Week by week focus
Week 1: The key is to start slow. Pace is the lesson here. Too often we overexert, which causes us to immediately run out of energy and feel bad. It's important for beginners to go as slow as necessary to finish the prescribed distance.
For example, in the first week, you will alternate jogging for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds for a total of 20 minutes. Imagine -- 20 minutes! Eventually you will build speed during the training regimen, but in the first week, forget speed and concentrate on distance.
Week 2: Plan for one hour of training, but this includes time to change clothes, run/walk, stretch and change clothes again. The emphasis is to build a schedule to allow for your three training runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. It's important to have recovery days between training, particularly in the beginning. This week you will progress to alternating 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking.
Week 3: Form is the focus this week. Think about running tall with your body upright and leaning forward slightly from the ankle. Leaning too far forward keeps your legs from extending properly and puts undue pressure on your lower back. Stay relaxed and run loose. You will jog a little farther this week, but will have longer walking periods.
Week 4: You are well on your way to becoming a runner and adopting a healthy habit. Nothing is added this week; however, various time intervals will be introduced that alternate between jogging and walking. By this week you will be able to run for five minutes straight. This will fuel your confidence and boost your endurance.
Week 5: This might be the longest many of you have run at one time, and it's a stretch for both your body and your mind. But your body has been ramping up for these runs for the past four weeks, and it is prepared. The key is to believe your body is ready and committing to do it without excuse.
Week 6: This week is about recovery after each workout for both the muscles and the mind. The truth about training is that your muscles respond to stress, but only if you allow them adequate time to rest and rebuild. Overtraining will sabotage performance and can lead to injury or burnout. Be diligent about drinking water before, during and after your workout, stretch post-workout and then get off your feet.
Weeks 7, 8, 9 and 10: You're in the groove now and each week you'll see your stamina increase. You'll learn about the best ways to hydrate and the kind of nutrition that supports an active lifestyle, and you'll be running farther and walking less as you lead up to the 5K race. As a part of this training group, you'll also feel the support of fellow runners.
With an overview of the Genesis 5K program, it may be easier to imagine yourself a runner -- not born to be or even more special -- simply someone dedicated to a well-designed progressive running practice with a coach present to educate and to motivate.
Cindy Boggs, fitness presenter, author and YMCA Activate America director, has been an ACE-certified coordinator/instructor since 1989. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to her at YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 100 YMCA Drive, Charleston, WV 25311, or e-mail cindys...@aol.com. Look for her award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World," at www.cindysays.com, or contact the YMCA at 304-340-3527.