How to Prepare for Your First 5K
I was always into exercise; I had a gym membership and took spin classes, but I was never really excited about it, or passionate about it. Exercise was never a lifestyle for me, I just did it so I wouldn’t be overweight.
I saw that there was a mud run at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on October 6, 2012; I will always remember that date. It looked like so much fun! So I got a team together and before I knew it, I was training for a 5K, muddy obstacle course. I had no clue what I was doing, the only running I had ever done was on the treadmill. I got butterflies in my tummy when I knew it was time to put on my running shoes. Going to the gym never did that! I didn’t have the right shoes, or a watch. And I definitely didn’t wear the right clothes, but I still ran every day and loved every minute.
Race day came and I was so excited. I felt adrenaline and nerves that I had never felt before. I felt alive! I did the race and had mud in places that will remain anonymous, but for once my life, I was on fire! My time wasn’t the best and I struggled, but I was hooked. I wanted more! And I wanted to get better.
The next day at work, my mind wouldn’t stop churning. I knew I needed to join a running group or something, so I emailed one of my best girlfriends, who knew all about this stuff. She immediately wrote me back and simply said, “Start running with us! I have a running group!” Before you knew it I was running 4 milers at 6am before work and every weekend and the rest is history!
Fast forward to present day, I have now ran 5 half marathons, 4 triathlons (3 sprints, 1 Olympic) and I have a Half Ironman in March 2015. So my message to you today is this: If I never took that muddy chance, I would not be in the best health, best fitness, best condition, best ME in my entire life. I do believe the key to your overall health, your overall well-being, is finding what makes your soul sing. Once you do, EVERYTHING falls into place. Oftentimes, you don’t find your passions, they find you, which is awesome! So let your passion find you and take a chance! You may just surprise yourself.
Tips to Prepare for a 5K
1. Join a running group. Once you surround yourself with like-minded people, you will have your pulse on every upcoming race without even trying. There are many local running clubs in your area. I just Googled, running clubs San Diego and 12 clubs popped up on the first page. Or, do what I did and utilize your friends. Reach out to them, every runner loves a newbie. Also, your local running shoe or apparel store has running groups as well and they are usually free.
Joining a running group will also help you stay motivated, but will also help you train. It’s your first 5K so no need to get overly technical yet, but it’s helpful to know what you’re doing. There is always a method to the madness. If you do want to get technical please message me, I’ll help you find a coach.
2. Get moving. You have to start somewhere. Running is great because you can do it anywhere at any time. Your 5K isn’t going to run itself. Throw on your shoes and go!
3. Get the right gear. Save yourself some grief, get the right shoes and wear the right clothes; your local running store can fit you correctly for shoes. Keep in mind that you have a unique foot and stride; the right shoe is key. Stay away from cotton on your feet and on your body. Cotton holds on to moisture and that does not feel good on your skin (especially if it’s cold) and can give you blisters on your feet. Wear sunscreen, regardless of the season and wear a hat or visor and running sunglasses. You’ll have a better experience without sweat or sun in your eyes. No need to spend a fortune either. A lot of this is trial and error, see what works for you. You eventually will want to know your pace and miles, no need to get a watch right away, but eventually you will want one. Garmin makes great running watches and your first won’t break the bank.
4. Tunes. You gotta have tunes, yo! Get your play lists in order. Are you the president for Drake’s fan club, can Miley Cyrus do no wrong, or do you love hair metal from the 80’s? This is your time to listen to WHATEVER you want without one ounce of judgment. Trust me. You should see my playlists! Honestly, this might be one of my favorite parts of the run. Good tunes.
5. Training program. If you want to train by yourself, go on Pinterest and search: first 5K or 5K training and you will find 100’s of training programs for free. You can do what I did and just run every day (not the smartest thing), or be mindful and have a plan. You can also find free programs on the web. If you haven’t noticed yet, Google is pretty much going to be your best friend.
6. Stay motivated. Remember, this is YOUR journey, so enjoy every minute of it. The highs, the lows, the in-betweens…they’re all there for a reason. It’s not only about the race, the sweat or the miles. It’s about the journey the training will take you on, the people you will meet, the places you go and the nature you will see. I don’t think I ever really looked at the ocean until I started running. And if you need some motivation or some loving encouragement along the way, message me!
“Never limit where running can take you. I mean that geographically, spiritually and of course, physically.” – Bart Yasso
San Diego native, Shawn Bonsack - “Shawnie Sunshine” - has spent most of her life wanting to help and inspire others. After graduating from Sonoma State University, she held various positions in sales and marketing, with a focus in the health and wellness industry. She is currently an Insurance Account Executive/Manager in Del Mar, CA. Her journey to health and wellness started in 2010 after reading the book Skinny B*tch, but her journey to discover her ultimate passion started in 2012 when she ran her first 5K. She is now a proud triathlete, cyclist, runner and yogi. She's a Women's Team Ambassador for Breakaway Training, Premier Multi Sport Team and volunteers her time to various different local health and children’s charities. She’s looking to add more stamps to her passport, loves animals and deems herself the ultimate life enthusiast.
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