Run Fest is Coming!
5k. Five kilometers. Three point one miles.
You see your friend’s Facebook post where they get up at 6am to meet a group of equally “crazy” runner friends to run a 5k. Part of you says: They’re crazy. There is no way I could rise before the sun to get up and go for a run!
But also, another part of you says: What if I was one of those “crazy” people who have a running goal? That could be cool.
Now enters the internal dialogue of:
“Can I even run?”
“Am I too old to start?”
“But I don’t like running.”
“Can’t running get me injured?”
Or, “Could this be a new, fun hobby?”
Maybe, “I can improve my health with running?”
“Ok….Maybe I can do this, but where do I even start?”
All of these thoughts are totally valid, and we are here for you to support this journey. The St. Pete Run Fest is coming up November 11-13, 2022, and as a title sponsor for this awesome community event, we are excited to get as many people out there running as we can.
Read on to learn about what a Couch to 5k plan is, see a sample 9-week plan, develop some strategies for success, and learn stretches for injury prevention while tackling your new goal.
Benefits of Running & Making it FUN
There are a ton of benefits of running because it is one of the most wonderful forms of fitness that targets several systems in the body. However, remember that running paired with a muscle sparing activity like weightlifting a few days a week, is a winning combination!
As you can see in the infographic (1) above, the benefits of running range from increased fat loss, to stronger bones/increased bone density, to boosted immune system, and improved cardiovascular health. Personally, I find the release of dopamine and the positive cognitive part of running to be one of the best benefits. Every time I go for a run, it is a blissed-out time of my day that makes me connected to nature and ready to conquer whatever the day holds.
Now, since not everyone shares that kind of enthusiasm, I have a few strategies for how to make your runs fun and doable if it’s not traditionally something you enjoy, or if you’re just getting started.
Here are a few strategies of how to make your run something that you look forward to:
1. Decide on your optimal time of day before you get started, and be consistent.
2. Have your Clothes Ready To Go for when it’s Go-Time
3. Choose if you want to Buddy up or Go Solo
4. Identify your Motivational SoundTrack (Listen to music, a book, a podcast, or a show)
What is the Couch to 5k Plan?
The phrase “Couch to 5k” and its plan was devised in the mid 1990s by Josh Clark. He had a recent struggle in life and decided to turn to taking up running for solace. He had zero fitness level or previous history with running, so he wanted to make a plan that was gentle and enjoyable enough that he could reap the benefits of running without the “dreary, horrible ramp-up”.
This plan has running and walking intervals that start as time-based instead that progresses to longer stretches of solid running without walking breaks. However, there are several iterations out there: some time-based and some progressing to distance-based. It’s all about finding what works for you! The running is planned for three days a week, with the running intervals increasing over the six weeks, and the walking intervals getting shorter. The first run/walk day starts with 1 minute of running and 1 minute of walking, 10 times, totaling 20 minutes of work. Then the runner builds up over nine weeks to 30 minutes of running. All of this to prepare for the 5k race day.
By 1996, the Couch to 5k plan was posted to Clark’s website, and then it took off as a household term and running concept for non-runners seeking to take up the sport. In an interview, Clark said about starting his running program: “[I] found running at first to be punishing and painful. But then, it started to feel good – physically, mentally and even spiritually” (2)
Your 8 Week Couch to 5k Plan
See below for a great example of a eight-week Couch to 5k plan, from the Marathon Handbook (3).
Injury Prevention During your Training
Now that there is a training game plan, it’s important to ensure you do not get derailed by developing aches and pains. Below are five stretches you should do before or after a run to make sure you stay healthy!
- Stand next to a chair, wall, or stable object for balance
- Step over a ball with one foot
- Roll the ball under your foot front-to-back to release the plantar fascia
- Perform for 1-2 minutes on each foot
- Stand in front of a wall
- Extend your toes against the wall and try to bring your knee towards the wall until you feel a gentle stretch under the foot
- Maintain the position for 5-10 seconds and relax
- Repeat 3 times per leg
Hip flexor Stretch
- Position yourself in a half-kneeling stance with the leg to stretch placed behind
- Lean forward at the hip while twisting your trunk toward the front leg
- Hold for 2 minutes per side
Figure 4 Stretch
- Cross the legs with the leg to be stretched on top
- Gently pull the lower knee toward the chest until a stretch is felt in the buttocks
- Hold for 2 minutes per side.
Standing Leg Drive
- Stand on one leg beside a wall with the other leg bent and touching the wall
- Have the support foot facing forward and your knee cap aligned with your second toe by activating your buttock muscle to externally rotate the supporting leg
- Push your other knee against the wall while you slightly squat down on the supporting leg, keeping the knee cap aligned with your second toe at all times
- Relax and repeat for 3 sets of 20 second holds.
If you have any questions or concerns about an injury that limits your ability to run, contact us here: