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7 Tips For Running Your First 5K

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Running season is upon us! I have always loved running -- it's a therapeutic exercise that allows you to be alone with your thoughts and reflect while getting fit. It's what I crave after a long day, it's what I do when I have energy and when I don't, and it has the ability to make me, and many others, feel great -- they don't call it a 'runner's high' for nothing.

That being said, I know not everyone feels the same as I do. Some people even claim to hate running. However, in my experience, those who have a strong dislike for running often feel that way because they aren't setting themselves up for success by preparing properly or training right.

There are so many great benefits of running and it can become a healthy lifestyle addiction. It's an easy (once you get the hang of it), inexpensive sport that will help you get fit and also get you outside of your normal exercise routine. Trust me when I say, if you can walk, you can run!

For those who are considering taking up running my first piece of advice to you is to consider signing up for a learn to run program, a social run club, or ask someone with experience and expertise for advice.

I also suggest signing up for an event so you have a timeline to put your training to use and an accomplishment to strive toward. Many races, like the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon which many of my friends and colleagues are currently training for, offer a variety of race distances so that people of all experience levels can partake.

Once you've signed up for your event and found a buddy or club to run with, here are my top tips for training for your first 5K:

1. Eat a healthy snack: 30-60 minutes prior to going for a run eat a healthy but light snack that includes a complex carb. Half a bagel and half a piece of fruit with a small amount of protein, like a spoon full of peanut butter is a great option and will keep your energy up on your run.

2. Ensure you wear proper footwear: It's so important to have good footwear when you run because it can make the world of difference. Go to a footwear store that specializes in shoes for runners. You can get a free assessment and walk out of there with the perfect pair of runners.

3. Ensure you wear proper gear: Similar to shoes, having the proper attire is equally as important. You have to remember to dress for the season, so during the summer go for something that wicks sweat away. For colder seasons try layering. Don't forget sun protection like a good pair of sunglasses or a cap.

4. Start slow: Do you know the saying 'slow and steady wins the race?' It's true! Go slow, pace yourself and trust your speed and build up distance gradually (really important to emphasize that one should not start with 5km but start 1km at a time). If you're new to running start with the walk run method, where you walk for a minute followed by running for a minute -- or whatever duration works best for you.

5. Cross Train: Cross training is training in two or more sports or fitness activities in order to improve and enhance your overall performance. Instead of going for a run every day mix up your routine. Strength train, do some yoga, work on your flexibility or try a Group Fitness Class. Running is repetitive and this will help your body adjust to different scenarios, surfaces, conditions, and you name it. People who cross train are the runners that are able to enjoy running the longest and are less prone to injury.

6. Mix up your runs: Don't always run the same route, don't always run the same distance; to put it simply, change it up. Try running on different surfaces, whether it be pavement, treadmills, grass or somewhere off the beaten path you will notice the difference and this small change will help your preparation drastically.

7. Connect with a cause: If you run for something with a charitable cause you are more likely to succeed because it gives you a purpose outside of yourself. And given all of the charitable events out there today, chances are if you believe in making a difference with a particular cause, there's a run associated with it.

So please, try out these tips and get started on the path to enjoying that beautiful runner's high. And as always, let me know in the comments some of your favourite running tips that you've read or heard from friends.

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