In a moment of inspiration, you signed up for your first 5K walk. At the time, it was a great idea—maybe it’s a charity walk or you thought it would motivate you to move more. But now you’re left wondering why (on earth) you were thinking you could walk 3.1 miles (the equivalent of five consecutive kilometers). Don’t throw in the towel yet. With the right prep, you can be ready to cross the finish line feeling good. Some tips for training to walk your first 5K:
Start training early. You’ll need about five to seven weeks, depending on your fitness level; and your schedule should incorporate both walking with rest days to reduce the risk of injury, stress and fatigue. Start with a comfortable distance goal, such as one or one-and-a-half miles, and gradually increase how far and how long you walk by about 10 to 15 percent each week (so if during week one, you walk 20 minutes, five days a week; walk for 23 minutes, five days, on week two). Talk to your doctor before you start any new exercise program, and ask for help in determining the safest training plan for you.
Get proper walking shoes. Many sneakers are designed to provide different support and cushioning, depending on your activity. Make sure yours are made for walking, and that they fit as they should. For advice on buying the best sneakers for you, we’ve got you covered here.
Fuel your body. Eat a light carbohydrate-rich snack, such as fruit or yogurt, about one to two hours before your walk; carbs provide energy to your muscles. And don’t forget to hydrate: drink about two cups of water a few hours before heading out, then sip roughly a half cup to one cup every 15 minutes during your walk. Also weigh yourself before and after your workout, and drink two to three cups for every pound lost, over the next several hours.