Five Tips for Your First 5K!


Emily Loughridge

The Loughridge family, including Emily, Ryan, and Shanna, ran their first 5K of 2023.

Emily Loughridge, Editor-in-Chief

I am not a seasoned runner, and I have not run consistently since high school. Why start here? So, you’d know that I wasn’t lying to you and giving you all these glorified tips for running. In 2023, my goal is to complete five 5Ks and run at least one of them. Yet, the ability to run 3.1 miles does not happen overnight.

My dad and I bought Apple watches around this time last year, and it motivated him to start his running journey. He started slowly with a mile or so, and gradually worked his way up to where he is now. Which I find very impressive because he can now comfortably run four miles or so. Towards the end of 2022, he began competing in 5Ks. This is where he caught my attention because I was in competitive sports for so long. Since I have been in college I have missed that competitive feeling. So, in December, I began running with my family at home and then proceeded to sign up for not one, or two, but three 5Ks before the end of March. Talk about being an overachiever! Yet, I have already hit a few snags and found a few tips for those, like me, who were a little too eager about their 2023 resolutions.


  1. Don’t push too hard, too soon

You might laugh, but I learned this the hard way. My dad and I set up a competition for the first week of the year and I pushed myself a little harder than I needed to. It did pay off because I won the competition. My advice though is to know your body’s limits and take rest days if you need them. I believe in pushing yourself, but knowing when to stop is a good thing. There are no benefits to training hard if you’re just going to injure yourself and lose your progress.

For example, I can comfortably run a mile. So, once I feel like that is easy, then I will move to 1.5 miles, and so on. Pushing myself too hard would mean I would try to jump from one mile to four in less than a week, or running too many days in a row without a rest day.


  1. Do it with friends!

A cliché statement maybe but it is true: everything is better with friends! Training with friends allows you to make the habit easier, spend time with someone you are close to, and have a little friendly competition. I have always struggled with staying motivated to run on my own, but now that my family and I have a friendly competition, it has been a lot easier to run more often.


  1. Make it fun, make it challenging

If you dread getting up and running, then you will never do it. Which defeats the entire purpose! Make a friendly bet or make a game out of how far you can run without stopping. There are a number of ways to make it fun! You can also challenge yourself to run farther or faster than yesterday. The advice is just finding a reason to do it, or else you will make up a million and one excuses for why you should stay on the couch. Taking the first step can take you a long way.


  1. Prepare for the weather

If conditions were perfect then we would all be running in 70-degree weather with a slight, cool breeze. Yet, if you have stepped outside in Oklahoma recently, then you know that is simply not a possibility. My first race of this year is mid-January which means I need to be used to running in colder weather before the race begins. Another tip is to know when your race begins, if you have a set competition, because the weather is much warmer in the early afternoon. However, most competitive 5Ks begin around nine or ten in the morning. The same advice can be given for races in the other seasons as well.


  1. Prepare yourself

You burn a lot of energy while running so you need to make sure that you are eating enough before and after running to keep yourself healthy. The same goes for drinking, and I do mean water. Dehydration is no joke. Drinking four iced coffees a day and then attempting to run a 5K would not be a smart plan. Another important point is to get enough sleep before you go running. If you are stumbling and exhausted you putting yourself at a higher risk of injury. A good night’s rest can go a long way. I encourage you to take care of your body as much as you can because running is very hard on our bodies.


These five tips are enough to get you started on your running journey, but I encourage you to do your own research before starting. Again, if you want to test the waters of competitive running then sign up for a 5K and walk it. A lot of people walk 5Ks for exercise and to spend time with friends. You can look up different runs all across the state, many are at local parks and have themes to go along with them. I think a good company to begin looking at is Red Coyote. They promote a running community, host several races across the year, provide a shirt to those who sign up, and a medal for completing a 5K. Sometimes they opt for beanies during the wintertime, but they’ve very encouraging to everyone, no matter where they are in their running journey.

I had my first race of 2023 on Sunday, and I am proud to say that I set a new personal best! I beat my previous time by almost two and a half minutes. I also placed first in my age group and 16th overall. The sense of accomplishment and pride you get from completing a difficult task is unlike any other. Now, it’s time to lace up those shoes and start your journey!


Emily Loughridge is a second-year Communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.