On the Podcast a few weeks ago, we announced the DISDads Virtual 5K. A 5k is a 3.1 mile run/jog/walk. There will be a calendar window within which to complete a 3.1 mile run or walk (between Father’s Day and Labor Day), but you don’t need to run it at any particular pace. There are no sweepers on a virtual 5K race course. There will be an entry fee for the DISDads 5K, but completing a 5K run during the race window will earn you a special DISDads Virtual 5K medal (design in progress) and all proceeds will go to benefit a charity (voting on which charity we’ll be supporting with this race began yesterday).
WHY A 5K?
If you are in the, “I only run when I’m being chased by vicious animals” camp the idea of running a 5k may seem impossible. But that’s why a 5K is so great. First, you don’t have to run. And second, while some training will be needed, you should be able to complete most of the necessary training in about 30 minutes, three times per week. While the physical effort is one that most everyone should be able to handle, you should always check with your doctor before you begin any new exercise regimen.
WHERE SHOULD I START?
While a 5K is the shortest of the “distance” runs, it’s still a distance sane people usually cover by car. So if you’re preparing for your first 5K, you shouldn’t jump immediately to trying to run 3.1 miles. That’s a good way to get yourself injured and discouraged. Instead, you want to build up to 3.1 miles using a well-developed training plan.
I’ve put together a simple plan at the end of this post for your convenience. But there are also a lot of free couch-to-5K apps for both IOS and Android devices. You can also use the Runkeeper app (it has 5K plans in it too). In addition to a plan, Runkeeper adds a social component. A lot of DISDads are already using Runkeeper, so you can get encouragement from your fellow dads with every run. The common thread across all of the various training plans is build gradually, slowly and steadily adding distance to help avoid injury. (Not only do injuries hurt, but they can cause long delays in your training progress while you wait for them to heal).
Most training plans assume that you can walk briskly for 20-30 minutes. You’ll need to asses your own baseline to ensure that’s not too much for you to start with. To do an initial assessment, walk at a relaxed pace for 5 minutes. Then, increase your walk to a brisk pace for as long as you are comfortable. You should be able to talk comfortably while you are walking. The amount of time that you can comfortably walk while being able to carry on a conversation is your baseline. Begin your training plan by trying to walk for that baseline amount of time, during which you are able to walk briskly while maintaining a conversation, 3 days per week. Increase your walking time by 2 minutes every week. For example, if your baseline is 10 minutes try the following plan:
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Once you can manage a 32-minute workout, three times per week, you could switch to a regular couch to 5k plan, or you could continue to build walking time. For most people, a brisk walking pace is about 15 minutes per mile. If your goal is to walk the 5K, I would recommend continuing with two workouts a week doing 25 minutes of brisk walking, sandwiched between a 5 minute warm up and a 5 minute cool down. For the third workout of the week (which might be easier to do on the weekend than on Friday) take a longer walk. Increase the long walk by 3-5 minutes each week, building from 25 minutes to 30 minutes to 33 minutes to 38 minutes to 41 minutes and then 45 minutes. Once you can manage 45 minutes of brisk walking, you’re covering roughly a 5K distance at a 15 minute per mile pace. This simple plan will have you ready to walk a 5K in about 12 weeks.
If you want a more challenging plan, you can add run/walk intervals to your training. A good starting point for this is to repeat a cycle of 4 minutes brisk walking and 1 minute of jogging during the brisk walking period of your workout. As you get more comfortable, you can lengthen run intervals or reduce walking intervals.
Feel free to ask any questions in the comments here. I’ll try to collect questions that I get from other places as well and post them with responses in the comments as well. Many of us post our workouts in the DISDads Running Group Facebook Group – feel free to join us there as well for camaraderie and encouragement!