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Two runners at a 5K race.

How to gear up for a 5K race

Running a 5K race is a great way to get a healthy dose of exercise this spring.  If you are a new runner, establish a training program before the race to reduce your risk of injury. Harrison Goodno, M.D., a sports medicine physician at Piedmont Newton, shares six ways to gear up for a 5K.

1. Incorporate a warm-up and cool-down into your routine. A good 10 to 15 minute warm-up can enhance your performance and prevent injuries. Dynamic stretching and walking slowly allows your muscles, bones and joints to prepare for more intense exercise. Warm-ups also make it easier to sustain your run.

Cooling-down after a workout is even more important than warm-ups. 

“After a run, don’t stop cold,” says Dr. Goodno. “Continue to move a little bit and have a good post-stretching routine.”  

2. Stay hydrated.  “I always tell people to drink 12 ounces of water every two to four hours before exercise and 6 to 12 ounces for every 20 minutes of exercise if they are running for more than an hour,” says Dr. Goodno.  “A good way to keep tabs on your fluid status is to monitor the color of your urine.  Make sure it’s a good, healthy yellow color, not dark.”

3. Make sure you are heart healthy. Before you start a new running, it’s a good idea to check in with your primary care doctor. If you have any prior heart history or lung disease, you should consult your doctor before running to make sure you are healthy enough to engage in strenuous exercise.

4. Don’t run through pain. “Most runners experience mild discomfort at some point and that’s okay,” says Dr. Goodno. “But you should hold off if you have any pain that persists throughout your run.”

If you are starting a new running program, don't increase your mileage more than 10 percent each week and take an extra day off if needed. 

Dr. Goodno says it’s also best to take a day off if you are sick and have a cold or fever.

5. Find the right shoe. It’s important to choose a shoe based on comfort and shoe structure rather than a brand name.

Dr. Goodno recommends purchasing shoes from a runner-specific store.

“Most running stores can look at your gait to see how you run,” he says. “They can also help you find good over-the-counter orthotics if needed.”

Dr. Goodno says you should change your shoes every 300 to 500 hundred miles and always use reflective wristbands and headlamps when running in the dark.

6. Get a good night’s sleep.  The better you sleep, the better you run. Running is physically taxing on the body. A good night’s sleep allows your body to recover.

Learn more about exercise and nutrition from Piedmont's health care experts.

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