A 5K might just be the most fun and rewarding kind of race — if you do it right.
It’s not a marathon or triathlon, and it doesn’t require a huge training commitment. But it can still challenge your fitness, help sculpt your body, and it’s the perfect event to enter with friends.
Many 5Ks are really parties in disguise, with post-race concerts and beer, or even fun shenanigans — like food challenges and costume contests during the race.
To get the most fun out of a 5K, it still takes some motivation, some training and discipline.
Here’s how to stay motivated and prep for your very best 5K:
Pick your best race
The best race is the one that motivates you and brings the most fun. It may be for a favorite cause or your friends will do it, too. Pick a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation or a cause that is near and dear. Do you love dressing up? Pick a race with a costume contest. Or if you’ve got the budget, register for a destination race someplace you’ve always wanted to visit. The excitement of a vacation will add to your motivation to get out and train.
Set a personal goal and schedule
One of the best things about a race is that sets a goal to look forward to, and it’s exciting to click “submit” on your registration. Between the day you sign up and the day of the race, you’ll make need a plan. You will select a training schedule that fits your ability, and stick to it as much as you can. The Mayo Clinic has a great schedule for beginners, and Cool Running and Runner’s World have training calendars for runners of all levels.
Make accountability fun
Make a running date with a friend once a week to keep your motivation high. If you have a friend who runs at a different pace, meet at the gym where you can run on treadmills at your own pace. And there are plenty of local running clubs. Ask your local running shop about group runs.
Set yourself up for success
Sometimes it’s the little things that can completely sap motivation. Blisters, chafing or ill-fitting clothing can take the fun out of running, but this can easily be remedied. Make sure your shoes fit properly and work well with your running style— and your local running shop can really help you. You never know when rubbing will go from a minor irritation to chafing, blisters or even raw skin. Use Skin Glide Balm on toes and feet, and the original Body Glide balm or For Her anywhere rubbing may develop between skin and running wear, a sports bra, and where skin rubs skin. This will keep chafing and blisters from ruining your runs, or putting you off your training schedule.
Make sure you’re excited about your running duds. It sounds silly, but if your clothes make you feel good, stylish and fast, you’ll enjoy your runs—and stay more motivated.
Small rewards go a long way in keeping morale high throughout the training schedule. Allow yourself to splurge on something special each week to help you stick to your training goals. Whether it’s a glass of wine with a running buddy, a new sports bra or a new album of motivational music, little rewards will help keep you stoked when the going gets tough.
Make a good playlist
Motivational tunes will pump you up! Studies show music and mood go hand in hand. Stay psyched! Make a playlist of songs that make you feel happy and energetic, and then hit shuffle, because research shows that a random playlist increases dopamine when songs you like come on. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Beyonce, Metallica or Miles Davis—only that you like it.
Whether it’s your first 5K or your 50th, you’re still getting benefits from the exercise. So even if your race day doesn’t turn out the way you expected, remember all the calories you burned and the endorphins you’ve produced along the way. Don’t forget it’s OK to walk—the real fun is in getting outside and moving. No matter how prepared you are for the race, make sure to enjoy the moment. You won’t regret it.