Tips to help you run your first 5K

Friday, 13 May 2016

Considering how much I hated PE in school, it's funny to say that running is one of my passions in life now. I can honestly say that I love it and it's helped me feel so much better about my fitness. It's also something that has brought me and my Mum closer together, and it really kicked off my love of fitness in general.
I've been running for nearly 3 years now, and I've picked up a few tips and tricks along the way to help me run further. I've already completed a half marathon and am planning on doing a couple more this year. I run four times a week, with added hill work too, and usually do about 8-10kms. BUT you should have seen hopeless little me when I first started out! I've come a long way since then, and learned a lot about how to be a better runner. I'm no expert, but I am speaking from my experience and what I've found has really worked for me.

Here are my tips for running further for longer!

Slow and steady
When I first started running, it took me months to be able to run for a couple of miles at a time. It was tough and I still had no idea what I was doing. It wasn't until I started running with Mum that I realized my speed was what killed my chances of running the whole park. She's a slower runner than me, so when I ran at her nice, steady pace I was able to run the 5km I wanted in no time. 
When you're aiming for distance, remember that it's not a race! You can work on speed later, but mastering distance comes when you conserve some energy, stay at a controlled pace, and take it slower. Don't worry about the people running past you either, it's all about your own fitness out there.

It's all about your form  
If you ever watch a marathon race, you'll notice that long distance runners conserve a lot of their energy by having the right form, thereby they can run for longer. I know my own form probably isn't perfect all the time, but on days where I feel good it really helps me to run a long distance. It's far too often that I see people putting out too much energy by swinging their shoulders and striding out their legs are far as they can go. Just like at the gym, your form can make or break your results.
Make sure you are doing the following:

Stand up straight, like someone is pulling you up by a string
Don't move your arms too much, unless you need the momentum to rest your legs
Don't stride out too far, sometimes smaller steps are best. 

Sign up to fun events
Having a challenge to aim for and achieve is the fun part of fitness (yes, their is a fun side!) My Mum and Me have quite a few running events that we go to throughout the year and it keeps us training hard. There's usually one every couple of months, so we always think "Oh we have that run coming up, definitely need to put in some extra miles this week." It's added motivation to keep you going! These events are so great for being around like-minded people and achieving something not everyone can do. It's even better when you get a bunch of friends or family together to do it with you. You'll see people of all different levels there, so never feel like you're out of your league. There's always yummy food and coffee waiting at the end too!

Bribe yourself 
The reward system has not failed me yet and it was something I used when I first started running. When my goal was 5km, I promised myself I could go out and by an Instax polaroid camera. It was all I wanted and it made me go out on those colder days because I knew it was the only way to get it. Think of something you have been dying to buy for ages, whether it's a new eyeshadow palette, a pair of shoes, or going to your favorite restaurant and eating whatever you want. You can't have it until you reach your goal, so use it as motivation and get going!

Breathe through your stomach, not your chest
Any runner will tell you that it's not usually your legs that give out, but your lungs instead. Learning to breathe properly while running can take time, but when you master it your runs will become a lot more enjoyable. I asked my trainer how to control my breathing better and he explained how it's best to focus on it coming through your stomach, not your chest. All of your emotions are tied to your chest, so it only increases your chances of panicking. Everything gets tight and it makes your breathing hard to control. Instead, focus on breathing through your stomach to take deeper and calmer breaths of air to circulate your body. It will help, trust me!

Zone out  
This is what has gotten me through quite a few runs! It's not very nice when all you're thinking about is how far left to go, or how tired your legs feel. Quite often when I find a way to zone out, I forget that I'm even running and I've run half a kilometer without realizing. 
You can:

Listen to music
Chat to your friend as you run together
Admire the beautiful scenery around you
Have think of what delicious and healthy food you'll make afterwards

However you like to zone out best, use it to your advantage and you'll run even further than you think!

I hope this helps anyone who is giving running a go. It took some time, but I really enjoy going out with my Mum for a good run. Just remember that you WILL get fitter, you WILL get stronger, and you can do absolutely anything with enough persistence.

What are some of your current fitness goals?
Steph x.


  1. This is seriously so helpful, Steph! I knew about running slower rather than faster but I didn't know about breathing through the stomach. I'll need to focus on that more. And I do agree that zoning out is the best way! I always try to do that and I don't even notice how long I have run :)

    -Leta | The Nerdy Me

    1. Aw yay, I'm glad it helps! I always use that breathing technique when I start to hit a wall and it helps me every time. Agreed! I do love running, but sometimes I need to zone out to get through it haha
      Steph x.

  2. This is such a great post for me right now as I just downloaded that 0 - 5k app and am hopefully doing a 10k local race in September. I'm finding it it is slowly getting easier (I'm on week 5 now) and I'm actually starting to enjoy it which, as a total couch potato who had never set foot in a gym until 5 months ago, is really impressive to me!

    Really lovely the idea of buying yourself something for your goals, hadn't thought of that but am definitely going to start running for a pair or Raybans!!!

    And I wish I could chat while running...but I'm so busy nearly dying that I don't think that's possible...

    xx ❤ La Coco Noire

    1. That's awesome! You'll be doing great in no time. I love that you're enjoying it too, nice work! Raybans would be such a great reward, it makes it so satisfying when you actually go to buy them after hitting your goal.
      Haha you'll get there, don't worry! It me ages, but I kept going and now it's almost easy : ) Keep up the great work!
      Steph x.

  3. This post has come at a perfect time for me!! I'm running my first ever 5K in a couple of months time - I've always wanted to do it, but long distance running hasn't ever been something I would say I could do or knew how to do properly. I've been going out running for a few weeks now and have started following an app which has really helped with pacing, but I'm going to start implementing your breathing and form techniques now too! Thank you for sharing! :-)

    1. That's so awesome! I hope some of my tips help. I've heard those apps are really good. Keep working hard at it and you'll be awesome in the 5K!
      Steph x.

  4. This is going to be so helpful, thank you! I'm made a decision to start running - did my first 0.5m on Thursday evening and another Friday morning. I want to get up to a continuous mile by this time next week (Saturday).

    I'm not aiming for anything in particular - just want to feel healthier and more energetic!

    I definitely get the "lungs" thing - I thought my face was going to explode. Will look into the breathing from your lungs thing straight away! xx

    1. So glad I could help : ) It's so cool that you have started running! You'll get there, take it slow and zone out to some music to get you through. I honestly feel so much more energetic on days where I have run or been to the gym. I'm sure you'll feel better too : )
      Steph x.

  5. Love this post, I started from scratch in January this year and worked my way up to running 4-5km regularly, but then I had my final year uni exams and started my new job and it all went out the window :( SO I'm back at the bottom again and it feels so much harder! I'm going to try and keep all of these tips in mind on my next run!

    Kathleen | Made In The 1990s