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It’s a 5K, not a marathon.

I’m sure you’ve seen those people driving in front of you with a 26.2 or 13.1 white sticker placed so proudly on their back bumper. That sticker means that one early morning they woke up, put on their running shoes, pinned a number to their chest and ran a ridiculous amount of miles.

Of course, a lot more planning and training went into it. Runners train for half and whole marathons for months, sometimes even years. The ability to run for more than 10 miles is a trained skill.

But for non-runners, the ability to run at all is a trained skill.

When I first began running, I never thought I’d be able to wake up early one morning and run any number of miles until I finally signed up for a 5K.

A five kilometer run is about 3.1 miles, which isn’t nearly as daunting as 26.2 miles, but you still get the race number and the free food afterward.

The best part about running a 5K is the fact that you can do it. Even if running is still new and not your favorite activity, 3.1 miles is doable for an average person.

I trained by running four days a week for nearly two months before I signing up for a 5K.

By the time I began the race, I had only been running for five months, which in runners’ years is basically nothing. I was still a beginner and not very concerned with my time, but I finished, and the feeling was incredible.

The first step is to find a race and sign up. Once you’ve signed up for the run, the goal becomes real. I stopped making excuses not to run and reminded myself of the finish line I’d be crossing in just a few short months.

The next step is the training. Based on your body size and running or athletic experience, a training plan is just a Google search away. It’s simple to determine and plan your runs for the next few months leading up to the big day.

Finally, it’s race day. Stretch out before the race, make sure your socks don’t slide down into your shoes, and don’t ever be too proud to stop at the water cup stations along the way of the race. Let your mind run with your feet every step of the way and, if you start to get weary, don’t forget it will be over soon.

Once you cross the finish line, grab a bottle of water and a bagel, and finally stand still, the time on the clock won’t even matter. When you run your first 5K, all that matters is that you finished. You succeeded.

Running a 5K is a good way to shake up your fitness plan. If you’re not an avid runner, a 5K is a reachable goal. Even if you haven’t completed a mile run since middle school gym class, I can promise you you’re not a lost cause. Jump right into it, have confidence in yourself and start running.

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