Thinking about taking on a 5K event this summer? You’re not alone! Take a quick poll of your closest family and friends and odds are at least a few of them have participated in a 5K event. According to Running USA, the total number of 5K participants in 2017 totaled 8.84 million; this figure represented 49% of all road race registrations across the United States and has remained consistent over the last several years.

So what’s the major draw for 5K events? There are a few major factors that contribute to the success of this challenging, yet realistic, fitness milestone for many. Let’s break them down and see if you’re willing to give your first 5K event a try this summer.

  1. Perfect Distance: Clocking in at 3.1 miles, the 5K distance is a great achievement for those just looking to set a health-related goal for themselves. While this distance may seem lofty to true beginners, there are a wide variety of training programs specifically designed for self-professed couch potatoes. A simple Google search of “Couch to 5K” programs pulls up hundreds of training plans that start with longer walking intervals interspersed with jogging bursts to work your way up to mostly jogging with walking breaks. Thanks to modern technology, you can download apps on your phone that can deliver these programs straight to your ears while you’re walking/jogging. Check out the FREE C25K app to help you jumpstart your training program!
  2. Open to All Ages & Abilities: Not a fan of running? That’s just fine! The majority of 5K races are open to runners and walkers of all ages and abilities. Statistics show that participants between the age ranges of 1-14 and 70-100 participate in the 5K distance more than any other event distance. This practice of inconclusiveness allows for entire families to participate in the event together whether you’re hitching a ride in a stroller or lacing up your tennis shoes with your grandchildren.
  3. Event Themes: Mud runs, color dashes, and wine strolls, oh my! The list of themed 5K events grows every year as new ideas are developed by race teams and directors. Have a favorite food or past time? Odds are there’s a 5K created highlighting that particular item. A few examples include the New York City Pizza Run with three pizza stops throughout its course and zombie runs that have been “rising” in popularity across the country.
  4. Minimum Investments: The registration cost for your average 5K is typically a nominal fee for in comparison to the longer distance events. In our corner of southwest Minnesota, the majority of 5K registration fees fall between the $15-$20 ranges. When it comes to equipment needed, any avid walker or runner will tell you that all you REALLY need is a good pair of walking shoes with plenty of cushion and support. Check out a sporting goods store or a specialty running store to get a customized shoe fitting to ensure your feet stay healthy and strong. A good pair of running shoes will typically last between 300-500 miles so you should be set for at least a few events if you’re staying active!

The BEST part of participating in a 5K event is that you likely won’t have to travel very far to find one near you! Even here in rural Minnesota, the summer racing season is quickly approaching for you to try a friendly neighborhood 5K in your community OR, if you’re a veteran 5K participant, challenge yourself to reach a better time or finish stronger. The first local 5K is the 23rd Annual Vickie Schendel Memorial Fun Run coming up on Saturday, June 8th down at Island Park; this family-friendly event truly offers something for the entire family to partake in from our free kids’ fitness activities all the way to our featured 5K walk/run PLUS a Strong by Zumba warm-up offered by our Wellness Center instructor, Jenn Fast, to get your body primed for your 5K. Join us on June 8th to start your summer running season off on the right foot. Click HERE to learn more or to register!

Blog Post Written By: Amber Hughes, Community Health & Wellness Coordinator

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