The year was 1995 and as a 9 year old, I vividly remember watching my older sister?s cross country team stretch, strategize different areas of the course and work on their sprints off the start line. The race took place only a few blocks from my house at the local city park and had I known what was in store for me that dreadful day I may of chosen to stay home. As I stood there watching them jump around like monkeys, I thought to myself, ?why do they think running is fun?? It was just my luck that at the very same moment that thought passed through my mind I noticed their coach heading right for me! As fate would have it, the team was down a runner and was in desperate need of a substitute. For a split second I thought I was maybe in the clear and possibly he was just explaining the unfortunate situation to my mother and I to relieve his frustration. Suddenly it hits me as my mother?s head slowly turns towards me, he wasn?t venting, he was asking permission!
I will never forget the peer pressure I succumbed to that day when she uttered those three words, ?want to run?? ?NO! PLEASE NO! NOT ME!? I screamed in my head and then out of nowhere I quietly muttered, ?sure.? As my mom drove me to our house conveniently a few blocks away to pick up my tennis shoes I sat there shaking my head in complete shock. ?What have I done??
The next thing I knew I was lined up like a row of ants at the start line listening to my heart beating like a drum from my chest. BOOM! The pop from the start gun nearly left me paralyzed but to my surprise my legs were moving! There I was right in the middle of this controlled stampede and I thought ?Ok, not so bad.? I?d strongly regret that thought with each step I took as my mood quickly shifted from ?not too bad? to ?I?m dying!? My legs were numb, chest burning and my face felt like it was going to explode! I started to wheezing, lost all control of my extremities like a wet noodle and the pain I was experiencing was like nothing I had ever felt before.
?Thank goodness!? I yelled, I could see the finish line! At that moment I finally understood what adrenaline was as I heard all of the fans cheering us on to the finish. Instantly the pain was erased and my mind pushed me into a dead sprint the last 100 yards. Once I finished I swore I would NEVER, EVER, run again!
I ended up placing 9th that day and eventually went on to run both cross country & track from middle school on through high school. Hell, I?ve even ran in two half marathons the last few years and at the end of the day, running is still a challenge with a bittersweet reward when you cross the finish. The atmosphere and adrenaline I felt that day was an experience that I personally fell in love with as an athlete and many reasons why I enjoy competing!
Here are some pointers to help you prepare for your first 5K race:
- Give yourself 2-3 months to work up to walking/running consistently for 30 minutes at a time. Below is a chart to follow to help you increase your cardio and stamina!
Week 1-2: Walk/Run 30 minutes total. Runners: Run 15 Sec/Walk 45 Sec. Rest 1-2 Day(s).
Week 3–4: Walk/Run 30 minutes total. Runners: Run 20 Sec/Walk 40 Sec. Rest 1-2 Day(s).
Week 5-6: Walk/Run 30 minutes total. Runners: Run 25 Sec/Walk 35 Sec. Rest 1 Day.
Week 7: Walk/Run 30 minutes total. Runners: run30 Sec/Walk 30 Sec. Rest 1 Day.
- Create a good warm up routine that gets your body moving before you run or walk.
- Track your runs/walks in a journal so you can see your progress.
- Eat healthy and drink plenty of water. This will aid in your progress and RECOVERY! 100 oz. a day at the very least!
- Go shopping! Pamper your feet with a new pair of New Balance or Asics running shoes. Look dapper in flashy new running clothes that will be comfortable to workout in.
- Use the ?buddy system.? It?s always more fun to run with somebody!
- Enjoy yourself!