The 5k is known to most as the gateway race, often leading you onto longer harder faster stronger races, like it did for me. As the endurance community continues to grow, more and more people are discovering just how awesome this sport can be. To train all you need is a pair shoes, maybe some sweet short shorts, matching unicorn shirt, followed up by the will to get outside and go.
The commitment for a 5k race is minimal in both effort and cost, and as you read this sipping your morning caffeinated beverage of choice, you're likely thinking, "I could totally do that. That can't be that hard." And your totally right, you totally can.
The 5k is a magical event that can probably be found fairly close to you, with the entry cost usually minimal. Using races as an excuse to travel is amazing, but rolling out of bed and driving to a race is even better. Just a side note, I love my bed--makes it so much harder to get up before the sun rises every morning.
The distance of a 5k is just long enough that you'll feel great about completing your race without putting yourself out of commission for the next two weeks. They say, not sure who they are, but they say that shorter interval workouts are more effective than long-distance runs for weight management and building up your total fitness level/base. You may be wondering how a 5k can help your fitness long term, but short distance races do require a sweet slaty combo of strength, speed, power, and endurance.
For me the best part of running a 5K is knowing that you are going to finish. Unlike a half or full marathon where the euphoria of finishing is always just out of reach, laying beyond the next mile, around the next curve--the satisfaction associated with a 5k comes from simply completing the race. All the while you, if you're so inspired, you can challenge yourself against the clock, the others in your age group, or just those running in the pack around you.
Recently one of our oldest friends, Dave (in the blue jersey above), ran for the first time in forever. Even better he was baited into doing so by a group of his mates. He's living in the UK and that's the way they talk, so I've been told from American movies. The first bet was that he wouldn't make it to the starting line, the second bet was that he would finish over 24mins, and the third bet (made by his wife) was that he would injure himself doing so. It's important that you build a core support group around yourself when you venture into the world of endurance athletics. Sometimes that support shows up in unconventional ways, such as the Jersey Wild Party Club.
Dave ultimately felt inspired, nearly died, and ending up placing 68th out of 253 with a time of 24:38. I was immediately impressed, not only because he played hockey the night before without subs, but he ended up clocking a 7:56 mile. Well done Dave, well done. Can't wait to track you on the next one.
With St. Patrick's Day around the corner, and as you start to search out a 5k in your neck of the woods, you might come upon a Shamrock Beer Run, or the Cape Cod Beer Race to the Pint. You might also find something sweet or savory waiting at the fnish like they do at the Donut Dash 5k.
Racing for rewards makes the experience that much better. Most races will also give you a sweet t-shirt to rock on Casual Fridays, to Book Club Wednesdays, or during late night grocery store trips. Find what works for yourself, what you're inspired by and just go for it. I'm mean Dave did, and he had no idea how much awesomeness was inside of himself.