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I Ran a 5K: How I Went from Couch to 5K


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Training for my very first 5K: What I did, what I learned, and how it went.

At the start of 2019, I made a New Year’s resolution to run a 5K. I knew learning to run and becoming a runner at age 30 would be a challenge, so I signed up for a 5K at Walt Disney World to make the experience more fun and exciting!

I wanted to run a 5K, because I feel most alive when I’m challenging myself — when I get to experience the slow and steady hard work of being brand new at something and then getting better with practice.

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How I Went from “Couch to 5K”

  1. I started training as soon as I could. I started training for my November 2019 5K once the weather had warmed up in Wisconsin, around May. I started training just a couple of weeks before we traveled to Vancouver for vacation, and I quickly developed runner’s knee. (I had to ice my knee every night of our vacation!) I began by running 1 mile every day or every other day and getting comfortable with my 1-mile pace for about two weeks. Then, I incrementally added more distance. I also completed two local 5Ks as practice, prior to the November 5K, so I wouldn’t feel as nervous about the “big” 5K at Disney World.

  2. I realized running isn’t like anything else. Prior to training, I had attended hot yoga regularly and had biked often with Ben. I considered myself to be in relatively good shape, but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the total-body-pain of running. A big part of those first weeks of training was mental; I needed to realize I could run and I could build endurance if I stayed committed.

  3. I used a running app to keep track of my runs. My goal was to run a 5K in 30 minutes or less, so I used the Runkeeper app to track my runs and my progress. I had tried a few running apps, but my favorite feature of Runkeeper was the ability to send a link to Ben via text which showed him my location, my pace, and other details of my run. I felt safer knowing Ben could track me on my run. (Another feature you might like is the option to choose what type of audio encouragement you receive from the app. Mine reminded me I could eat donuts after my run, which I thought was cute!)

  4. I was mindful of my form and my shoes. I learned my form and my shoes matter a lot. I invested in these running shoes and focused a lot on making each run “comfortable” and “easy.” I also celebrated the small wins as often as I could.

  5. Eventually, I enjoyed running. Throughout the summer, running became a necessary and valued part of every day. Because I work from home, I loved being able to go outside, get fresh air, enjoy the sunshine, and move my body. Eventually, running became rejuvenating.

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In the end, I achieved my goal of running the 5K in 30 minutes… practically 30 minutes on the dot! I’m currently signed up for a 10K in 2022 (Postponed due to the pandemic) so I hope I can keep up the momentum!

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I'm Kelly Zugay — a Saint Paul, Minnesota-based small business owner, podcaster, and content creator.

By day, I am co-founder of With Grace and Gold and host of Brand It, Build It Podcast.

Here, since 2013, I've explored and shared about lifestyle, plant-based, vegan recipes, home building and decor, and travel — and I am truly so glad you're here!

About Kelly Zugay