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Categories > Exercise and Fitness > Cardio/aerobic training

Ready, set, go! A running primer

Thinking about entering that charity fun run this year but worried about the distance? You can do it! The classic 5-kilometer distance, about 3.1 miles, may seem challenging. But it’s attainable even for beginners, and reaching the finish line may motivate you to make running a regular part of your fitness regimen. Running doesn’t require much time, expensive gear or a health club membership. Simply step outside and explore your own neighborhood or head to a local park or track.

If you’re a beginner, allow about eight to 10 weeks to work up to running three miles without stopping. Follow these tips to help you make your way to the starting gate:

  • Buy quality running shoes. You’ll need shoes with good support, not tennis shoes or sneakers made for fashion. You should be able to wiggle all your toes freely, and the shoes should feel well cushioned and comfortable right from the start.
  • Walk this way…then run. For the first week, walk for 20 minutes on at least four days. During week two, increase your walks to 30 minutes. The next week, try jogging for two minutes and then walking for four minutes. Repeat this jog/walk combination five times to total 30 consecutive minutes. Expect to feel some soreness these first weeks as you use and strengthen different muscles, but don’t push through actual pain.
  • Increase your running time. Each week, add one minute to your running time and subtract one minute from your walking time, still totaling 30 minutes. Don’t worry about your pace or intensity. Let comfort be your guide when increasing your running time and number of days a week you run, but don’t increase your mileage more than 10 percent each week. Soon, you’ll reach the goal of running comfortably for 30 minutes, the approximate time it will take you to complete a 5k distance. Now you’re ready for race day!

Whatever your reasons for entering—to improve your fitness, gain a sense of accomplishment or to support a favorite charity—you’ll find them all at the finish line. The community spirit and festive atmosphere surrounding these events are thrilling—and addictive. In addition to your souvenir T-shirt, chances are you’ll pick up an entry or two for future fun runs.