What you need to know if you want to run a 5k.

September 19, 2013

I’m going to start this off by saying that i’I’m not an expert. In fact, I’m terrible about running. I’ve never been good at it my whole life. I’m not fast. I don’t enjoy it. I esp hate running without music. Sometimes running int he gym in front of the big TV screens is ok. And when I first started running I could barely run a whole minute without stopping even in my best shape.

All that being said though, I’ve taken running 5Ks up as a hobby. I’ve ran Warrior Dash three times, The Color Run, Color Me RAD and a few other random walk/ 5Ks in the last three years and I can honestly say I love it. Not for the running part. That part I hate. But for the sense of accomplishment, fun obstacles, color in between my boobs, I have a zillion new t-shirts and its something I can brag about way.

A lot of people thought I was crazy when I started. I remember the “You paid HOW MUCH to run?” questions, the “That doesnt sound fun at all” statements and the “Why?” faces. Yes, that’s right. I, Justynn, hater of all things running started running 5Ks.

My first race was Warrior Dash 2011. A co-worker pulled me aside at work and made me watch some weird video trying to pump me up about mud, sweat and beer. It looked fun, and I like anything that gets me dirty and felt like it would be a good time.


Wrong. It was hard. REALLY HARD. I almost threw up, several times. The obstacles were hard. I was out of shape even though I had been “practicing” and it pushed me to my limits. I hurt everywhere for the next three days. (luckily they were mostly all spent at the cottage where I could be lazy as all hell and no one would question men.

So naturally I signed up to run next years almost a week later.

And not only did I sign up for Warrior Dash the next year, but I added the Color Run for 2012. Then this year I ran Color Me RAD and the Warrior Dash again (this year I ran it alone).  It’s addicting guys. I’m already signed up for WD 2014.


Bonnie from The Pin Junkie (My BlogPal this month!) is training for her first 5K right now so I figured I’d do a post offering some well learned tips and advice for running the 5K races (the fun ones) that I’ve picked up over the last three years. BTW you should stop by her blog today to see what she’s got up for her training…

Lets play: So You Want to Run a 5K.

ONE) Preparation Is Key. Being prepared running wise will definitely make your 5K more enjoyable in the long run. Instead of huffing and puffing  the whole way, feeling like your sides will burst, your feet will fall off and avoiding the “I pushed it too hard” post pain is key.

Never run? That’s OK. You’ll still be able to finish this race. The first thing you need to know is that after that first 1/2 mile about 1/3 of the runners that signed up for the 5K are walking. And that’s OK. If you want to run it the whole way start slow. Run for 60 second walk for 2 minutes and repeat intervals until that becomes easy. Then bump it up, run for 2 minutes then walk for 2, and keep doing this until you feel comfortable enough your running and no longer are paying attention to the time amounts. Also dont do all this running inside. The race will be ran outside so get outside. Running on a treadmill and running on an actual path are two completely different feelings and generally runners have one they prefer over the other and it affects HOW they run.

TWO) Preparation is Key (Again). When registering for these event pick a time slot (if offered) early in the morning.

For example: Warrior Dash runs all day in 1/2 hour increments and almost 500 people per heat. In the middle of summer when hot days can be over 100 degrees (here in MI) you want to run early. Don’t run in the heat. I don’t care if there is water obstacles. Don’t do it. You dehydrate faster, you breathe harder and it wares you out 3x faster (not so scientific fact of life). Also, for Warrior dash you are running and climbing things covered in mud. And silly little fact, you are not the only person COVERED IN MUD. Those obstacles get slippery. REAL Slippery. I nearly ripped the skin off my hands trying to climb down a rope and couldn’t grab hold because the rope was covered in mud. I ended up jumping half of the way down and that wasn’t fun either. Also, lines get backed up at obstacles over the course of the day from the previous heats of runners. Get there early and get there first if you are at all trying to run for time. (Do people actually run for time at these things?)

THREE) Preparation is Key (is there a theme going on here?) When registering for WD make sure you take a look at the obstacle they are offering for your race (sometimes they are not announced yet, so look the day before your run). This last race I ran was VERY different from the last one and had one obstacle that terrified even the strongest runners. Basically it was a walk the plank over a small pit of water. I don’t even want to know what it felt like falling into that pit and there were several people unable to attempt it at all.

FOUR) Bring extra clothes (you thought I was going to say preparation is key again didn’t ya?) Along the same lines of being prepared is being prepare POST race. Make sure to have water, a changed of clothes, non- tennis shoes (I prefer flip flops) and a garbage bag for your dirty clothes. Along that same line, if you are running the fun races where you get dirty make sure to protect your car seats from said dirt and color. If you are running WD, expect the stains and smell to never leave those clothes. Wash your shoes as SOON as you get home. Wash them several times letting them air dry in between. Use baking soda.


FIVE) Take pictures. These races are fun, run with friends, take pictures enjoy being there. Part of the fun with most of these races are the after party. Participate in these, don’t just run and leave. It’s not worth the money. Eat a turkey leg, drink a beer. show off your new blonde/ pink/ green hair from the color packs. Celebrate. You just completed your first 5K and you’re still alive albeit a little sore (way sore tomorrow). Keep your finishing medals and numbers (if they didn’t fall off) and display them somewhere in your home. Brag a little. Not everyone is able to run a 5K (OK, not true, most can, most choose not to).



3 responses to What you need to know if you want to run a 5k.


    I looks like you had a great time! I’ve never participated in any type of fun run, but after seeing how much fun you had, I may have to try one.


    I know exactly how you feel! I hate running, but decided to do The Color Run in Philly this past July & that afternoon I signed up for two more! Now every time I see one in the area that I like, I have to sign up. 🙂

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