Your first 5K

In less than 2 weeks the Run for the Roses will take place in La Grange Park.  This race has been a tradition for 25 years.  Many of the runners who will toe the line on May 20, 2017 will be veteran runners, some having run each year since 1991.  For all the runners and walkers who have never done a 5K race, I want to give you a few tips to preparing for your first 5K.  And I hope you decide to sign up for the Run for the Roses.

Congratulations on making the decision to do a 5K.  Regular aerobic exercise will not only improve your cardiovascular health and help you lose weight, it will help you reduce stress, boost your energy levels, and give you a sense of well-being and maybe even happiness.

Some of the fears I’ve heard about running a 5K are often the hardest part to getting started.  Fears about being too out of shape or being too slow might stop you from making it to the starting line.  You might be out of shape but finishing a 5K means your not as out of shape as the person who didn’t show up to the race.  And as for being the slowest, so what if you are?  The police car will be behind you and there will still be people cheering you on.  And you get a shirt.


Running is a mental game as much as a physical one and sometimes the mental challenges are more overwhelming.  Preconceived notions of what a runner should look like discourages some new runners.  I am always surprised and amazed by the shape, size, age, and shoe choice when I step up to the starting line.  You never know by looking who is faster than you.  Someone once beat me in a race wearing flip flops!

If you have doubts are stopping you from doing a race, stand along the sidelines of any local 5K and observe the wide range of people who participate. You'll see teenagers and grandparents, sizes petite to plus.

Having a support system, whether it's a friend, family or running club, can make training less daunting and ultimately more rewarding. For the Run for the Roses we are running every Tuesday night from Active Souls at 6:00 PM.  Erin is leading us on the run of the racecourse. We plan to keep the run club going as long as people are interested.

The morning of the race, plan to get there early to find parking, get to the start line, and warm up.  You can pick up your packet Thursday, Friday, or the day of the race. You will get a race bib which is a piece of paper with your race number, a chip, and 4 holes in each corner to affix it to your shirt.  You will get a race shirt.  I’ve heard it’s bad luck to wear your race shirt during the race but you can test that superstition if you want.  Finally you’ll get a coupon book with coupons for you to get discounts from our sponsors.

During the race, break it down into 4 parts, the first mile, the second mile, the third mile, and the last 10th.  Having these milestones will make the race feel less daunting.  Each time you pass a mile marker, you could make it a point to give a whoo-hoo, high five a spectator, or tell the person next to you how good they look.  The last 10th mile, don’t stop and pick up your pace all the way through the finish line.  This will be a slight uphill finish and the trick is to stay strong and keep your eyes on the finish.   

Participating in the race will give you a great sense of pride and accomplishment.  See you at the races.