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Why You Don't Have to Be a Pro to Run a 5K

Even if you've never run a mile in your life, you can have so much fun doing your first 5K.

Art Credit: Trcanje Rs

I signed up for my first 5k a few years ago with an ominous feeling in the pit of my stomach. What was I getting myself into? Me, the girl who could barely run a mile without collapsing? Needless to say, despite my pre-race jitters I ended up having a great time and became motivated to up my running game to the next level. If you, too, balk at the idea of running at all, much less three miles, have no fear. Even if you’ve never run a mile in your life, completing a 5k is not only possible, but also very fun with the right training. There are many reasons to lace up those gym shoes and run your first 5k:

01. Experience

You don’t have to be a seasoned runner. 5ks attract runners of all ages and experience levels, so you’ll likely be running alongside fellow first-timers. And there are usually plenty of people taking breaks to walk throughout the race, so you won’t be alone if you do need to slow down the pace at some point during your run.

02. Training

Getting ready for a 5k doesn’t require working out for insane amounts of time every day. You can break down your training into very manageable thirty-minute sessions. An added bonus: Besides preparing you for the run, this routine helps develop a habit of regular exercise and leaves you in great shape by race day!

03. Availability

5ks happen everywhere in every season. You’ll probably be surprised by how many runs are taking place within a reasonable distance of you.

04. Charity

Many 5ks raise money for charitable causes. So by participating in one you’re not only achieving your goal of running three miles but also helping those in need.

05. Fun

At your typical 5k you’ll find great camaraderie amongst runners and enthusiastic encouragement from onlookers. People will be cheering you on almost every step of the way. More often than not, you'll also receive a T-shirt in the bargain. Who doesn’t love fun T-shirts?

06. Finishing

Whether it’s your first race or your hundredth, the feeling you get when you cross the finish line never grows old. It’s something that everyone should experience at least once in her life.

Thanks to a slew of fun races that have been popping up all over the country lately, running a 5k is easier and more fun than ever. Here’s a list to get you started:

The Color Run

This 5k that’s been taking the nation by storm over the past couple years is nothing but pure fun from beginning to end. At various points along your run, you’ll be sprayed with clouds of different-colored paint. It’s impossible to not look like a living rainbow by the time you cross the finish line. And the post-run party includes lots of food, music, and a spectacular colorful finish for all participants.

Electric Run

What’s not to love about running at night by glow stick light? At this exciting twist on the traditional 5k, pump-it-up music and flashing neon decorations accompany you along every mile.

Bubble Run

The Bubble Run’s website describes this event as “5 kilometers of frothy goodness.” Participants run through four different “Foam Bogs,” which completely envelop them in bubbly foam of various colors.

Hot Chocolate 5K

Called “America’s Sweetest Race,” this 5k holds plenty of motivation to go three miles: a massive amount of chocolate goodness awaits every runner! At the finish line runners receive mugs full of hot chocolate and are treated to all the chocolate fondue they want. A 15k option is also available.

For more tips on training for your first 5k, check out the Mayo Clinic’s guide.