If you’ve never run a step in your life, the thought of running 3.1 miles or 5 kilometers can be daunting. In the first 5k I ever ran, I crossed the finish line exhausted, crying, and certain I would never do that again!

Considering the fact that I have since completed several 5ks, 10ks, triathlons, marathons, and even an ultra marathon, that feeling definitely did not last. Although I have a true passion for running, I started just like everyone else, with one step. Now I'm passing on the tips I used when I first started running along with a sample eight-week training program. Here's to getting you on your feet, out the door, and to the finish line of your first 5k race.

Training Tips

Alternate walking and running. When you first start training, it is important to start slowly. An effective training technique is to alternate running for one to two minutes with walking for two to three minutes. As your endurance level increases, you can start to increase your running time and decrease your walking time.

Pace yourself. It is important to start off slowly so that you have the energy to finish every run, especially the long ones. At the end of the run, you should feel tired but still be able to finish.

Cross train. Swimming, biking, using an elliptical machine, or taking group fitness classes are low-impact ways to increase your endurance and stamina. Running too many days in a row can lead to injury. Give your body the time it needs to adapt to increased exercise and the intensity of running.

Monitor your intensity. Ask your Medi-Weightloss® counselor for the “Working Hard” handout, which lists ways to monitor the intensity of your workout. Working out too intensely can lead to burnout and injury.

Stay hydrated. It is important to stay hydrated before, during, and after a workout. Try to drink at least 4 to 6 oz of water for every 15 to 20 minutes of running. There are several belts and bottles you can purchase to easily wear your water while you run.

Find more fitness advice and exercise tips from Medi-Weightloss Clinics® Certified Fitness Expert April Plank on the Signature Patient Website.