Fitness Articles

8 Lessons from My First 5K Race

The Most Fun You'll Have Running


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
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

    I am doing the Selfie 5K on 11-14-2015 in Burnsville, Mn. This will be my first 5K and I am 52 years old. - 11/11/2015 5:08:15 PM
  • I am doing my first K in September. walking but doing. Thanks for the info and encouragement.
    - 7/7/2015 7:08:30 AM
  • For a different 5K or even 10K experience, try a Volkswalk. They're non-competitive & you still get to walk with a fun group of people. - 6/15/2015 12:06:11 PM
  • This is so true! I "ran" my first 5k this year and jogged (and jiggled and sweated....) then walked to lower my heart rate. It was fantastic and I can't wait to do another. - 6/15/2015 9:38:50 AM
  • I've never been a runner (not even a regular 3 miles here and there), but I ran my first 5k two days ago and I turn 50 next month. I ran the entire distance and finished in 42 minutes, 10 seconds. I also somehow managed to keep a relatively even pace of just under 13 minutes a mile. I may not be a fast runner, but it was fun and I'll be doing it again. I just might wait for the heat to subside. Also, my daughter did the race too - we knew to not try to stick with each other and she finished about 10 minutes faster. Now she's trying to get me to train for a half marathon! - 6/15/2015 8:43:55 AM
  • Thanks for sharing ur experience! I am running my first 5K in 4 weeks, and have been feeling stressed out about it. Your article helped me become excited for it again!
    - 2/26/2015 3:22:32 PM
    Well noted! After reading this i'm heading for a 5K Run. :) Thanks - 12/12/2014 6:56:41 AM
  • This is very encouraging. I'm planning on doing a 5K this winter and it's been probably 15 years since my last one. I ran/walked my first one and totally ran my second one. This time I will probably walk the whole thing. This article was a great reminder that even finishing last is FINISHING. That's a thing to celebrate. Looking forward to the race. - 11/26/2014 10:32:00 AM
  • Races are different everywhere I think. All the local races here have walkers and runners and people who do both :). Even the half-marathon here has a category for walkers. - 10/24/2014 6:28:31 PM
  • Hi! Great post, but I just want to say, in a lot of 5k races nobody walks! By the way, I just won my first 5k 2 weeks ago! I'm in middle school! It was a fun run with adults and the high school cross-country team. If anyone is thinking about doing a 5k I would encourage you to give it a try, they are a great experience. - 9/28/2014 6:34:24 AM
  • congratulations! - 7/28/2014 6:07:14 AM
  • Congratulations! - 7/25/2014 2:09:16 PM
  • I did my first 5k last year and came in 17th in my age range, 337th out of 415 participants. (54:45) I walked most of the way because I had no idea how long the route would be OR IF I could even finish. Now that I've done one, I know I can walk and jog the next one. - 7/25/2014 9:13:34 AM
    Seriously, well my first 5K was a little demoralizing. I finished in 44:30, and finished in front of a 70 year old guy with a knee brace. There was a huge hill that I was not prepared for and for my first 5K ever at 55 years old, I was a little embarrassed. To me this first race made me realize not only that I had come a long way in two months, and I had so far to go. I want to do a sub 30 minute that is my goal. I don't want to discourage anyone, but don't be fooled, no one walked my race, and I was a little embarrassed I was so slow. - 7/22/2014 2:35:54 PM
  • Wow, amazing!! This one motivated me to try it once myself.. - 3/25/2014 6:32:24 PM

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