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Couch to Finish Line: How to Run a 5K

If you’re looking to get active or switch up your workout routine, running is a great option. It’s easy to get started and comes with plenty of benefits. It can be done just about anywhere, with very little equipment and by yourself or in a group. No matter how you do it, running may help you lose weight, feel more energized and feel less anxious. 5Ks are a great goal to work towards because they’re 3.1 miles and runners and walkers of all skill levels participate. Check your community events to see if there are any you can take part in—be sure to check with your doctor before starting a new workout first.

Getting started
All you need to start running are comfortable sneakers, comfortable clothes and a safe place to run. It’s recommended you wear running shoes instead of regular sneakers since they’re designed for the extra impact and are typically lighter than other shoes. What clothes you wear depends on what season you run in, but the most important part is to be comfortable and visible. Wear bright colors and/or reflective gear so cars, bicyclists and pedestrians can see you clearly at any hour of the day. If it’s warm, you may want to wear light clothes that keep you cool. If it’s cold, you may want to wear some layers, a hat or gloves if necessary. Use your best judgment: see how your body is feeling and know that once you get running your body will heat up.

Running checklist

  1. Run on clear paths. Sidewalks, tracks, smooth trails and treadmills are all good choices. Trust your instincts.
  2. Tell someone where you’re running. Keep your ID, medical insurance card, some cash and a phone on hand.
  3. Watch out for cars, bicyclists and pedestrians. Don’t assume you are seen or have the right of way.
  4. Don’t listen to music. Being able to hear will help you know what’s around you.
  5. Stretch. This will help you avoid injury.
  6. Try not to run at night. If you do, run in a group while wearing reflective gear and lights.
  7. Stay hydrated. Be sure to drink before and after the run, too.
  8. Wear sunscreen regardless of the weather. Your skin is exposed to the sun’s rays even on cloudy days.

Make a plan
It’s a good idea to give your body time to build up endurance before the race. Start out small and run what you’re comfortable with and gradually increase the distance over time. It’s okay if some days it’s harder to run than others—the important thing is that you run regularly. If you need motivation to stick to your plan, Standard and Basic Option members may be eligible to earn rewards for getting steps in with the Online Health Coach. When it’s race day, don’t push yourself too hard—walk if you feel like you can’t run anymore. Once you’ve finished the race, celebrate the accomplishment! It’s a big achievement that you worked hard towards.