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8 Lessons from My First 5K Race

The Most Fun You'll Have Running

-- By Nicole Nichols, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor
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4. Enjoy the moment. The whole experience was unlike anything else. Along the way, you hear the collective pounding of sneakers on the pavement all around you. People sit in their front yards and gather on the sidewalks just to cheer on complete strangers. When you look around, you see people who are all there for one common goal. I listened to some rockin’ songs on my iPod (without which I might have lost motivation when it got really tough). And when you see the finish line approaching, no matter how tired you feel, somehow you dig down deep and give it everything you’ve got left. It's the most fun you'll ever have running.

5. Keep moving. Don’t stop moving just because you cross the finish line. Keep walking for several minutes to cool down, and visit the water station to rehydrate. Stay on your feet as much as possible—this will help you avoid cramps and post-workout soreness. Spend several minutes stretching, too, focusing on the calves, quads and hips, which are likely to be sore in the coming days.

6. Be proud. I never thought that a 5K was really a big deal—I mean, it’s no marathon, right? But it was a challenge and I was glad that I had pushed myself to the end! I crossed the finish line in 27 minutes and 58 seconds. I couldn’t believe it! Never would I have expected to have done so well or have been so proud of myself.

7. You CAN do it. I saw children under 10, seniors over 60, pregnant women, dads pushing strollers, tall, short—every size, shape and age imaginable. Everyone was there and they all did it! Don’t let the fear of coming in last deter you—it’s still better than all the people who never try.

8. Try again. I am 100% motivated to try again! I want to get a better time and I want to run the whole course without taking a break. These goals are enough to inspire me to finally take up a regular running program (never saw that one coming!). In fact, there’s another race in a couple weeks that I think I might try. I never thought running could be so enjoyable and motivational until I ran my first 5K. It's worth the try. What have you got to lose?
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.

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Member Comments

  • Wow, amazing!! This one motivated me to try it once myself.. - 3/25/2014 6:32:24 PM
  • I couldn't do a 5K run if my life depended on it!I am doing good just to walk around our little block.I do work out on my elliptical machine everyday except sundays and I consider that to be my primary exercise.Love reading about all the exercises and marathons but will just keep on walking around our little block. - 3/22/2014 12:21:03 PM
  • Walking is just fine. Everyone was thrilled for me, even if I did sit down TWICE. I did fine: bad knees, way over weight, sedentary. Good for me. Good for us all. - 3/21/2014 8:48:45 PM
  • Did my first 5k last week and will be doing another one soon. Met a man who had been running for years and he "walked" me through the whole thing. With his help it was a great experience and I had a great time. I knocked about 30 secs off my best time, so onward and upward. - 3/21/2014 7:37:44 PM
  • CHERRYZMB60
    I've only done 5K's walking and my fastest time is 55min which i must say i'm very happy with the last one has start and ending pictures and all I can say is WOW what a differenece in facial expression - 3/21/2014 11:51:45 AM
  • This is a great article, Nicole. Thank you for the tips and for your honesty. I have done 3 5k's, one each year, and 54 minutes was my fastest time. I have never in my life been a runner, but I love these events. I began training in January. My goal this year 3 more 5k's, jogging the last in its entirety.

    - 3/21/2014 10:46:15 AM
  • I'm training to run my first 5k in May with Couch to 5k/ 5k 101 podcasts. I'm excited! I'm definitely focusing on my training, even the days that seem easy to ease into jogging that far. - 3/21/2014 10:32:37 AM
  • When mentioning "all kinds" you forgot blind. I'm always blown away when I see the blind runners. - 3/21/2014 7:31:16 AM
  • Timely article ... tomorrow morning I am running my first 5K (before turning 60) ... Color Me Rad ... so excited! My mindset is to just go out and enjoy the entire experience. I'm not out to set any PRs tomorrow ... I just want to have fun. Will I run another 5K? Most definitely! : )
    - 3/21/2014 7:23:12 AM
  • Thank you so much for helping ease the nervousness for all of us who are preparing for our first 5K!
    - 3/10/2014 9:18:24 AM
  • I am a new member and one of my goals that I am working towards is doing a 5K Color Run in our area so I found your article very enlightening. Thanks you have helped me to be able to visualize better for my own motivation when I need it. - 3/9/2014 1:07:20 AM
  • After re-evaluating my progress and goals (and actual dates of the race), I think I will register for the Run for Your Lives Zombie 5k that's held in Atlanta in the Spring. I'm a little too late to do so for 2014, so I plan to register for Spring 2015. That gives me plenty of time to get down to my goal weight, body fat % and muscle mass, train and save up for registration. It's interesting, you can register as both a zombie or a runner. I might see what is involved in registering as a zombie so that I can do so in 2014. That way I'll know a bit more about the course and obstacles (yep, there are obstacles) when I register as a runner for 2015.

    Super excited that I've found a lot of articles and advice for mud runs and 5k's combined with an obstacle course so that I can begin mentally preparing. Then I'll research the best ways to train and start training around August of 2014. I've never done anything like this and to be honest I'm a little nervous, but I think it'll be a great experience (and heck, why not train for a better outcome in case of an actual zombie apocalypse?)! - 12/16/2013 3:27:48 PM
  • TOOTHFAERIE
    I am running in my first 5K tomorrow. I have lost 55 pounds so far on Weight Watchers and this has been a goal of mine ever since I started my fitness journey. Tomorrow is also the sixth anniversary of my cancer being in remission. I have been doing lots of cardio and interval circuit training leading up to this as well as some shorter distance runs. I hope I can finish this running although I'm not sure his fast I should pace myself! - 12/6/2013 11:04:42 PM
  • Good for you. - 11/22/2013 6:11:32 AM
  • YAY ! - 11/20/2013 8:23:49 PM
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