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Have you been thinking about running a 5K? It's the perfect distance: 3.1 miles. It requires relatively little buildup, the training doesn't take over your life, and the race is over fairly quickly. Whether you are a first-time 5K participant or an experienced runner, we’ve got the perfect race – and the perfect training plan for you. By logging only three or four runs per week, you can be ready to toe the line of a 5K in just five weeks. And having that race date on your calendar gives your training purpose. A 5K race is an attainable goal for any runner, but the I RUN OPELIKA 5K Run/Walk is a lot of fun and benefits an excellent charity.

The Plan: Five Weeks
In the five weeks leading up to your first 5K, most coaches agree that you need to run three or four days a week. During one of those weekly runs, you should focus on increasing the amount you can run at one time until you build to at least the race distance, or the equivalent amount of time spent running. If you are a beginning runner, add walk breaks to your run and focus on minutes, not mileage. Thinking in minutes is more gradual and self-paced. Completing the equivalent of the 5K distance in training gives you the strength and confidence you need to finish the race. 

Wednesday and Saturday runs: After you warm up, run at a comfortable pace for the designated mileage. Make sure you cool down after your run. If you're running outside and not sure about distances, you can figure out the mileage by using sites such as 

Rest: Rest is critical to your recovery and injury prevention efforts, so don't ignore rest days. Your muscles actually build and repair themselves during your rest days. So if you run every day without taking days off, you won’t see much improvement. Fridays are a good day for rest because you just did a speed workout on Thursday and you have your longest run of the week tomorrow.

Tips for the Big Day: the 5K 
The greatest challenge of running a 5K is finding the right pace. Start out too fast and you'll likely struggle to finish. That's why we recommend all first-time racers (including veteran runners) get in the back of the pack at the starting line. This prevents an overzealous start and allows you to gradually build up speed, ideally running the final mile the fastest. 

Most experts discourage first-timers from shooting for strict time goals. The number one goal for this race is that our 5K runners have fun. Make it a race against yourself because it's your progress that's most valuable to you. Just get to the finish line. If you have a great experience, you'll do it again. And chances are you'll have an even better time.

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