By Caroline Nickerson
Freshman, Statistics Major
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of 5Ks are NOT characterized by extreme exhaustion, ridiculous athletic gear (i.e. sweatbands), and the dulcet tones of “Eye of the Tiger.” Don’t be scared of 5Ks. In fact, though many believe that 5Ks are grueling, intense ordeals open only to experienced athletes, this is not the case at all! With the proper preparation, ANY individual can become a 5K champion. 5Ks are only a mere 3.1 miles, but running creates opportunities for a healthier lifestyle, increased community involvement, and personal goal setting. All it takes is a plan!
- Before even embarking on any sort of athletic training, it is essential to commit to a healthy diet throughout the entirety of the preparation process. If it’s processed food, don’t eat it. Though it may be difficult to completely eliminate fast food and sodas, consumption of these in large quantities will hinder the running experience. Drink as much water as possible, and eat ample amounts of carbs! They provide essential energy and stamina on race day.
- Have proper running shoes and socks. Without these, a runner risks blisters, as well as serious knee damage. Many professional runners recommend the Nike Free Run shoes and Dri-Fit socks. However, it is best to go to a track store for a personalized fitting.
- It is of paramount importance to stretch before every workout. Once again, neglecting to do so greatly increases risk of injury. Runner’s World, a keynote running magazine, recommends these safe stretches: http://www.runnersworld.com/stretching/dynamic-routine
- Run a little bit farther every day. This will allow for the gradual improvement of skills. Specifically, I would recommend upping the mileage for the longest weekly run by one mile each week until reaching five miles. Any more than this is unnecessary for a 5K. It’s also helpful to vary work-outs! A true runner does not just run long distances. Instead, he or she lifts weights and then runs two miles one day, or participates in an abdominal workout followed by speed training with short, concentrated sprints the next. This is crucial in avoiding injury, as well as invaluable in becoming a better athlete (amateur or otherwise).
- Find at least one person who motivates you and run with them! Running can be lonely and occasionally tedious, so being accountable to someone will force you to follow through with your work-outs, as well as make the experience more fun overall.
In fact, the Prism staff recommends grabbing a friend and training for the Honors’ N.E.R.D. 5K! Not only does it promote elementary education in Florida, but it also receives the full support of the Honors Program. Freshman Student Honors Organization Executive Board member, Nardin Derias, raves about her volunteer experience. “It has been a blast volunteering with the N.E.R.D. 5K. It is always great to help give back to the community, especially when the cause is as worthy as this one!” The 5K also receives wide support from honors student runners. Janet Shear, Freshman Honors Student, epitomizes the key tenets of this article, stating, “I’ve always enjoyed running and signing up for this 5K helped to keep me motivated to run regularly. It feels good to have something to work towards, and I know that I will have a sense of accomplishment when I cross the finish line. It is great that I can do something I enjoy and help out a great cause at the same time.” Grab a friend and be like Janet!
Running can be difficult, but it is rewarding. The intrinsic rewards of conquering a personal goal with a friend, running in a charity 5K, and becoming a healthier person far outweigh any momentary discomfort. What are you waiting for? Start training for the N.E.R.D. 5K today!