Whether you are a seasoned runner/walker or just a beginner, you can optimize your performance and enjoyment of the event by combining psychological, emotional and physical training strategies.
While physical training is fundamental to successful competition, so is nutritional and psychological preparation. Our minds and bodies are connected in ways we can’t easily articulate and the way we think and feel impacts the way our bodies perform. You should ease into your 5K training plan gradually. The idea is to transform your mind/body into a regular routine of fitness before the run/walk. An important point to remember is that everyone is different. We often compare ourselves to others and that’s where we get into trouble. If you truly focus on your connection with your mind and body you will reach your goal.
Each session should take about 20 to 30 minutes daily, or three times a week if you are a beginner. Again, it starts with your attitude….When you wake up every morning you should think about what your plan is for the day….what is your course of action and then follow your individual plan.
Most importantly, listen to your body and have fun!
Week 1—Psychological Strategies:
Mentally Prepare Yourself for the Race by Dr. Gretchen A. Boules
You may want to head down to the actual race route and walk the distance. Get a feel for the terrain and absorb your surroundings. Think about your body and how it responds to various stimuli. Focus on how you plan to run or walk it and any walking or running techniques that you plan to use over the course of the race. Again, the beginning is all mental. However, taking a look at the place where you will race will help you get a handle on your goals in an anxiety free situation. If you are not a seasoned walker or runner it is nice to check out the site and get a feel for it. When you are not anxious you take better notes in your mind as to what to expect. Synchronize your gait with your breathing.
Week 1—Let’s Get Physical:
Increase Strength and Flexibility by Colette Gilbertson
Stretching for 5 minutes each day will improve balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. And this means you’re less likely to injure yourself in other physical endeavors or in your daily activities. Whether you are running or walking in the 5K Run/Walk, the following 2 stretches will help build leg strength. Make sure you stretch within yourself. In other words, stretch as far as you can without pain and/or losing balance. For now, let your body tell you what to do!
Forward Fold Stretches hamstrings and back. Be sure to engage your abdominal muscles when folding forward.
Downward Dog Pose Mild inversion, leg strength, and stretches the para spinal muscles. This is my favorite pose to warm up the entire body.
A Nutritious Tip of the Week:
We have all been told to drink 6/8 glasses of water per day. Do we need that much? The answer is yes if you are an active person. Remember if you are thirsty your body is already dehydrated. Carry a water bottle throughout the day and sip at least every hour. During exercise hydrate when needed, don’t forget to hydrate after extreme exercise to prevent muscle cramping. One more tip, if you are drinking tap water be aware that most municipalities add fluoride and chloramines which are chemicals. If you are not a water fan, make your own fresh lemonade or ice tea.
Week 2—Psychological Strategies:
Psych Yourself Up! by Dr. Gretchen A. Boules
So, what does that mean? OK…you have already decided on doing the race, you know where it is and have perhaps walked the area…so you know what to expect. You are already making some physical and nutritional changes towards your end goal…so now you need to tell yourself that you are a winner! Again, this is a mindset! You are a winner and that you will accomplish YOUR goal. It may be simply walking 1 mile (if you are a beginner) or really improving your running time if you are seasoned. This is a time to use positive self-talk. BE CONFIDENT in your abilities and focus on your skills and not the other racers. This may be a daily meditation where you give yourself these positive messages – perhaps once when you start the day and before bed when you end the day.
Week 2—Let’s Get Physical:
Winning Yoga Poses! by Colette Gilbertson
Plank Pose The Plank Pose is for core strength, and leg strength. Have your shoulders on the same plane as your hips. Hug into the mid line and hold for 5 breaths, or you could do a few mini push ups in this pose to challenge your core.
Cobra Pose This pose opens the heart and lungs. Roll your shoulders onto your back body and place your hands close to your body. On an inhale, lift your upper body off the mat. You can stay here for 5 breaths. Keep your elbows bent in this pose and press your lower body into the mat. This is a great stretch for the abdominal muscles as well.
A Nutritious Tip of the Week:
Sodium or Salt Intake
Too much sodium is not good for you. It is known to cause obesity and high blood pressure. Sodium is in everything. Why? Because it makes food taste better. Start to read labels and know how much sodium you are getting and use the salt shaker sparingly at best. Sun dried sea salt unprocessed is a great alternative and contains ten essential nutrients that are good for the body. You can get this at any health food store. Hint, this salt is gray in color, table salt has been bleached, another reason to avoid.
Week 3—Psychological Strategies:
Let Go of Any Fears by Dr. Gretchen A. Boules
Our fears and angst can creep up and really bring us down. When you find that a fear pops up in your mind i.e. I will never be able to do it, I injured myself before, I am scared, I will be the final person at the finish line, I feel nervous when people pass me up, I lose my confidence when I see others in better physical condition, etc.—the list goes on! When those fears come into your mind—that is where “thought stopping” can be really helpful.
“Thought stopping” is where you notice a negative thought creep in and you stop it immediately in your head. Then, you replace the negative thought with a more positive thought. For example, a perfect way to negate the thought, I lose my confidence when I see others in better physical condition is to say to yourself: At least I am here and I am making positive changes towards better health! It is a start and who knows where it can take me!
Week 3—Let’s Get Physical:
Be a Warrior! by Ms. Colette Gilbertson
Warrior 2 Pose
This pose is for focus and strength, please add to your daily fitness routine. This pose is part of a sun salutation shown on our website if you want to see it in sequence. Hold this pose for 5 full breaths.
Warrior 3 Pose
This is a balance pose which is also for focus and leg strength. This pose makes you turn inward and really lets you be in the moment. I would recommend this pose in your fitness routine also. This pose can be done with arms out like wings or a T shape which is an easier balance pose. Hold this pose for at least 3 full breaths, or whatever you can manage. Don’t over do it—let your body tell you what to do!
A Nutritious Tip of the Week:
Carbohydrates: Which is Better? Simple or Complex?
Simple carbs are all white foods, milk, sugar, rice, pasta, and flour. They break down quickly in the body and turn to sugar, giving you a rush of energy and then a few hours later you will crave more of these foods, or what we all call “snack attack”. The better choice is complex carbs. Complex carbs break down slowly in the body without raising your blood sugar and give you long lasting energy. Examples of these foods are: spinach, broccoli, beans(all kinds), skimmed milk and legumes. So which carbs are you going to choose?