Friday, April 04, 2014

Couch Potato to 5K

Couch Potato to 5K - Image #1

Author: Whitney Hollingshead

So maybe you were in great shape in high school and college, but have found work and other family demands have made it difficult for you to stay physically active. Maybe you are expecting a baby soon, or recently gave birth to a new baby and you are eager to get back in shape. Maybe you gained sympathy weight while your wife was pregnant. Maybe being physically active has never been your thing and you’re not sure where to start. If you identify with any of these situations, take heart. Getting in shape and transitioning to a healthier lifestyle will always be a goal worth achieving.

This year in Utah at least 274 5K races will take place. This means you have 274 realistic opportunities to get off the couch and get in shape. Find a race online that is near to your home and will give you a few months to get ready. Sign up now to set your official goal. If you are worried about following through on your own, find other family members, friends, or coworkers to register for the race with you. (Check out our list of this year’s Fun Runs in Utah!)

Transitioning from a less than active lifestyle into 5K shape is a very realistic goal. Brad White works for Sole Fitness and has participated in multiple races and even extreme events like the Spartan Race. He offers some great advice on where to start when it comes to getting in shape:

“First and foremost, you have to be dedicated. If you wake up and say, ‘I’m going to get fit today’, then you are not going to get fit today. You have to be committed and stick to a plan. I would also say that you need to get a regimen and find what works for you, whatever is the easiest. Whether it be having a treadmill in your house, whether it be at the gym. Find what works for you because if it is too difficult, you won’t do it. If you have to get up too early every morning to work out, eventually you are going to break under your own pressure. You have to commit to things that you can do. And then as you get stronger you can push yourself more, but don’t commit yourself to something that’s unrealistic in the beginning.

Having friends to train with is a huge deal, but you have to be self dedicated because there are countless days when your friends will flake out, or they won’t show up, or they stop caring. Training with friends helps, but the main motivation has to be personal drive.”

Couch Potato to 5K - Image #2

Here are some basic training tips you need to know in designing a plan that works best for you:

  • Don’t register for any race unless you have at least 2-3 months to prepare
  • The ideal program incorporates both days of working out and days of resting
  • Make sure you have good workout shoes & wear comfortable clothing
  • Each workout should last about 30 minutes, 3 times per week
  • Space out your workout days. (Don’t do three days in a row.)
  • In the beginning you should focus on walking and then ease into jogging
  • Don’t push yourself. Gradually increase your time, intensity, & distance

While training for a 5K is often focused around walking, jogging, and eventually running, you can also use other methods of getting in shape that work for you. Is your schedule more conducive to jumping rope, riding a bike, using an elliptical machine at the gym, or even swimming? Does your family have a fitness option on its gaming console that you can use at home? Would you enjoy signing up for a Zumba or yoga class? All of these activities will be helpful with your goal and can be substituted for walking or jogging training days. Make sure that whatever option you choose is related to cardio activities, not strength training (like lifting weights).

Couch Potato to 5K - Image #3

Here are some other factors that may help you get in shape:

  • Listen to music you enjoy while working out
  • Eat more whole grains, lean meats, fruits, and vegetables
  • Substitute soda and sugary drinks for water
  • If you workout outside, avoid the hottest part of the day in the summer

As previously mentioned the best plan for getting in shape revolves around a personalized plan of working out for 30 minutes at a time three times a week. If you can maintain this regimen for two to three months, you will be ready for a 5K. Once you complete the race, don’t revert to your old habits. Working out for 30 minutes at a time, 3 days a week is actually key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle whether you are training for a 5K or not.

So make a promise to yourself to get in shape over the next three months. Set a plan that is reasonable and easy for you to carry out. Stick to your plan and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in the near future.

About the Author:

WhitneyWhitney Hollingshead is an optimist, a dreamer, and a professional writer.  She loves learning and sharing tips, tricks, and fun facts with others.  In her spare time she thrives on coming up with fun and creative solutions for everyday opportunities, especially when the solutions enable her to spend more time with family and friends.

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