Training for your first 5K: Overcoming obstacles

At the core of Galloway’s philosophy is the idea of alternating running and walking. He says this approach helps avoid exhaustion, injuries, frustration and burnout.

Here is Galloway’s advice for getting back on track:

Help! I was doing great until I went on vacation. Now, I’m having trouble getting back into training.

JG: Start back by walking gently the first week. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes on Tuesday, 30 to 40 minutes on Thursday and 50 to 70 minutes on Saturday or Sunday. During the second week, ease back into normal walking speed. Runners can walk for 15 minutes and then alternate 15 to 20 seconds of jogging followed by 40 seconds of walking for 15 minutes. Ease into your normal exercise routine over the next three to four weeks.

Help! I have been diligently training, but I don’t feel like I’m progressing. I haven’t built up my endurance.

JG: Slow down your pace during your weekend workout, and increase your distance by half a mile each week. Longer distances will help build your endurance.

Help! I am trying to train on a regular basis, but I find walking and running so boring. I’m not sure I could ever incorporate this into my lifestyle.

JG: Try inserting 10 to 15 seconds of running into each minute of walking. Running tends to release positive-attitude hormones, giving you a sense of joy.

Help! I wonder if I am just not meant to be a runner. I train regularly, but running doesn’t seem to be getting any easier.

JG: You don’t have to run continuously to be a runner. Walk for the first five minutes, then run for 15 to 20 seconds and walk for 15 to 20 seconds for 10 minutes. Then gradually increase the amount of running, as you feel comfortable. Continue to insert a 30-second walk break every minute or two. Don’t run to the point you are huffing and puffing. Take a walk break. You are still a runner.

Help! I love running in the flat terrain of my neighborhood, but the 5K I’m training for will have a lot of hills. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it.

JG: Once a week, find a hill. Go up the hill, and go down the hill, alternating running and walking. When race day arrives, you can tackle hills the same way, alternating running and walking. A hilly course shouldn’t deter you from trying a 5K.

These are just some of the reasons beginners get discouraged. “Consistency is the most important part of conditioning and fitness,” Galloway says. Using a training schedule is one way to maintain consistency. Keeping a journal is another.

If you have been training solo, try a running with a group or walking with a friend. If you feel stuck in a rut, find a new place to walk or run. If you feel yourself sliding toward quitting, think about the 5K you signed up for. Imagine yourself crossing the finish line and accomplishing your goal. “As you write the date of the race on the calendar,” Galloway says, “you’ll find more purpose to every run.”

About this series: Training for Your First 5K appears Wednesdays and features expert advice for all aspects of preparing for a 5K. Created by the Kaiser Permanente Run/Walk & Fitness Program, the goals are to inspire metro Atlantans to get fit and to promote workplace wellness.

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