How To Run A 5K In 8 Easy Steps

Last updated on September 15, 2011 by Liza Hawkins

This summer I decided that after 10 years of not exercising, it was time to start again. Don’t get me wrong; while I do spend a lot of time on the computer, I also spend a lot of time running around.
Not literally running around, but constantly moving – busy job that’s not tied to a desk, two young kids, townhouse with three flights of steps…you get my drift. That’s a lot of exercise!
Except at my last doctor’s visit, my doctor informed me, “Liza, none of that is exercise; it’s activity.”
I have a number of friends who are runners, and it seems each year I get older, the number grows exponentially. I’m not really sure why, so the only thing I can figure is that it’s relatively inexpensive, and doesn’t require driving to a gym.
Plus, runners all seem obsessed with running. Like they crave it. Right?
So, back in the last week of July, I decided to start running.
But before I started, I polled my runner friends to find out all the things I’d need to know beforehand – because I don’t like surprises, and I also have no time to do due diligence of my own. (A nice mixture of lazy and busy.)
Guess what? On Sunday, September 11th, 2011, I ran my first 5K in 35:48 – not too shabby! My sister-in-law ran it with me (she just had a baby four months ago; how fabulous is she?!), and we snapped before and after shots (I’m in the blue). It was hard – really, really difficult – but we did it. And in a respectable time too. I’m proud of us!

Here are are the 8 easy steps I found worked best for a beginner with a 5K goal:

  1. Use the Couch to 5K Program – also known as #C25K – and pay for the upgrade on your phone or iPod. I found posting to Facebook at the end of each day was a motivator for me, and also a way for me to stay focused. The whole “people are watching” thing can really keep you going….
  2. Stick to the C25K program and give yourself the nine weeks to get through it. They’re the experts, people, and even though you may want to skip ahead, don’t. I signed up for my first 5K and only had six of the nine weeks in C25K complete – I finished the 5K, running all but a minute or two, but had I trained for the full nine weeks, I probably would have rocked that first 5K!
  3. Drink lots of water the day before. I kept getting those pesky side stitches, and one of the reasons was because I wasn’t tanking up with enough H2O the day before I ran. Imagine that!
  4. Focus on breathing. I had no idea how important breathing would be, and how not breathing correctly would be another cause of those pesky side stitches. Think Lamaze breathing – in through the nose, out through the mouth. Eeeh-eeeh, hooh-hooh. Whatever. It works.
  5. Buy good running shoes. Like, go to a running store, have someone fit you for running shoes, and buy them. The ones that aren’t on sale. The ones that might cost over $100. Your feet and legs will thank you.
  6. Buy good running socks that aren’t cotton. Again, your feet will thank you.
  7. Grab a running buddy. See the first step in regards to motivation and accountability.
  8. Sign up for a 5K. Best advice given to me out of anything. Without a concrete goal, and $25 invested in a race, chances are you’ll give up. I’m being serious here. Check out for races near you!
Good luck!

Hi, I'm Liza — a self-proclaimed word-nerd who loves getting lost in whimsical stories and epic movies. I have laid-back, practical attitude towards life and am always on the hunt for good eats, easy recipes, binge-worthy shows, relaxing road trip destinations, the perfect fizzy gin cocktail, and time to finish my novel!

5 Comments on “How To Run A 5K In 8 Easy Steps

  1. Congratulations! I am a running addict myself…

    & the hardest part is getting out the front door. It’s nice to have a running buddy.

    🙂 You look great!

  2. I love running. When I did the couch to 5k program a few years ago, I blogged my entire journey- from that program to a half marathon!,

    It was the best experience….I miss running. After that half, I slacked off, got pregnant…had 2 kids…and now I am craving the feeling of pavement under my very cushioned shoes 🙂

  3. @Annie How did your 5K go??

    @Erica I remember your running journey! Didn’t realize you made it to the 10K (half-crazy) league. Impressive! Not sure I can get my head there yet, but blogging about it is a good idea.

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