If you’ve always dreamed of being a runner or completing a race but have felt too intimidated by the idea of extreme distances and tough training, fear not! A 5K is the perfect race for beginners and is surprisingly easy to prepare for. Here are five reasons you should conquer 3.1 miles.
1. It doesn’t discriminate. The beauty of the 5K is that it’s totally doable for people of all ages and running levels. Lindsay Rickmyre McConnelee, a runner and teacher in New York, recently ran a “couch to 5K” program with her husband for a group that included middle school kids as well as her own mother. At the end of the class her mom told her that while she initially thought a 5K was out of her reach, participating in the class made it possible. Not just possible—she completed her first race after only 4 weeks of training, and by her second time at the distance, she knocked 5 minutes off her time.
2. It’s short. Both the distance of the race and the commitment you have to put into training are brief. Even if you’ve never run farther than around the block, working up to just over 3 miles is relatively easy. The training aspect is just as manageable, getting you to the finish line with 3 to 5 days of running per week in as little as 8 weeks.
Related: 5K Beginner Training Plan
3. It lets you go at your own pace. If you’ve never run and are nervous about going the whole distance without stopping, remember that you’ve gotta walk before you can run. One of the great things about a 5K training program is that you can start with a combination of running and walking and slowly phase out the walking until you’re running the full distance. Or if you have some experience but are coming back from an injury or time off, you can follow a running plan that slowly increases mileage before adding hills or speed.
4. It’s easy to stay on track. Whether you want to train solo or with a group, there are so many ways to get the job done. If you want to run on your own, try following a basic 5K training plan or download a training app—like Nike+ Running. Need extra motivation? Try joining a program or running group like McConnelee’s. You can gain the help of a coach and accountability from fellow runners. McConnelee’s younger sister, Laura Rickmyre, was already a runner but took the class to train for a race. She praised the experience, saying that it “motivates you because you have a support group and a common goal you’re trying to reach.”
Related: Become A Runner In 8 Weeks!
5. It’s just the beginning. Once you experience the thrill of completing your first 5K, odds are you’ll be hooked and thinking ahead to your next race. Whether you keep training to shave time off your next 5K or to shoot for a half marathon, the foundation you’ll build on this seemingly short race will carry you far.