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5K Race Tips for Newbies & My Race Recap

running advice for 5k newbies text over a race start photo

So maybe you want to start running and have even thought about running a 5K but you’re intimidated.  I totally get it.  I’ve been there.

I hated running when I was younger.  Hated it.

I remember running in gym class and thinking about how much I wanted to reach 11th grade when there was no more P.E. class and I would not have to run any more.  An 8 minute mile?  I’m not sure I ever passed that part of the Presidential Fitness Test.  While I played softball and generally liked sports I never liked the running part.

In college things shifted a little.  For the first time I had access to a gym that was right across the street and I would run from time to time because I found that it helped me get some stress out but I never ran too regularly because I was busy with school and work.

I graduated a semester early from college and nannied part time while I took a break and tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  During this time I began to run regularly.  I still hated it but I loved what it did for my body and my stress level and so I did it.  I ran 5Ks, 8Ks, and 10Ks.  Not all the time, but just a couple a year to keep me honest.

And then I hit a stressful time in my life beginning in the Fall of 2008 and I stopped.  I completely stopped running.  For 5 years.  I began running again in 2013 but stopped shortly after becoming pregnant with my younger son because I was having bleeding issues.

Earlier this year I made it a goal to start running again as a part of an effort to lose the last of my baby weight.  I signed up for the Flap Jack and Jill 5K in February and just ran the race on Saturday.

flap jack and jill logo

I was scared, nervous, and excited all at the same time.  I nearly vomited walking from the parking lot to the race.

The weather was beautiful but hot.  So hot.  Seventy five degrees and sunny at the start of the race.  I ran slowly and even walked some.  I finished a full 4 minutes slower than my best practice time.

me, on race day

But I had a great time.

Everyone was in an upbeat mood and super encouraging.  The course was all along the Towpath and provided for some nice scenery.

And there were pancakes.

the pancakes being made

Incidentally I had to run to get my son from the babysitter so I did not partake in any pancakes.  But I did have my first Powerbar and it was tasty.

Running is not for everyone.  And that’s ok. The best exercise is the one that you’ll actually do regularly.

But if you’ve ever wanted to run a 5K and have just been too intimidated to try let me leave you with some advice that I’ve learned from my racing experiences.

  1. Use a training program for beginners.  This will give you some help in building up endurance and strength as a runner.  I like Couch to 5K.
  2. Get a running buddy.  This helps immensely and makes things more fun too!  You can even join a training team for some races.  The first time I ran the Monument Avenue 10K I joined the YMCA training team.  We met each Saturday to run for 10 weeks leading up to the race and they provided you with a training schedule for during the week.  See if the race you’re interested in might have a similar program.
  3. Invest in some decent shoes.  It’s a little pricey but I like to go to a store that specializes in running shoes and have the help me pick out shoes.  In training you put some miles on your feet and you want them to be comfortable and supportive.
  4. Find a race that excites you.  There are so many to choose from these days.  Find one that supports a great cause, has a fun theme, or a great course.  A quick search in goggle will help you find some races in your area that you can choose from.
  5. No one is judging you.  I used to worry that I would be too slow and looked “too big” to be a runner and that they would all know I wasn’t one.  Really, they’re all out to have a good time and focus on running their own best race.
  6. There will be some people walking.  If you are worried that you might not be able to run it all don’t worry about it!  I have seen people walking at every race I have ever been in.
  7. Position yourself near the back but not the very back.  When the race starts you don’t want to be in the front where the fast people are because you’ll get in their way and possibly get trampled but you don’t want to be in the very back especially if there are some people who will only be walking.
  8. Do a dress rehearsal.  I always try out my race day outfit before hand on a day with similar weather to make sure I’ll be comfortable and that nothing will distract me like a shirt riding up or a headband being too tight, etc.
  9. Run your own race.  Don’t worry about what anyone else around you is doing.
  10. Have fun!

Saturday was a hard run but it was fun.  I’m so glad I did it and I’m considering signing up for another race later this year in order to keep myself running regularly.

As for the scale, I did see some marginal loss this week (-0.8 lb).  Since beginning my Healthy Mama Challenge 7 1/2 months ago I have lost 12.2 pounds or 7.1% of my weight overall.

I have a few weight loss goals-

  • Get to a healthy BMI (0 pounds to go) Goal Reached!
  • Get to my pre-pregnancy weight (0.8 pounds to go)
  • Get to my pre-marriage weight (5.8 pounds to go)
  • Total Weight Loss Goal {Get back to my ideal weight} (15.8 pounds to go)

I hope that if you’re considering doing a 5K that this helps to encourage you.  I am by no means a running expert but I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about being a beginner runner.

running advice for 5k newbies


Friday 15th of May 2015

Look at you go!!!!!!!!! Awesome tips and awesome job!


Friday 15th of May 2015

Thanks, Leslie!

Lori Boutelle

Monday 11th of May 2015

I hated running when I was younger too! I dreaded the mile in PE. I run now to relieve stress & really enjoy it. Oh & your tip about starting near the back - so good!! When I ran my 1st 5k my mom suggested this & it was so helpful! Way to go!!


Monday 11th of May 2015

Aw thanks Lori! I'm glad I'm not the only one who hated that mile so much.

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Mary Martha Mama