Running a 5K might seem like a daunting task, but with the right preparation, you can ace the race! Protima Tiwary speaks to Kaustubh Radkar, India’s Ironman Triathlete founder of Radstrong, and shares tips for beginners that will help them run their first 5K.
Running your first race can be an exciting and daunting experience. “Will I be able to complete the race?” “What speed should I run at?” “What if I get a muscle cramp?” “What if my shoes are not right?” What do I eat before the run?” “How much time will it take me to run the entire race?” are just some of the thoughts that might go through your head. Don’t worry, the nervousness is normal, and something that every seasoned athlete has gone through. But with the right tips and guidance, you’ll be able to conquer this race.
We spoke with Kaustubh Radkar, one of India’s elite swimmers and India’s Ironman Triathlete, and founder of Radstrong, a training academy that helps people take up running professionally by training them for races. Kaustubh Radkar finished his debut Ironman race in 11hr 41min in Arizona, the fastest debut ever for an Indian. After this, he went on to complete Ironman on all 6 continents by 2015. Radkar is the first and only Indian to be an Ironman Certified Coach (Oct 2015), his Tri team RadStrong Tri is the only Tri team from India to be accepted by Ironman. Based on his experience, Radkar wants to share knowledge with the industry and with everyone who enjoys running, which is why he trains amateurs as well as professional athletes.
Here are some tips that he shared for new runners, pointers that will help those who’re running their first 5K, ace the race!
On giving it time before running the first 5K
“If it is your first 5K, give yourself at least 3 months before you sign up for the first race. You have to understand (and remind yourself during the run) that it is okay to walk/ jog during your first race. Practice for the first race by running 3 days a week for 12 weeks, and by the end of it you will be fit enough for a 5K”
On complimenting cardio with weight-training
“I am of the firm belief that any cardio (running, cycling, swimming etc) should be complemented with weight training. It’s important to tone your muscles to combat age-related atrophy (muscle loss) and also to reduce the risk of injuries. So if you’re planning to run 3 days a week for 12 weeks, add 2 days of weight training to your routine. Weight training is important for any sport.”
On eating right before a run
“ While there is no ideal diet, I’d recommend you stay away from anything too spicy, oily or cheesy. Dal-rice, roti-sabzi are perfectly fine if they work for you!”
On getting the right running equipment
“You need to be comfortable when you’re running. Don’t wear new shoes- you’ll end up with blisters. Wear thick socks. Invest in comfortable clothing that makes your skin breathe and don’t slow you down (Dri-fits are a safe bet) A smartwatch is helpful too, and if you don’t want to make that investment you can always check out one of the smartphone apps that help you track your speed and distance.”
On maintaining speed during the run
“If it’s your first run, just focus on running and not on your time. Don’t worry about being fast or slow, you have to see what your body allows you to do. Once you have a couple of races under your belt, you can start focussing on timing. For the first race, forget about the time and speed just enjoy your run and see how your body responds.
5k is the beginning of a lifetime of running, so enjoy the process and make running a lifestyle.”
On keeping yourself motivated during the run
“When you’re running a race, you’re running in a group, the energy of which is enough to keep you going. The energy of a marathon is very different from solo runs- there are people to cheer you up, push you forward and motivate you.
Making a playlist also works, but I’m not a huge fan of listening to music while running. But if it works for you, go for it!”
Plan ahead, eat well, sleep well, and don’t forget to have fun! The feeling at the end of the race will be liberating, empowering, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself addicted to running! Prepping right is the key to a good run, and with these tips in mind, you’ll be fine.