1. Get Into Shape
The most obvious reason to run a 5K is to whip yourself into shape. Following a training schedule and being registered for a race can keep you motivated to hit the pavement several times a week. When you know that you have to show up for a race it holds you accountable to stick to your workouts. And training for a 5K does not need to be 8-weeks of strictly running, you can change it up a few days a week to incorporate another form of cardio, or try some light weight-lifting. I like to sign up for races when I’m in a bit of an exercise rut or not exercising at all. Having a race date on the calendar helps me not make excuses to skip workouts, plus I am working towards a goal which drives my motivation.
2. Run for a Good Cause
There are so many 5K races that support great causes. Signing up for a race that supports something you feel strongly about or that is close to your heart is a win win. And it is so much easier to push yourself through training and on race day when you feel inspired. I love using the website www.runningintheUSA.com to find upcoming races. You can search by area and narrow down the length of race you are interested in; and if you are looking for a race supporting a specific cause, this would be a great website to search.
3. Social Aspect
It’s actually pretty rare that I run a race by myself, I almost always ask a friend or my sister to do it with me. I’m definitely not saying that if you don’t have anyone to sign up with you can’t race alone. But having someone to talk about training with, maybe even doing some training runs together, and to stand with you before the race gun goes off can be pretty special. My favorite moment while racing with a friend is when one dropped the bomb that she was pregnant 2 minutes into the race. That was the easiest 5K I’ve ever ran, after screaming and hugging her we just talked about babies the whole time and the race was honestly a blur!
4. Finisher Goodies
Who doesn’t get excited to get some racing swag? As long as you are forking over money to entry a race, it is fun to get some goodies. For some of my past 5K race entries I’ve received shirts, long-sleeve shirts, socks, neck-warmer, cinch bags, and water bottles. And if you don’t really care about gear, maybe the finish line food will entice you; some races have very elaborate food lines. My hands down favorite 5K post-race treat was a free pancake breakfast. You wouldn’t think that pancakes, syrup, and sausage would sound appealing after running 3 miles…but it IS! Especially because the race was in Minnesota in the early spring (in other words 30 degrees with the wind whipping), the warm pancakes and coffee hit the spot. But not every race gives out goody bags, and that’s ok too. Like I mentioned earlier some races are for a great cause, so entering the race and supporting that cause is enough of a reward.
5. Sense of Accomplishment
There is nothing quite like crossing the finish line of a race, no matter how many races I run it always gives me such a sense of accomplishment and most of the time still gives me goose bumps. After training for weeks and months it is so satisfying to finish the race. Even if you don’t get the time you had hoped for or it didn’t go as well as you thought it would, the main thing is you finished. Not to get too sentimental here, but before and after every race I remind myself how thankful I am to be able to participate…because being healthy enough to finish a 5K IS an accomplishment, no matter what time you end up getting…there are a lot of people in the world that would love to have that ability.
Training for a 5K
Even though I consider myself a “runner” and have ran several races, including a full marathon, I completely understand the fear of training for a 5K and wondering if you and your body will be up for the challenge. For both of my pregnancies I hung up my running shoes for the entire nine months and focused on low-impact exercising. So add nine months of belly-growing, followed by delivery and healing from childbirth, I was no doubt starting from scratch. I still remember borrowing my mom’s Leslie Sansone Walking DVD and getting SO winded…from walking. If I can make a running comeback from that and finish a 5K without walking, you can too! I highly recommend following the Couch to 5K program, it really eases you into running. And if you download the app you can wear headphones and hear the audio cues that tell you when to “start running” and “start walking”. It’s an 8 week program and from my experience you can go from barely being able to run 1 minute to completing a 3.1 mile race.
I created a 5K training schedule printable so that you can write down the workouts you plan to do for 8 weeks leading up to the race; this blank schedule will work for both beginner and advanced training plans. Being prepared with a plan while training for a race is key! Plus seeing your training schedule all written out helps keep you motivated so you aren’t tempted to skip several workouts. Oh, and not to mention this printable is pretty to look at!