Start setting goals: Your first 5k

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No need to panic – it’s the ideal place to start and you will make it much sooner than you think. Or have you been running for a while, but without much structure or a fixed goal? Then it’s time for a challenge you can focus on. Try taking on a 5k race with the purpose of finishing in a respectable time. It doesn’t have to be a marathon to really challenge you. If you want to stay motivated in the long run, you need to start setting yourself goals you can work towards and actually reach. So let us set your first one for you. Whatever your level, find out how to truly master the 5k here.

5k for beginners

There is no need to feel overwhelmed by 5k. Everyone starts somewhere and this is the ideal place. Why? Because even if you are a complete beginner, you will be able to get to the 5k mark in a healthy, stress-free way after less than eight weeks of training. This means that it is a realistic goal which you can reach quickly and easily with some work and commitment. This is also a goal which you could easily set yourself with friends. Long distances will probably scare most people off, but you will always find friends willing to go for a 5k run with you – especially as the Running workouts are ideal for running together.

Start out with some short interval workouts in the app. You may feel like your pace is too slow, or that you can’t manage the short distances without the recovery breaks, and getting to 5,000 whole meters may seem unrealistic. But whatever you do, don’t be disheartened. This is always how it is at the beginning. Stick to it and you will quickly see some serious improvement in your performance. And this is when you will be more motivated than ever to really reach your goal this time. You will start achieving things you didn’t think you could, and that is the best feeling for boosting your long-term motivation. The interval workouts in the Freeletics Running app are the best way to prepare for 5k, because they help you to run further distances than you would normally be able to, while also becoming faster at the same time – a win-win. With time, the workouts will get longer, the recovery periods shorter and shorter and, before you know it, you won’t be needing them at all. And then that’s it. You will smash your target and will be moving on to your next goal in no time. Let your progress and small successes be your motivation for the future. It doesn’t matter if you go slow, as long as you never stop.

The 5k race

A marathon is not the only goal worth working towards as a runner. Especially if you have never run an event before. A 5k race is the ideal way to ease yourself into the world of races and events with lots of other runners. There are some things that you should consider before your first race, which is why 5k is such a good place to start, because if something does go wrong on the day, this distance will be much more forgiving than a long-distance race such as 10k, 21k or 42k.

Also, the preparation for a 5k is generally more varied and enjoyable than the training required for a marathon, for example. Instead of running and running for countless kilometres, you can really run fast during your 5k training and switch things up a lot with the different interval workouts in the app. These workouts will help you to increase your top-speed and be able to run faster for further distances – just what you’ll need for your race. Getting the Coach and choosing the goal “increase speed” will help you if you have never run with a plan. It will bring structure to your training and will prepare you for pinning that number onto your shirt. Our tip: The Running workout Anubis is the perfect preparation for a 5k race. Begin including it in your training about 10-12 days before your race to boost your performance on the day.

Plan with foresight, learn through hindsight

The experience of running your first event offers more than learning about your training plan. You’ll ask yourself lots of questions along your journey, and you’ll learn so much from your personal experiences. You will find out what time of day suits you best for training, how you should eat before and after your training and where your limits lie. When it comes to the big day itself, you should plan well, but know that you will learn a lot – also from things you could have done differently. How much sleep do you need before the race? When should you get there? What should you eat before and when? What do you need to take with you? When will you get a last bathroom break? This will all be learning by doing. If things don’t quite go to plan the first time, it won’t be the end of the world. You won’t find yourself running with huge blisters during this short distance. You will survive the race even if you miss the chance to use the bathroom beforehand. And there are so many more experiences waiting to be made during your first race. In general, a 5k race is the best way to gain experience and learnings which will help prepare you for longer, more challenging races. So don’t underestimate its potential.

No matter whether you are a beginner or a runner, start small. Set yourself a fixed goal to give your training more direction and to boost your motivation. Starting small will also help stop you from ruining running for yourself by taking on too much before you are ready, so that you end up not enjoying your running at all. And remember: once you conquer 5k and can run it in one go, have patience, stick to it and you should be able to run a half-marathon within a year. Or, with a lot of sweat, training and possibly tears, a whole marathon. But on your way, take pleasure in the experiences and success on your journey. It is not just a race towards the finish line – sometimes you need to enjoy the journey too.