscle fibers and we risk the increase chance of injury occurring. In the study "Relationship between sleep and muscle strength amount Chinese university students: a cross-sectional study" it concluded that the adequate sleep period for optimal muscle recovery growth is 7-8 hours. Prioritizing sleep can lead to increased muscle growth and better recovery in your muscles. But, sleep is not the only way you can rest your body. Proper recovery methods can also lead to increased recovery in the muscles. Whether it is from heat or ice compress, muscle scraping, foam rolling, to just the simple method of stretching properly recovering your body is important wen you are just starting out.
My Experience: What I have tried to do in my training is to try and get a set time I wake up at, so say I am aiming to be waking up at 6am every morning to train. I then know in order to have proper rest I need to be in bed asleep between 10pm-11pm the night before to fall into that range of sleep. In order to supplement this I try to limit by blue light exposure an hour before I am ready to fall asleep. That means no phone an hour before bed to allow the body to properly produce melatonin. During the wind down time this is the perfect time to stretch and use the ice to allow the muscles to recover. Using this hour before bed to not only eliminate the blue light but also work on stretching and the other recover topics outlined is a time saver for those that have a busy life. Just because we are busy does not mean we can't make time for things that are important to us. If getting of the couch and getting towards a goal is important to you then prioritizing resting your body can be a crucial component to keep you on track.
Example: Foam rolling for 20 minutes at night. Alternating ice and heat on sore muscles every 10 minutes. Static stretching and dynamic stretching at night for 20-30 minutes.
Properly fuel your body
The Why: One way to supplement your training is nutrition. Nutrition is going to have multiple impacts on your road to running your first 5K. I'm not going to give you nutrition advice, but properly fueling your body is going to lead to both weight loss or gain and gives your body the proper nutrition to heal and recover. When it comes to diets there is a plethora of them out there ranging from carnivore, keto, paleo, vegetarian, high protein, to vegan. Everyone's body is going to respond to nutrition differently. What might work for you isn't always going to work for someone else. The body is fascinating with how it reacts to different foods for each person. So play around with different diets and meals plans, see what works best for you and fuels your workouts the best. Use nutrition as the fuel for your body to push through the next workout.
My Experience: I have tried a ton of different ways of eating. Some of them have worked but put too much stress on me to adhere to such a restrictive duet that the mental issues it was causing were out weighing the benefits. So, take the time to do your research on each way of eating and see what appeals to you. Then find your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) and calculate your daily caloric intake from there. Then I would download a food track like, MyFitnessPal to help track your calories and macros. Once you have all of this done here comes the fun part, messing around MyFitnessPal to set up your calories and macros for the week or day. This will allow for you to not worry about over or under eating your calories as you know what you can and can't eat per your structured plan and your set calories to either lose or gain weight. Another large component is that allow yourself to have that one cheat meal or that one dessert you want. If we restrict ourselves 100% of the time we will binge back to what we were doing before we decided to take this journey to running a 5K. So, allow yourself to have what you want in moderation.
Example: Typical day for me on a lower hunger day is:
Meal 1: 2 pieces of Ezekiel bread
2 TBLS Natural peanut butter
3cups of black coffee
6TBLS of Creamer
Meal 2: 1/2 cup Asparagus and white onion
1 bell pepper
6oz Chicken breast
5.5oz of sweet potato fries
3TSP of Vidalia onion and Georgia peach hot sauce
Meal 3: 2 Vital farms eggs
1 cup egg whites
3 slices of turkey bacon
2 cup shredded hash browns
Marco Total for the day:
Get on a program that fits your goals
The Why: With the internet being around there is unlimited access to information. With one simple google search you can find whatever you are looking for. That being said when it comes to figuring out what program works for you I suggest, just doing the research. With one simple google search of "Couch to 5K 12 week plan" 10 different programs and training schedules come up. So, just look into each and everyone that peaks your interest and see what works best with your daily routine and your timeline goals. Personally I use Training Peaks which has thousands of training plans with all different ways to monitor your training goals. But, getting onto a training plan to help structure your training will do wonders for your self-confidence as well as being able to stay on track when you know what your next workout is.
My Experience: My experience in my current training block has been up and down. Not every time you set out to do something is it going to go smoothly. One day you are training hard the you get sick and are out for a week or one day you are training then you get a shin splint and you have to take the time off to heal or risk breaking your shin. Every time we train we take that risk but the health benefits and the benefits you get when you are healthy are always going to outweigh the negatives. You do not want to go to Disney with your family and not be able to walk the whole time or have to stop you family because you are overweight and decided not to do anything about it. Sometimes just starting is the best action to take.
Example: Training Peaks 12 week program for a 5K, using Heart Rate as a primary source of intensity level monitoring. Trying to keep 80% of the training in the aerobic stage to build up the mitochondria to run harder and faster.
Pick a Race
The Why: Now, why would picking a race be a big tip. Well you see, if you pick a race to run in then it means you have an end in mind. On a specific date, at a specific time you will be at the starting line ready to run your first ever 5K race. Whether you trained or ate properly or not, you have paid your entry fee as well as gone to the athletes meeting the day before. You are signed up to run that race. Signing up helps motivate you towards your goal. It pushes you to try harder in that one run that you didn't like the day before or if you don't want to meal prep and want to eat McDonalds that night but you realize your race is in 2 weeks. Having chosen a race helps keep you accountable and focused on that end goal of getting off the couch and running your first 5K.
My Experience: Picking a race is tough, there is a lot to choose from. You have your local race, big races, fun races, or destination races. Picking one that best fists your budget is what is going to be best for you. Choose one that has the 5K and that fits within your budget for you.
Example: I have signed up for the Gate River Run which is a 5k run local to Florida race. Setting a time up for me to run gives me the motivation to eat, train and recover properly.
In Conclusion, getting ready to run your first 5K is an exciting adventure. From deciding to get up off the couch and choosing to be healthier for yourself. But, it is also a daunting task to run a 5K for someone who hasn't exercised in a long time. I hope these 5 tips have helped you on your own journey to running your first 5K.