Many new runners are excited about getting into the sport and becoming a part of the supportive, energetic and wonderful running community. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm is frequently derailed by injuries. By no fault of their own, many new, uncoached runners head out blindly. There are lots of C25K plans out there, each one with same goal: to get you from your couch to a 5k Finish Line. The problem is knowing which one is right for you. Here’s how to approach any C25K or beginner running program and keep your training low stress, high reward and injury free.
Run for minutes, not miles. Running for minutes ensures you get the designated time you need logged, which is more important than how far you actually travel. Aerobic capacity is the amount of oxygen your body can use during a specific period, especially those of intense exercise. The better yours is, the further and faster you can go. Aerobic capacity is not built with interval training, but rather with long, sustained moderate efforts. Running for minutes allows you to find this zone and build your base without stressing out or feeling pressured about how far you’ve gone.
By running for minutes, not miles you also decrease the intimidation factor. An additional 5 or 10 minutes each week is much friendlier than adding as much as two miles. Two miles?!? That’s a long way and can take a long time. Having success by adding 5 or 10 minute time increments will help you stay motivated, see the weekly successes you deserve and steer clear of injury.
Staying injury free is the most important part of any training plan, be it a C25K or marathon, and new runners who concentrate on miles alone tend to increase their weekly mileage too quickly. Putting lots of new miles on legs that aren’t ready can result in injuries ranging from shin splints to stress fractures. When running for time, not distance is the focus of your plan, you’ll gradually add minutes, and miles, while being less likely to rush and get hurt.