With 2015 starting up, it is time to pull out that list of 2014 New Year’s resolutions. You casually cross out “2014” and change it to “2015”. If you’re like most overweight Americans, you have “Get in shape” or “Lose XX pounds” on this list. Instead of writing some vague statement like “I’m going to be less of a fat ass than last year” or “On Sundays, I will take the stairs instead of the elevator” on your 2015 resolution sheet, why don’t you write something quantifiable like “I’m going to run a 5K in less than 25 minutes.”
Here are some pointers for running your first 5k:
1) When you sign up for your race, you will get a T-shirt with the name and date of the race on it. You wouldn’t wear a “Boy George 2015 Revival Tour” shirt to The Brass Rail bar in Fort Wayne, Indiana to watch the has been singer belt out “Karma Chameleon”. Don’t turn your first 5K into amateur hour by sporting the crisp, new race day shirt of the race you’re in.
2) Never run the entire 5K distance in training. Marathon training rules apply here. Let’s face it, a 5K is your marathon; this is probably the most physical activity you’ve had since you ran the mile in seventh grade gym class. Keep it simple; one mile here, two miles there. There is no need to pull a hammy a couple of weeks prior to your big Chariots of Fire moment.
3) If the race you’re in is big enough, you will be assigned a starting corral. Since you have no race history, you will be assigned the last corral. Everyone has to start somewhere, but when you start the winner of the race will be crossing the finish line at the same time. Your corral will be behind the people with walkers and dudes almost as lame as you. Pay no attention to your assignment. Get to the front of the race, and come out guns blazing. There is a chance that you will be the race leader for the first fifty feet before some Kenyan blows past you.
4) Carb loading is not just for marathoners. The night before the race, go out and eat. Don’t limit yourself to carbs. Eat everything you can get your hands on. No french fry is too small, no beer has too much gluten, just eat and drink. When you’re running almost four miles (I rounded for your ego boost) the following day you’ll be grateful you have the internal fuel to carry you through.
5) Water stations. Seriously? Do you pause your Growing Pains collector DVDs so you can rehydrate while watching Carol learn about the dangers of drinking and driving? You’re not doing the Bad Water Ultramarathon, you’re doing a warm up run disguised as a race.
6) The last thing you need to go with your sore quads and strained calf muscles are bloody nipples. Marathon guys are always chaffing and bleeding in weird places. Don’t take chances. Get some lube and apply it liberally like Burt Reynolds in Striptease.
7) Babies poop themselves and so do winners. If you’re struggling at mile 1, the last thing you should do is take a break to relieve yourself. Face facts: If you sit down to poop, you may never get up and finish the race.
8) Stretching is for people who do yoga. Don’t confuse your body with poses and saying “namaste”. Any time you waste stretching, is time you are not running.
9) This is the point when most running literature says you should consult a doctor before training. I know a guy who use to be a doctor (that’s a nice way of saying “lost his license without admitting guilt”); he said that running through the pain is the best way to be a winner. Ignore those shin splints, cramps, heart palpitations, and asthma attacks.
10) If you get lapped by the 10K leader on your 5K run, just pull off to the side and cheer on the real athletes.