Running Tips: So You've Done Your First 5K, Now What?

runners' feet on a bridge
Once you cross the finish line, make sure to take a few days off before lacing back up again!

by Mary Lambkin

Running your first 5K is a huge accomplishment! Congratulations! After you've crossed the finish line, you deserve a day of celebration and some much-needed rest time. Wondering what to do after those post-race endorphins fade away? Follow these five running tips to stay motivated and healthy, even during the "down times" on your fitness journey.

1. Take Time to Rest

One great running tip that serves as a rule of thumb for much of the running community is to take a day of rest for every mile you race. It's typical for marathoners (who race 26.2 miles) to take almost a full month off of hard workouts after the race! So, if you just raced 3.1 miles, plan on taking at least three days of rest after you cross the finish line. Depending on your soreness level, "rest" can be defined as a complete break from running and exercise entirely or a day of light exercises such as walking or gentle stretches. Don't forget that everyday chores like grocery shopping, cleaning, and gardening can count as light exercise as well!

2. Change Things Up With a New Type of Workout

Here's an interesting running tip: Do something other than running! Research has shown the benefits of cross-training for runners, especially in terms of injury prevention. If your weekly workout plan mostly consisted of running during the past few months, change things up by replacing at least two runs a week with strength training workouts. Not sure where to start? Try some dumbbell workoutslower body workouts, or medicine ball workouts, all of which are perfect for beginners. If you have any questions or need some encouragement, don't hesitate to take advantage of Planet Fitness' [email protected] sessions - they're free for all Planet Fitness members!

3. Challenge Yourself to Increase Pace and Mileage

When you feel like you're ready to start running regularly again, gradually push yourself to improve your performance. Start by setting a small pace goal like reducing your minutes per mile or eliminating walk breaks during your run. Push yourself to run faster during at least one run workout per week. Later in the week, challenge yourself again by increasing your mileage. If your usual running route is two miles long, shoot for two and a half! Even if you have to walk that last half mile, your body will gradually adjust to the increased distance. By making small adjustments to your pace and mileage, you may find yourself running marathons before you know it!

4. Find a Running Buddy

Running is one of the best social sports out there. As you become a more dedicated runner, it's only natural to want to share your passion with others. Connect with a running club or treadmill buddy to help you stay motivated and excited about running. Having someone to talk to about your training plan and performance goals is a great way to stay accountable or even learn more running tips from a fellow enthusiast as you become more committed to the sport.

5. Commit to a New Running (or Fitness) Goal

Keep moving! Sign up for another 5K and use it as an opportunity to celebrate your new speed, or register for a 10K and challenge yourself to tackle twice the distance. You may simply decide to run a race with your new running buddies and enjoy the experience at whatever pace you like. Or maybe you'd like to try a completely new form of exercise and take a break from running. No matter what the outcome, the most important takeaway is that you trained hard and are staying healthy!

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.