It’s that time of the year again—when people make promises to themselves that are often not kept.  Good intentions often become just that for two reasons:

  1. The goals set are not specific enough.
  2. The goals are set too high.

In other words, “I want to get fit this year” is not specific enough because you haven’t decided how you’re going to accomplish your goal.  On the flip side, you don’t want to set your goals too high by saying “I want to run a marathon” if you’ve never run any considerable distance.  The 5K is perfect because you can train for it in less than 8 weeks. So if you’ve always wanted to run a 5K but never believed you could do it, now is the time to prove those thoughts wrong.

Train Your Mind

The very first thing you need to do is believe in yourself.  As adults, we sometimes get scared to learn new things.  But, just like it was when you were a kid, it can be fun to try new things.  When you learned how to ride a bike or paint with water color, they were things you’d never done before.  But you learned and you probably enjoyed it.

Before you go out for your first run/walk, visualize yourself running and crossing the finish line.  Do this every day—just for a few moments—it will make a difference.

Gear Up & Check Up

Invest in your body and buy a really good pair of running shoes.  Go to a store that specializes in running to get expert advice on the kind of shoes that would be best for you.  And it’s always a good idea to get an okay from your doctor before starting any kind of exercise program.

Train Your Body

According to most running experts, you can prepare for your first 5K in 6-8 weeks.  If you feel like you might need a bit longer, that’s okay.  Just follow the plan below, and before you know it, you’ll be running your first 5K.

  • Recruit a buddy.  It’s not only more fun to run with someone else, as buddies, you’ll hold each other accountable.
  • Choose your 5K.  Whether you decide to run for a charity or simply jog in a fun run, it’s important to know what you’re training for.  Put the date in your calendar and let the fun begin.
  • Start running!  Even if you can only run 2 minutes at a time, as you continue to train, you’ll find you can run a little more each day.  Schedule 3-4 training sessions per week and always start each run with an easy warm-up (such as walking 5-10 minutes).

Week 1:  Run (as slow as you want) for 1 minute then walk for 1 minute.  Do this for 20-25 minutes.  If you need to walk more than run, that’s okay.  Do what you can.

Week 2:  Run for 2 minutes then walk for 2 minutes.  Do this 5 times.

Week 3:  Run for 3 minutes then walk for 3 minutes.  Do this 5 times.

Week 4:  Run for 3 minutes then walk for 2 minutes.  Do this 5 times.

  • Include one “long run” day:  Aim for 15 minutes without stopping

Week 5:  Run for 4 minutes then walk for 3 minutes.  Do this 4 times.

  • Include one “long run” day:  Aim for 20 minutes without stopping

Week 6:  Run for 5 minutes then walk for 3 minutes.  Do this 3-4 times.

  • Include one “long run” day:  Aim for 25 minutes without stopping

Week 7:  Run for 8 minutes then walk for 3 minutes.  Do this 3 times.

  • Include one “long run” day:  Aim for 30 minutes without stopping

Week 8:  Run for 10 minutes then walk for 3 minutes.  Do this 3 times.

  • Include one “long run” day:  Aim for 32 minutes without stopping.

One of my best friends, Karen, is a self-professed “non-athlete” who became a runner later in her life.  She has completed numerous road races and marathons, and more importantly, has helped many other people start running.  She gives new runners two very important pieces of advice:

  1. Run what you can and walk what you can’t, but get out there and do it.
  2. You never regret exercise.

So make this year different from the others.  Whether you want to run a 5K or take a series of Pilates classes, set your goals, expectations and exercise plan accordingly.  Before you know it, you’ll be crossing the finish line with the realization that you can do anything you set your mind to.

Happy New Year,



Originally Published in  GlobalFit‘s GO! Newsletter