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Tips to train for a 5K

Senior Wellness | Sep 10, 2015

If there has ever been a moment to become a first-time runner or get back into it after some inconsistency, retirement is it. Running on a consistent schedule requires dedication and a strong time commitment. You may have been getting in your weekly mileage while in your 20s and early 30s, but as you raised a family and had other commitments, it's understandable why your running may have dipped.

Before you start running regularly, you have to keep a few areas in mind. These areas deal with your age, health, prior experience and goals. Keep in mind that running puts a lot of stress on your knees and lower joints from the pavement pounding. Recovery times increase as you age, but with the availability of low impact exercises, you can stay the course of your running goals, such as completing a 5K.

"Running on a consistent schedule requires dedication and a strong time commitment."

Beginning steps
Before lacing up, talk with your doctor to ensure running is an ideal form of exercise for you. Discuss the benefits and potential injuries and how to best avoid them. If the doctor gives you the go-ahead, it's time to find the right gear. You'll first want to purchase a pair of running shoes, but not just any pair. Head to your nearest running specialty store because the staff is trained to analyze your movement, specifically how you stride and how your foot lands. The right pair of running shoes is important because it can help minimize the impact on your joints while still being light enough so you don't feel weighed down by the shoe.

When it comes to clothes, you don't necessarily have to get the most expensive shorts and top. While any old shirt and bottoms will suffice, you may be interested in gear designed to wick away sweat and comes with zippable pockets so you can store your key and driver's license. Finally, if you'll be running with music, find an armband for your phone or MP3 player.

Running for a 5K
A 5K race is one of the most common races held every year. In fact, these races have seen an increase in popularity in recent years for a variety of factors, according to Active. These races, which are 3.1 miles in length, are relatively easy to train for and push yourself for improvement.

However, you can't start out too fast when first training for a 5K, according to Healthways Fit. No matter your prior experience, you'll want to start off slow, both in terms of every run and when training. Trying to push yourself too hard too early in the training program will likely lead to injuries such as shin splints or tendonitis. Likewise, if you've never run before or have minimal experience, it's all right to alternate between running and walking. Once you start running more often, you'll quickly notice yourself taking fewer walking breaks, and before you know, you're running 3.1 miles without stopping.

"Training in your senior years should have a fun element to it."

Tips to keep in mind
Senior Running said training in your senior years should have a fun element to it. Don't think of running as a chore because negative thoughts may hamper your desire to train. Instead, identify a reason why you want to run. For instance, are you running and training for a 5K to manage weight, or are you training specifically to competitively race? To help you achieve these goals, have fun and push yourself, you may find it appealing to run with groups or a partner.

Likewise, you have keep your diet in mind. You have to maintain a healthy food intake to help your training and push you to the next level. Finally, listen to your body. If you're feeling unusually sore or a joint hurts, rest up before trying to push yourself. An underwater treadmill session can also help the recovery process, as it's a very low impact exercise.

With fall weather quickly approaching, the conditions are perfect to get into running.