Preparing for a 5K Race

It’s time for another Austin Sports Medicine 101 class!

A lot of our friends and patients at Medicine in Motion are active runners, while some may be flirting with the idea of signing up for their first 5K (3.1 miles in length). The 5K is a great race for people of all ages and fitness levels, particularly those who may be new to running, in general. The distance is short enough that it doesn’t require long-term training, and it’s a great gauge to see if you might be interested in something more intense (like a marathon or half marathon).

Running can be an acquired taste for some people, even athletes, but particularly those who suffer from asthma or other limiting health factors. Proper training, however, can make all the difference. Here are a few tips as you begin your running regimen:

  1. Ditch the treadmill and run outside – there’s no replacement for outdoor running, especially when training for a running competition. Outdoor elements (wind, terrain, other people) are impossible to duplicate inside. If you’re absolutely stuck indoors, though, at least add inclines to your treadmill runs to mimic some outdoor conditions.
  2. Strap on a heart rate monitor – the monitor lets you know how fast your heart pumps at certain running speeds. This information is crucial if you want to train toward maintaining certain speed levels during your race.
  3. Record your run times – the best way to improve in any athletic event, running or otherwise, is by writing down what you’ve done and using it as a benchmark. Strive to shave off a few seconds each week building up to the race. Just be careful not to create goals that are too lofty – cutting run times down by a minute or more may take months of practice and determination. Don’t undo your enthusiasm by setting unrealistic expectations for yourself.
  4. Run at least three times per week – Try three different sessions each week:
  • Speed session – Running at high bursts of speed with walking/jogging breaks
  • Distance session – Run as long as you, even beyond the distance of the race, if possible
  • Race distance – Run the actual distance of the race for timing purposes. As you progress in practice sessions, try sprinting toward the tail end of the course.

Most of the time, running is more about mental fortitude. Running is constant exertion. It requires a focus and mental strength for blocking out discomfort (though you should always stop and rest when encountering true pain). Set goals and remember that all good things are worth working for.

If you have questions or have needs regarding sports medicine in Austin or the surrounding areas, visit us at, call or send us an email!