In any given city, on any given weekend, early in the morning, you're bound to find a 5K race. Often, the race is a fundraiser, and the field of participants range from fit to flabby. People enter 5Ks for various reasons -- to cross it off their "bucket lists," to support the cause the race supports or simply to collect another commemorative T-shirt.
Beginning runners make it their goal to reach the finish line. Advanced runners often use 5Ks to train for bigger races. And seasoned walkers enjoy taking on the 3.1 mile course when the 5K's sister event, the "1 mile fun run," isn't challenging enough.
If you're an intermediate runner, then you probably pound the pavement about five times a week, but may not be breaking any records. Maybe you've mapped out a 3 to 5 mile (4.8 to 8 kilometer) route through your neighborhood. Or perhaps you hop on the treadmill and run while you catch the evening news. That's fine, but it may not win you any races or help you to break any personal bests.
For you, participating in a 5K race should be not only enjoyable, but also challenging; and no matter what your motivation for entering a race is, training is key to a successful, injury-free run. The intermediate runner -- someone who runs about 15 to 40 miles (24.1 to 64.3 kilometers) weekly and has a strong cardiovascular system -- enters a 5K race as an opportunity to begin training for improved speed and fitness.
At the end of the day, when the bananas and orange slices are gone, even if you don't post a personal record, you'll feel good knowing you gave it your best and supported a good cause. But if you're looking for more than a commemorative T-shirt, how should you train?
We'll dig into that on the next page.