Would you pay $80 to be chased by Zombies? What if that came with beer? What about $25 to run through the Denver Zoo for children's underwear? If you answered yes to any of these questions, we've got the top five tips to get you ready and registered for this summer's coolest 5K races, even if you can't run a mile!
Need an extra push for your first 5K? These Zombies should do it. Image by mebrett on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
- Eat the right food: Does running give you a stomach ache? It may have been that healthy low carb plate of veggies and steak you had for lunch. Carb lovers rejoice, for a sando triumphs the salad as the farer lunch selection for runners. Simply scrap any mayo or fatty sauces and swap your whole wheat slices for plain white (it's the easiest to digest) if the tummy monster does not go away. High fiber and animal fat laden foods should be avoided, as they are difficult to digest and can irritate your belly. A banana with peanut butter is a delicious and nutritious pre-run choice that is easy to make and digest. Post-run, reward yourself with a tall, cold glass of chocolate milk. The rule of thumb for replenishing energy and reducing muscle soreness is 1 gram of protein to 3 grams of carbs, which makes cocoa moo-juice a simple classic go-to.
- Get the right gear: Running will make you sweat, unless you are a genetic freak. In that case, you should seek medical help because you are full of toxins and may die. For the rest of us, investing in some moisture wicking clothing will go a long way. Certain materials like Nike DRI-fit and Under Armour Heat Gear will help you stay dry and comfortable and keep you from looking super gross at the supermarket afterwards. You don't need the fanciest, most expensive new running shoes on the market. A great way to figure out what kind of running shoes are best for you is to visit a store like Run By FootLocker, where a trained specialist will video tape your run on a treadmill and analyze what kind of runner you are. I did this and discovered that I over pronate, so they suggested an Asics gel brand that I never would have thought to purchase on my own. In true deal editor fashion, I went home and bought them online for far less than they were charging in the store (I tipped the guy though, I'm not that bad, but no judgement if you want to keep your cash). The best part? The analysis was free and my shin splints are far less painful than ever.
- Start slow. I always hear, "I can't even run around the block!" Well, that's a start! The best and easiest way to train is in intervals. While it's incredibly difficult to go from zero miles a day to 3.1 miles, it is an entirely attainable goal over the course of a month. Interval training is used by beginners and seasoned athletes alike, as it helps to build endurance and muscle strength. You can start by alternating running and walking your first mile, or running one day and walking the next. Check out these free interval training schedules at Runner's World.
- Make it fun with friends. Grab a pal and reach your goals together. It's tougher to bail on your workout when your bff is counting on you. Plus, misery loves company, and having someone you dig by your side may help assuage your negative feelings about running. Short on buds? CoolRunning has an extensive index of running clubs you can search by region, complete with reviews from other runners. Running apps like Map My Run serve as a great virtual "friend" that can help you track your progress and stay accountable and motivated.
- Listen to your body. I once ran a 5K with a fractured foot because I didn't want to disappoint my running partner (my brother). Also, I wanted to beat him (and I did). This is an example of taking the buddy system a step too far. I shouldn't have ran that race, because sure enough, my injury worsened. If something hurts, take a break. If something really really hurts (my foot did) go to the doctor to get the green light to keep up your pace.
Now that you're ready, book one of these bad daddies to ensure that your first time will be a memorable one:
- 2012 Underwearness Drop Your Drawers and Run Wild 5K: This self described "family event" aims to donate underwear and proceeds to children without a pair. Plus, you get to run through the Denver Zoo! July, 20, from $25.
- Fleet Feet Elvis is Alive 5K: This Chicago race starts in Grant Park and promises "more fun than a honeymoon in Vegas." You'll also get a tee and a goody bag. August 16, $30.
- Rugged Maniac 5K: With plenty of locations to choose from, maniacs across the nation will be able to compete in this muddle obstacle course while enjoying live music and some celebratory beer. Be safe though, kids. While beer does provide both protein and carbs, alcohol is dehydrating and not the best choice. If you insist on libations, make sure to have a big glass of water after every boozey cup. Dates vary by location, from $58.
- Run For Your Lives: In case you little a little more motivation, you can pay to be chased by zombies. There are four races in several states this summer, and though the pricing is a little steep, we are guessing some of that goes toward production value and/or to pay the real zombies. A T-shirt, one "free" beer, race medal access to the “Safe Zone,” and a live performance by more than 12 bands at the Apocalypse Party is included. Dates vary depending on location, around $80.
- The Damon Runyon 5K: The funds you raise go toward the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, and you get to run through the incredible new Yankee Stadium. It's fun, with giveaways for fans, and a good challenge: there are stairs, and lots of 'em. August 12, $40.
What's your favorite 5K? Tell us and share your training tips in the comments below!
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