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The Beginner’s Guide to Running a 5K

Stretching before running


We’re in the heart of 5K season – it seems like local nonprofits and community fundraisers are hosting a run every weekend. You’ve probably also noticed the billboards and radio ads everywhere for the Color Run, Mudman, and other themed races. Maybe this is the year you’ve finally decided to participate in the excitement and you’ve signed up to run your first 5K. If so, congrats! Using the following tips will not only help you complete your 5K safely, but ENJOY it as well!

  1. Get Decent Footwear!

Spending more time on your feet means you need to make sure you’ve got good support. Not sure what that looks like? Watch this video to learn more.

  1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

When engaging in any physical activity, ensuring your body has proper hydration is key, especially in warm summer months. Keep a bottle of water handy at all times. Unless you’re doing high-intensity exercise for over an hour, you probably don’t need fancy sports drinks. Most people just need water to stay hydrated.

  1. Start With What’s Comfortable

When you begin running or a combination of running/walking any sort of distance, you should start with a pace that feels comfortable for you. It is better to aim for a timed goal than a distance and set a pace you think you can maintain for that timeframe. If you finish and think you could have gone further or faster, adjust next time. Don’t end your runs exhausted.

  1. Follow a Plan

Following a schedule is really helpful for staying on track to meet your goals. Check out an example workout plan here and here.

  1. It Isn’t Just About Running…

Preparing for a 5K isn’t just about running. Some days are for core strengthening, strength building, and rest. This helps minimize injuries and ensures that you actually enjoy your run, rather than struggling through it.

  1. Don’t Forget to Stretch!

In addition to the workout plan, you’ll find that doing stretches before and after is important. These aren’t just any old stretches, but DYNAMIC stretches. This means moving while extending and lengthening muscles – like with lunges and high knees. Follow this pre-run warm-up for great results.


For more great tips on preparing to run your first 5K, check out this article. For extra support, don’t forget that our staff at the St. Cloud Orthopedics Sports Center wants to help you reach your goals!