Running Your First 5K: Don’t Make These Two Mistakes

Avoid disappointment and defeat with a well-plotted plan

Frustration and fatigue; if you’re new to the sport of running, maybe you’re familiar with these two words. It’s likely because you’ve committed two notoriously common mistakes that lead lots of first-time runners to become all too familiar with those two cringe-worthy F words, making it extremely difficult for you to hold onto the desire to continue running.

It usually goes like this (and trust me, I know because I've been there): When you first strike up the idea that you want to start running, you're so psyched. You tell yourself you're going to run every day, you become thrilled with the idea of feeling more fit, you picture yourself effortlessly trotting through the park just like all the regular runners, and maybe you even go out and buy yourself a new pair of sneakers. But after just a few workouts, shin splints, that awful out-of-breath feeling, and Netflix calling your name make you start to curse the day you ever thought running was a good idea.

It doesn't have to be that way though. You can become a perfectly capable runner, one who loves the sport just as much as Kanye loves himself, without all of the pain and frustration. (OK, there may be a little bit of slight discomfort involved. But hey, nothing worth doing ever comes easy, right?) All you need is a well-plotted plan that includes plenty of rest and recovery.

In fact, the rest and recovery aspect is equally as important as the actual running itself. That's what most new runners don't know, and skipping out on it is what leads to the dreaded fatigue and frustration that drives most first-timers to quit before they reach their goal.

Aiming to run a 5K for the first time is an excellent goal. In fact, it's one of the most common New Year’s resolutions according to Benny Shaviv, CEO of Clear Sky Apps, which produces the 5K Runner: 0 to 5K Training app. He says the app's sales more than double on January 1st every year and it continues to see increased downloads through the start of every New Year.

If taking up running (no matter how far you eventually want to go) happens to be a goal of yours this year, steer clear of the two most common mistakes that lead to frustration and fatigue: running too much and running too fast.

The 0 to 5K app instructs users to run three days per week. No more and no less. “Sometimes runners will ask if they can add more to the app's program in order to get ahead and speed up the process,” says Shaviv. But he always tells them no. He says trying to do more than what the carefully planned program prescribes is the best way to run yourself right into the ground.

The second biggest mistake, according to Shaviv, is when beginner runners try to set pace goals for themselves. Typically, this will pressure you into running faster than you should, and by now I bet you can guess what that will lead to. I won’t say the “F words” again, but just remember that you want to avoid them like the plague.

Whether you're setting out to tackle the task of running for the first time, or you're making it your mission to finally conquer that 5K after a few failed attempts in the past, the best way to ensure success is to have a plan that maps out just the right amount of moderately-paced running over the course of about eight weeks.

For a closer look at the 5K Runner: 0 to 5K Training app, tune into our Fad Fitness Challenge coverage where one of our writers will divulge all the dirty details of training to run a 5K for the first time. Hopefully she’ll never have to utter either of the F words.