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How to Make that Resolution Real: Train for a 5K

Planning to run a 5k? Here, key training tips and strategies from an expert personal trainer and running specialist.

Training for a 5K is a great way to boost your cardiovascular health, reduce stress or simply add more running to your routine.

Essex County is rich in races and in varied terrain to make the training -- and the races -- interesting. 5K season heats up in early spring, though there are winter races for the bold who don't mind cold.

A 5K, or 3.1 miles, is perfect for beginners, but it does take some training to gain the endurance to go the distance. Raina Hafer, NCSF, certified personal trainer and running specialist, shares her shape-up tips for success.

Commit to a Race.  Many local charities and organizations host 5K races in the area, so you'll be raising money for a good cause even as you meet your fitness goal. Choose a race date that allows you ample time to prepare. New runners typically need between 8-10 weeks to train, while those who are already active may only need 6.

Click here to find a race nearby and choose one that is the right fit for you.

It’s also smart to tell friends and family about your upcoming race, says Hafer. “By doing so, you're less likely to drop out of the race and will also get a ton of motivational support to propel you across the finish line,” she says.

Find a Group. Connecting with others to prepare for a race can make training less overwhelming, and can help you stick to your training schedule. You won’t want to let your running buddies down by skipping a workout. Look for a running group that meets at the local YMCA or check out CoolRunning.com to find listings of other local groups.

Follow a schedule. Once you've signed up for a race, you'll need to create a training schedule.  Hafer personally loves the Couch to 5K app, which is great for beginners and super user friendly. Plus, at only 30 minutes, three times per week, it’s the perfect program for even the most time-strapped runner.

In addition to scheduled runs, more advanced runners should cross train twice a week. Hafer suggests cycling, yoga or strength training, activities which increase muscle strength and flexibility and ultimately help you become a stronger runner.

Work on Endurance. Building up the stamina to run a 5K is something that takes time. When you begin training don’t be afraid to alternate between running and walking, says Hafer. Run at a speed where you can comfortably hold a conversation until you become too tired to continue and then begin walking. Once you’ve caught your breath, return to running. Over time, you will be able to walk less and run more, until you can eventually run the entire distance.

Enjoy Race Day! On race day be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before the actual start time to register and warm up. Most importantly though, have fun running the race! You’ve worked hard to get there, so enjoy completing such a great accomplishment.

Marcia Schoppik January 02, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Running is absolutely wonderful but for many obvious reasons, it is not for everyone, however Tai Chi is!! Exercise typically is one of the top three New Year's resolutions each year. Tai chi, a Chinese meditative exercise, offers a way to improve balance, flexibility and concentration while reducing stress, stiffness and pain. It is very different from Western exercise in that it is slow moving yet challenging, and can be rewarding for all ages and fitness levels. It is recognized for helping to prevent falls, lowering blood pressure, balancing blood sugar, strengthening the immune system and elevating mood. In short, Tai chi is a very relaxing, calming form of exercise that builds strength, flexibility and endurance. Why not give it a try? New class begins Jan 14th in Livingston through Senior, Youth and Leisure Services: http://livingstonsyls.org/ See page 24 of the program guide for more details: http://livingstonsyls.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Winter-2013-WEB-SINGLE-PAGE.pdf Remember: what you do not begin today a year from now you will wish you had!

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