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Published April 12, 2012, 11:31 PM

Train for a 5k in five weeks

Want to join in the Fargo Marathon excitement, but haven’t started training? There's still time
FARGO - If you’ve always wanted to run a 5k but you’ve never committed to it, now’s your chance.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

If you go

What: Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota Fargo 5k

When: 6:30 p.m. May 18; participants start lining up at 6; packets must be picked up by 5:30

Where: Runners line up on University Drive; walkers line up on the median road leading up to the Fargodome.

Registration: Registration for the 5k costs $35 until April 30; $40 until May 6.

Info: For more information, go to www.fargomarathon.com/5krace.htm.

Online: Couch to 5k program: www.c25k.com; Hal Higon’s 30/30 Plan: www.halhigdon.com/training/51237/rr/Beginning-Runners-Guide-30-30-Plan

FARGO - If you’ve always wanted to run a 5k but you’ve never committed to it, now’s your chance.

Five weeks from tonight, 10,000 people will line up for the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota Fargo 5k Run/Walk.

It’s not too late to join them. With patience and consistency, you can cross that goal off your to-do list.

No matter your age, gender, physical makeup or fitness level, a 5k is within reach. “I firmly and honestly believe anyone and everyone can run a 5k,” says Cley Twigg, manager of the Fargo Running Company.

Can you prepare for a 5k in five weeks? Absolutely, he says, though most people prefer 10 to 12 weeks of training.

“It’s crunch time, and we certainly don’t recommend cramming for any kind of running event,” but it’s doable, says Sally Loeffler, an owner of Beyond Running in Fargo.

Getting started

Loeffler says the hardest part of getting started is, well, getting started.

“The first step is getting out the door,” she says.

Twigg, a former high school and college running coach, says your first day can be a 30-minute session: walking for 10 minutes, jogging for 30 seconds, walking for another 10 minutes, jogging for 30 seconds, finishing with a 10-minute walk.

“The next day, add a minute” of running, he says.

Slowly add more and more running until you’re doing more running than walking. For specific instructions, check out “The Couch to 5k Plan” or longtime running expert Hal Higdon’s “30/30 Plan.”

Twigg says you need to be patient while you transition to running. “It can take a while,” he says.

He says you probably won’t see much progress in the first couple weeks, but you’ll see a lot the last couple weeks.

Work toward running at a comfortable pace that you can maintain, Loeffler says. You could hurt yourself if you push yourself too hard too soon.

Under a condensed timeline, try to get in a training session five or six days a week, but back off a little if you’re feeling worn out, Twigg says.

Running on pavement is a lot different from running on a treadmill, so get outdoors a few times a week to get used to it. Twigg suggests running on grass at a park or on trails to ease the transition.

Loeffler says cross-training can help prevent injury. Mix up your routine with cycling or strength-training.

Don’t neglect your core. Twigg says strengthening your abs and back improves your posture, form and endurance.

You want to push – not pull – yourself down the road, he says. You won’t tire out as quickly if you keep your center of gravity underneath you.

What about shoes? “If you’re already in a shoe that works for you, great, you don’t need a new pair of shoes, as long as your shoes aren’t old,” Twigg says.

He says wearing the proper shoe for your foot and body type make a big difference in how you feel and perform. The right amount of support and cushioning also help prevent blisters.

Twigg says as long they fit properly, the break-in period for a new pair of shoes should be no longer than your first run.

Race week

Both Twigg and Loeffler advise against making any drastic changes to your diet or training the week before or day of the race.

Rest up, but don’t be completely sedentary. “Get a couple runs in that week because the body’s used to it,” Twigg says. “Taper” your training, he says. Instead of four runs, do three, or run a shorter distance.

“Carb-loading” probably isn’t necessary the night before a 5k, Twigg says. Just eat enough to fuel your body.

On race day, do whatever calms your nerves, makes you comfortable and gets you mentally ready for the event.

For some elite athletes, it’s a flat Coke and a Snickers bar. Others won’t run without a special pair of racing socks. Twigg, the men’s top finisher last year in the Fargo Marathon 5k, listens to the Doors before a race.

When you cross the finish line, be proud of what you’ve accomplished and don’t brush it off as “only” a 5k. “It’s still three miles; that’s a lot of steps to take when you’re running,” Loeffler says.

Who knows, maybe after completing the 5k, you’ll set your eyes on the 10k. “I’ve known many people that just started running and all of a sudden they’re running marathons,” Twigg says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590