Training for the i-Run Pigs 5K – lessons for first-timers

19 Jul
lehigh valley iron pigs i-run logo

For more info on the race and registration forms, click here

East Penn Foot and Ankle Associates is sponsoring the Iron Pigs i-Run 5k and Piglet run, September 16th  at Coca-Cola park in Allentown. All proceeds benefit Iron Pigs Charities.

This is the first part in a series on how to get in shape for this race. If you have a history of heart disease, obesity or lung ailments, please check with your physician before starting this training. The i-Run pigs 5K also includes a walk, so if you’re not fit to run, you can still participate.

If you’re a veteran at running 5K’s, good luck and good running. For newbies, up until race time I’m going to give you advice on how to train for your first race. These tips will also apply to those who used to run but have gotten out of shape over the last few years. Follow this advice and you’ll not only protect yourself from injury, but you might even surprise yourself at how well you do.

First of all, for you non-metric types, a 5K is the equivalent of 3.10686 miles. It’s not as demanding as running a marathon, which is roughly 26.2 miles.

“Only three miles?” you say. “I can do that in a snap!”

Sure. How surprised you’ll be after only one mile (or less) at your fatigue, your need for an oxygen mask, and the pain in your muscles from head to toe – that is, if you don’t train properly. For those who do train, running a 5K will be loads of fun and may become your regular workout.

To guesstimate how far three miles is, set the trip odometer in your car to zero and drive around your neighborhood (or a favorite area) until you just exceed three miles. This will be your training area and your eventual running goal, so pick an area that’s safe and pleasant to exercise in. If you live in an urban setting and want to run in a more scenic area, check out this map of the best places to run in the Lehigh Valley, courtesy of Lehigh Valley Running Scene.

Running shoes

No matter what age you are, I can’t stress the importance of a good pair of running shoes, because every person’s feet are bio-mechanically different. A properly fitted shoe will keep you balanced, give you a greater ability to push off the running surface, and will absorb the kinetic force that would otherwise travel through your legs and fatigue your muscles prematurely. Here’s an earlier post which explains how to choose a good running shoe. To find a pair of shoes that fit you properly visit a store that specializes in this area such as The Finish Line Running Store in Emmaus or Aardvark Sports Shop in Bethlehem.

Stretching

Whether it’s a competition day or a training day, stretching exercises for your entire body are absolutely mandatory and are the first line of defense in protecting you from injury. Straining a muscle while running can be enormously painful (and inconvenient) and doing so while training can be the end of your 5K before you even begin. Strengthening these muscles may also help to prevent damage to bones, tendons and ligaments. Before each run, always perform these stretches for your legs, ankles and feet. Then, perform these stretches for your back, torso, and arms.

Begin by walking

Now that your muscles are properly warmed up, start walking your 5K/3 mile course, increasing your walking speed as you become more comfortable when your muscles warm up. Make sure you keep your hands out of your pockets – the swinging movement of your arms adds to your workout.

Walk every day this week, increasing your pace, but hold off on running until next week. And lay off the sweets and snack chips now. For our series of posts on training, proper diet, and conditioning your body for a race, check the running category on this blog. Good luck – we’ll see you September 16 at Coca-Cola Park!

If you strain a muscle or experience pain in your feet or ankles when you begin training, make an appointment with East Penn Foot and Ankle right away so we can keep you in the race.

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