Charity runs are a great inspiration for many to take up a more active lifestyle. Who can resist the combination of raising money for your favorite cause and doing something good for your own health? And if you’re part of a team of your family, friends, or coworkers, there’s a wonderful community aspect as well.

Once the initial excitement of signing up wears off, though, you’re left with the reality that you now have to train for a 5K! If you haven’t run since your high school PE class, it may feel like a daunting proposal. But don’t let yourself get overwhelmed – you can do it, and it will probably be easier than you think, and training can be as much fun as the event you’re aiming for.

Of course, before you begin training, check in with your doctor, especially if you haven’t had a physical lately. Find out if any of your pre-existing health conditions may impact how you train.

Now that you have your doctor’s go-ahead, it’s time to decide how to train!

Apps are one way to train. The “Couch to 5K” app (often abbreviated C25K by enthusiasts) will give you a guided interval training program. By alternating walking and running sections, you’ll slowly build your endurance.

If you don’t find that apps serve as a good motivator, consider training with a running buddy. Set up a regular date and time to meet and train – it helps if they’re doing the same event as you so that you both have the same deadline to work towards. The important thing is to always run whether or not they can join you. Keep your eye on the prize!

Your kids or dog can also be your running buddies. Invest in a good jogging stroller to make your youngest children part of your training. If you plan to jog with your dog, you might also want to check with your vet first, especially if your dog is a smaller breed, older, or has existing health issues. Personally, I tried doing C25K with my two corgis but found that their short legs didn’t let them keep up as the running portions got longer and my speed increased!

Even better than a buddy can be joining a running group. The De Novo Harriers are a great NJ-based group that welcomes runners of all levels of experience and helps them train towards their goals, whether it’s a 5K, 10K, or even an ultra marathon. Groups like this are a great resource for motivation, advice, and new friends.

One key to success with any training program is consistency. Look into the idea of habit stacking to make your running practice a normal part of your day. What can serve as your signal to run? Will you go as soon as you get up in the morning? On your lunch break? Or right after getting home from work?

Whenever you choose to train, make it easier for yourself by having your workout clothes and running shoes ready to go! Many people who train in the morning find it easier to get going if they’ve laid out their outfit the night before. I even know one person who sleeps in her workout clothes so she has no excuse not to train as soon as she gets out of bed.

Remember, you can do this! We’re cheering for you. Be sure to stop by our Facebook page to let us know what race you’re training for and check back often to see which causes we’re supporting. We’d love to see you there!