1. Pick an appropriate training schedule:
Begin your training where your fitness level is right now. Just like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, it has to be just right- not too hard and not too easy. Your workouts should challenge you slightly; some moments may feel hard, but doable. You should feel a sense of accomplishment when done, not total exhaustion.
2. Time of day:
Exercise first thing in the morning, if possible. Set out your clothes the night before, set the alarm, get up and go before you even have time to think about it. When we exercise at the end of the day, we have all day to talk ourselves out of it! Fatigue, family, or work commitments can often interfere with even the best of intentions.
3. Be accountable:
Recruit a running partner, join a running group, log your workouts online, or use a journal to track progress. Tracking daily mileage, pace, and/or weekly volume can be helpful. Knowing you are meeting up with a running group or partner can keep you on track too. You can also incorporate rewards. For example, when you meet the weekly mileage, reward yourself with a pedicure, a massage, or some new running clothes.
4. Goal setting:
Break your 5K goal down into smaller segments. Focus on running for short time intervals or short distances like a 1/4 of a mile first, rather than the entire 3 miles. Increase the distance or time you run in small segments. Register for a race so you have a commitment on the calendar. Also, look ahead to sign up for future races to help keep you training. Target something that interests you or challenges you- like a trail race, a longer distance, or a destination race to keep things interesting!
5. Objective measurements:
Measure your resting heart rate, blood pressure, weight, percent body fat, and/or circumference measurements to help track your transformation along with tracking your mileage. Seeing change can help keep us on track. In your training journal, note how your clothes fit and how you feel- do you have more energy throughout the day? Are you sleeping better? Note even the most subtle changes!