In many ways, the season of giving has become the season of eating. With an abundance of homemade food at hand, it’s easy to lose track of your regular eating plan. If you want to start the semester without a few unexpected pounds tagging along, you might want to consider joining a movement that is sweeping the nation: running in a race.
Organized races like 5ks, 10ks, and half marathons are all the rage these days. Whether your dream is to be a disney princess running through the streets of Magic Kingdom, or a survivor fleeing from blood-thirsty zombies, aspiring runners have a lot of options.
But is running really for you? Nicole McCullough, a junior at UM and Personal Trainer at the Herbert Wellness Center, says that everyone can be a runner, and a 5k is a good place to start. “5Ks have grown in popularity so much. I think people realize that anyone is capable of doing a 5k.” According to McCullough, the relatively short distance is what makes 5k races so appealing. For those that are unfamiliar with races, a “5k” is race spanning 5 kilometers, or 3.1 miles. It takes an average runner between 30-45 minutes to complete this distance, which makes it a realistic goal for even beginner runners.
If you’re new to running, don’t get discouraged. With proper training, even the newest of newbies can get into the sport. Not sure where to start? McCullough suggests finding a race that fits your interests and goals. “Once you sign up you will have a set goal for yourself, which will push you to start training and keep you motivated throughout your training.”
Once you’ve committed to a race, the training should be gradual. McCullough recommends that for short races, prospective runners should begin with interval training, alternating walking and running segments and slowly working up to just above your target distance. For longer distance races, there are multiple possible training plans, but one option is to run moderate distances three times a week, and one longer distance once a week.
She also urges that rest days and cross training are vital to proper training. As overtraining often leads to injury, it’s important to give your body time to recover between runs. For cross training, spend some time on an elliptical or other cardio machine a few days a week. Weight training can also be a great cross training option. If you’re unfamiliar with weights, think about scheduling a personal training appointment or attending one of the many free fitness classes at the Wellness Center.
Having a goal is a great way to stay motivated, as long as you leave enough time to train properly. “No distance is too much as long as you leave enough time to train for the race,” insists McCullough. Whether you’re a new runner or a veteran, finding a race is a great way to stay in shape and get a start on those New Year’s resolutions. Check out some of the upcoming races we found, and keep an eye out for more races in the area to kick off the New Year.
- Clearwater Marathon: Jan 19th @ Clearwater, FL
- Key West Half Marathon and 5k: Jan 19th @ Key West, FL
- Armageddon Ambush Mud Run: Jan 25th @ Hialeah, FL (3+ miles)
- Mud Mingle 10K: Jan 25th @ Orlando, FL
- Miami Marathon: Feb 2nd @ Miami Beach, FL
- Publix A1A Marathon: Feb 16th @ Fort Lauderdale, FL
words_amanda wood. photos_courtsey of kristen spillane.