How to Actually Accomplish the “Couch to 5K” Transformation: Tips from a Amateur Marathoner

Okay, so only half of the title is true for now (unless you happen to be reading this article after my marathon in the first week of October, in which case, I probably did it!), but truth or not, the fact that I am still only on the novice level is painfully obvious. During my sophomore year, I wanted to run a marathon more than anything, despite the fact that I couldn’t even run the two-mile loop of my neighborhood. Miraculously, I’ve followed through on that goal, even though I was doubted by many, including myself. However, I had to learn a lot over the past two years, but I’m going to make it easy for you. If you’re looking for a way to stay healthy and active during this virtual semester, but you don’t know how to start your journey, look no further!

Four Small Things That Will Make a Big Difference When Starting a New Running Routine:

1- A Pair of Shoes That Are Actually Meant for Running

You shouldn’t be whipping out the Nike Air Force Ones for any distance over a mile. Trust me. Finding a pair of shoes that will support your feet will enhance your first experience hitting the pavement more than you would think! Contrary to popular belief, it is entirely possible to find a supportive pair of shoes that will last a relatively long time without breaking the bank. I suggest Brooks, since they provide enough spring and support and also are easy on the wallet. However, know that these shoes are not immortal. Most pairs will last about 500 miles, so don’t run the soles into the ground if you want to have an enjoyable first running experience; your shins will thank me later.

2- A HUGE Water Bottle

Hydration is KEY, and finding the correct ways to refuel and replenish your body takes some experimenting. Nevertheless, you don’t want a few miles to leave you feeling drained of electrolytes. Planning your running route around where you can find water fountains, or using a loop path and stashing a bottle in a bush, will allow you to run further without experiencing muscle fatigue or cramping! Being dehydrated on a run, especially a long one, will leave the inside of your mouth feeling like the Sahara desert, so when in doubt, drink more water than you think you will need. Aim for 1/2 to 1 cup of water per mile! Some runners also find it helpful to use a supplementary source of electrolytes to help replenish those lost in sweat, so finding ways to integrate electrolyte tablets or water enhancers into your running routine may help your body adjust to your new running lifestyle. Of course, there is always the trusty Gatorade, especially the red one. 

3- A Plan

Sign up for a race. Just do it! Commit to a distance and time frame that works for you, and find a training plan with variety. Setting a goal and committing to making it to the start line is the best way to motivate yourself into actually putting in the work! There are a lot of organizations offering virtual races this season, due to a lot of in-person races being canceled. These are modified, virtual versions that allow you the freedom to plan your own route, run at your own pace, and still earn bling to celebrate your big accomplishment!

4- Some Patience and a Good Attitude

5k and marathon finishes are not made overnight. You don’t need to necessarily understand everything you are getting yourself into, you just need to be willing to put in the work, and slap on a smile. While I wouldn’t suggest waking up and deciding to run an ultrarace, waking up and deciding that today is the day you will run a lap around the block, or even a whole 5k is a perfectly attainable goal for most! That’s the name of the novice game: you commit, you believe you can, and then you just do it.

May your brain do the pacing, your legs do the running, and your heart do the pushing. Go get ‘em!!

About the Author

Emma Darbro
Emma is a junior from Plainfield and currently lives in 1501C. When she’s not writing like she’s running out of time for the Acronym, you can probably find her somewhere on access road doing some actual running and training for the Chicago Marathon! Besides that, she enjoys diving, traveling, eating Lucky Charms, TikToking, and texting with an excessive amount of extra letters at the end of every word:)

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