Running a 5K is serious feather in anyone's cap, especially if you have to juggle child care with training on the way to your first race. But when you have kids to worry about, fitness is often placed on back burner. That's why running is paradoxically perfect for moms; you can do it on your own time and around your crazy schedule. By making the goal to train for a 5K, you can work to stay on track and train frequently, while still having plenty of time to tend your little ones. Whether you're super-fit or you're a beginner, a 5K shouldn't be out of your reach.
The first thing you need to do to get yourself ready to train is to locate and register for a 5K race in your area. Actually registering for a race helps to light a fire so that you're more likely to train regularly. Give yourself ample time to train before the 5K; most 5K training programs take about six weeks, so aim for that time frame. If you register for a race too soon, you might not have the time to train. Set it too far in advance and you could lose your motivation. If you're still worried about staying motivated, find a mom friend who can run with you. Having a running partner makes you more accountable so you're less likely to flake out on a workout when your child is up late or your schedule is hectic.
A 5K beginner needs the right gear to make running a regular habit, which means supportive running shoes. Your regular sneakers probably won't cut it when it comes to hardcore training, so head to a fitness or running store and get yourself fitted with supportive, light running shoes. Also, if you plan on taking your kids along for the ride, you'll need to invest in a sturdy jogging stroller with all of the right safety specs: A five-point harness, hand brake and wrist strap should all be included.
The most effective 5K training plans use interval training to gradually condition your body to the rigors of running. This ensures that you see steady progress on your runs and keep motivation high. For instance, on your first day, start by walking for one mile. Then, run for three minutes for each half-mile, always slowing back to a walk during the second half mile. Continue this pattern for your first week. The next week you train, see if you can increase your running time to running five minutes and then walking five minutes. The third week, see if you can increase your run time to seven minutes and so on. As you condition your body, running for longer periods should become easier.
When you have kids to take care of, you can't always train regularly. Check your schedule and see where you have free time. If you must, get up before the kids awake and go for an early morning run, or run after dinner. If you need to take your child with you, choose a time when he's typically content, such as right after a nap.
Ideally, you should be training three times per week, with weight training twice per week to build up your strength. If you miss a day, don't let it ruin your progress; instead, rearrange your schedule and go the next day. In the space of six weeks, you should be able to easily run for an entire 5K. Who knows? It could be the catalyst for a lifelong love of running and making time for yourself to exercise.