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  • Writer's pictureCarlie Pipe

Zero to 5k

Updated: Nov 18, 2018

Ready to run your first 5K? Listen to the Zero to 5K podcast here or via apple podcasts:

Here Carlie and Coach Corey discuss how to plan for your first 5k.

Zero to 5 K

Carlie: Yes, welcome to Runnin Bout, I'm Carlie Pipe and I'm joined by Corey McClean he's the Run Coach at Cross Fit Bassa, Bassa, Revolution Running Certified Trainer. How do you like that intro?

Corey: Yeah, it's pretty good. And to my right this is the talented and lovely Carlie Pipe, she is arguably the number one distance runner in Barbados,

Carlie: I like how it's arguable because it's vague enough that it could be true but also not true.

Corey: It's true.

Carlie: So, today we are talking about Zero to 5 K, running programs. You've seen those wonderful runners all over the roads in the morning, drinking their kale smoothies, wearing their Adidas pants, which we are both doing today.

Corey: At the same time.

Carlie: Yeah, looking all cool, and it was unplanned, looking all cool and you just think like, how can I get started in running? Currently not doing it but want to get started. So, we've worked out a plan for you, well Corey has and I'm just going to throw some commentary in between. So, Corey's worked out a run plan for if you're on the zero to 5 K level, get your first 5 K. done. Do you remember when your first 5 K was?

Corey: The first 5 K was actually a 6 K.

Carlie: Oh, shoot. Let me guess, Fun Run.

Corey: Fun Run. My first race was Fun Run, I think it was 2011, so that's a hot minute ago. Back then, the only runs that we knew about, the only races that we knew about in Barbados was Fun Run and Run Barbados and that's it, like, we weren't aware of anything else so that's it. So, we started running, trained hard, our plan was to just get ready for Run Barbados which was it.

Carlie: This is you and Kal, right?

Corey: This is me and Kal.

Carlie: Yes.

Corey: We were going to get ready for run Barbados in December, so we were going to...

Carlie: Do the Fun Run in May.

Corey: Yeah, do all this training. Then we realized Fun Run and we decided yeah, we are going to go do this. We trained for this thing like, as far as we were concerned, this was like a marathon.

Carlie: What level were you coming into it? Were you at the zero level, or were you kind of active a little bit, but not really running, running?

Corey: Like basically, active but not training, so we didn't know how to train, to run, we didn't know anything, we literally didn't know anything. As far as we were concerned, we're just going to try to run a little further every week, run as fast as we could. That was it.

Carlie: Beautiful. And that's the plan that we have for you today, no just kidding.

Corey: No more, that is behind us now.

Carlie: So, how did the first 5 K, which was really a 6 K, go?

Corey: The first 5 K which is really a 6 K, it went well, as far as we were concerned. We didn't come last, we didn't die, and that was as much as we knew about how to run, how races went, that was it, we knew nothing, we had no baseline. And then, probably a couple of weeks later is when we actually hooked up with Ufukuzo, the running club for the first time. And then, we started seeing people actually training to run and running with the program and a plan, other than just running as fast as possible.

Carlie: Ok. So, that's actually a similar storyline to mine. My first 5 K there, I used to do the Fun Run a lot as a kid and stuff and I loved cross-country running at school. But in terms of my adult running, one of the first 5 Ks I signed up for was I.C.B.L. 5 K, which would have been 2010 or so, and it was the first year they did it. I came 3rd, so I was like hey actually, think I'm going to keep doing this a little bit because I got a little bling for that, and that's the addiction that went forth. But actually, I did one, it was the Joseph Payne Memorial 5 K and some members of what was Ufukuzo were there and they invited me to start coming out on the weekend long runs and stuff and that's what really sort of catapulted my demise.

Corey: And that's how we met.

Carlie: Yeah. So, that's our first 5 K I guess our introduction to the 5 K. But coming from a sedentary lifestyle, if I want to sign up for 5 K, how long should I give myself? If I'm saying today is the day I start training.

Corey: In the ideal world, I'd say plan for 12 weeks. Plan for 12 weeks, it gives you enough time to build up and not hurt yourself and you can actually see results over that period of time.

Carlie: So, what should my 5 K program kind of look like?

Corey: From basic, basic, basic, you just sit on the couch and watch Netflix and chill after work and that's about it, literally, you're going to try to run three times a week. Three times a week every other day so that leaves you with four rest days over the seven-day period. And your weekend run, whether Saturday or Sunday, whichever works best for you, I would make that one the longest one. And what we're going to do is we're literally going to start by leaving the house for 20 minutes and not coming back for 20 minutes, right?

Carlie: Ok, I love that. Even if I'm walking.

Corey: Especially walking.

Carlie: Even if I can't run for 20 minutes.

Corey: No, you don't have to run.

Carlie: But I'll run the first 100 meters and then I'll keep walking at least a little bit.

Corey: Ok so, what I like to do is actually set it as you're going to run for, be it one minute or two minutes, and we will adjust that over time. So say you run for a minute, walk for a minute, run for a minute, walk for a minute and you can set it down on your phone, you can set down your fit day or whatever and you can keep yourself accountable. The idea is you just go for a nice easy run, run for a minute, 60 seconds, then that 60-second beeper goes off, you walk, no matter how you feel, you walk for 60 seconds. At the end of 60 seconds, start running again and that sounds really simple and easy at first, but after a while that starts to hurt. Because what you're going to do is over 20 minutes, you're literally running for 10 minutes, walking for 10 minutes and that is how you're going to start. By the weekend you want to be doing your weekend run, probably say 25, 25 minutes.

Carlie: And what, I try to run a little bit longer?

Corey: Right, 25 minutes.

Carlie: Ok right. So, still do the one minute on, one minute off but I'm going for 25 minutes instead of 20.

Corey: Right. And what you're going to do over time is that you're going to try and adjust run portion to be longer. Your interval then for probably three weeks goes to two minutes. Couple more weeks you go to 3 minutes, couple more weeks you go to 4. By the time you're 6 minutes of continuous running with a one-minute walk then you can cut it down to 30 seconds. And then almost by the end of the program, you'll be running for say 10 minutes walking 30 seconds, run 10 minutes, walk 30 seconds.

Carlie: Cool. So, would my goal be at the end of this 12 weeks program, following that, would my goal be for the actual 5 K itself to run continuously throughout the whole 5 K?

Corey: Yeah, so it's going to be that you're minimizing your walking to like it's at 30 seconds per interval and by race day you should be able to run. Most people can do a 5 K between 30 to 40 minutes and this is people that aren't very active. 30, 40 minutes is basic, 50 minutes, in some instances probably say an hour. And you can do that over time in your race. And, what you could even do too is go into the race and do the same thing. You can run, walk, run, walk, run, walk, with your set intervals. People do that for full marathons that's where the run-walk method came from.

Carlie: It's comfort too, and what you're used to doing in training there's a level of comfort as well when you bring that into a race. And while that may sound easy this run walk minute on minute off kind of thing, that's actually a kind of workout that I would do as a very active person who does a lot of half marathons and that kind of long-distance running. Minute on minute off if I'm doing like as fast as possible kind of repeat is really hard but it is a good workout.

Corey: The thing is though people look at that and scoff at it, but you'll see...

Carlie: Thou shall not scoff at Coach Corey.

Corey: But seriously, look at the people doing marathons, training for marathons and they'll go into the race with the plan, and having done four or 5 months of training, they'll go into the marathon with the plan that they're going to run and then walk and run and walk and they'll do that for the entire 42 K marathon.

Carlie: 42 is a lot worse than 5 guys. Let me tell you, get the 5 in.

Corey: You wouldn't believe though that there are people who do the run walk for a marathon and finish almost an hour ahead of people who are running the whole time. Because it saves you and it allows your muscles to get a little bit of a reprieve.

Carlie: Let me tell you, training for a 5 K, if you haven't done any running, you're not an active person, training for your first 5 K is going to feel like you're training for a marathon, perhaps at first. It is so good.

Corey: It's good but...

Carlie: I promise you it's so good. Ok, so I should be, when I'm starting my program, I should be running about 4 days a week. I'll do my long run on a weekend and then 3 days during the week.

Corey: If you're now starting off, I'd say just 3 days. So, I won't go to the four days if you're just starting, 3 days is good. What you're trying to do is you're literally just trying to get your body accustomed to running. So, you're doing a couple of things, you're trying to strengthen your skeleton and your muscles at the same time as you build up over the distance. And the thing about it is when you're running your body is absorbing twice your body weight with every step. So, the force of twice your body weight per step and that is a lot of pressure on your body, so you have to build up over time, which is why it's such a long time. You build up over time, 12 weeks to just get accustomed to that part first. Also, you're teaching your body to use the oxygen, so you're building your physical strength in terms your muscles and your skeleton and then you're also working on your cardio state, so you're a real big beast. The idea is your body has to learn to use oxygen as its primary source of energy and that's where you're just trying to run, stay comfortable allow your body to metabolize the oxygen. You start going into that it hurts, it sucks, you are kind of in the area where your body now starts to shift from burning oxygen to trying to burn sugars and all that stuff. And then, you basically start creating like lactic and all that stuff that just kind of hurts.

Carlie: Yeah, but it's so good when you finish.

Corey: Yeah, it's good when you finish.

Carlie: You'll be like yes, I did it and I can just eat donuts now. I mean that's true isn't it, Coach Cory? Don't you advise?

Corey: Eating donuts at the end of a race?

Carlie: Recovering?

Corey: After race? Sure.

Carlie: I thought that was normal.

Corey: In all seriousness, if you are going to eat donuts and sugar and snickers and that kind of stuff, the best time to...

Carlie: Oh, like you just did? Just kidding guys. What happens off mic I shouldn't reveal...

Corey: That is chocolate. Chocolate is a food group.

Carlie: Yes, I agree with you, give me a high five.

Corey: Chocolate and coffee are food groups. So, the best time to eat any of that kind of stuff is immediately after you finish.

Carlie: Put back in all those carbs that you just...

Corey: Immediately after you finish training, your metabolism is still running, and it can burn at that point.

Carlie: Now I want to ask you about speed and harder efforts, so if I'm doing 3 ish sort of runs during that week. And I'm doing my minute on minute off for 2 minutes on minute off as I progress, am I running that 2 minutes or that minute or the running part of it, am I running that like as hard as I can or am I trying to maintain something comfortable that I know I can complete the entire workout?

Corey: You're just trying to run easy.

Carlie: Just keep moving.

Corey: Just be easy, try to breathe, that's it, that's your only job. Your job is to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Because when you're tense, you kind of like hold yourself in by posture or you clench up a bit, it makes it harder to breathe which makes you hate running even more. The more you tense up the more it hurts, the more you tense up the more likely you can develop a knot somewhere in your neck, your shoulder, whatever. Knots lead to injuries, and injuries are never fun.

Carlie: We don't want those guys. No lawsuits please. So, are you putting in speed workouts as well for people who are moving sort of from 0 to 5000 meters.

Corey: No, no, no.

Carlie: No sort of speed in there and that introductory cycle that's when you sign up for your 2nd 5 K and you know you want to beat that time, that 40 minutes. You'll be like I know I can do 39:59.

Corey: Right, so when you first start, your goal is literally to just keep moving, keep breathing, stay as relaxed as possible, just be walking, just keep running.

Carlie: And finish.

Corey: And just finish, your goal is just the finish and be relaxed.

Carlie: So, you don't kind of encourage people to set like a time goal for themselves for their first one, sneakily?

Corey: If you are just starting, no. Because what we want is that you will be able to see at the end of it, ok, this is what I did, this is how that felt, I can now train and better that.

Carlie: Yeah, and that's when you'll introduce the speed training. Now what about cross training? Like doing other sports to improve your fitness while you're training for your 5 K, necessary, not necessary?

Corey: It helps.

Carlie: Would you ask people to switch out of running to swimming or anything like that?

Corey: Not in your first one. I wouldn't switch a running day for, say swimming, in your first one. Your first one, you need the time on the road to get your body accustomed to the road. After you are passed that one, so 2nd and 3rd 5 K...

Carlie: You're a pro now.

Corey: You've been doing this. You've got a couple pieces of hardware.

Carlie: Yes, and they're all in your living room so that anyone who enters your home is immediately blinded. You have to position them so that when the sun comes through the window it's like ahhh.

Corey: Right next to the TV. So, you're talking about cross training, generally people consider strength work in gym, yoga, cycling, all that kind of stuff. No memory, the first thing that we're trying to do was to get your body stronger in terms your muscles and your skeleton. Strength training, fantastic, because this is when you start thinking about things like your kinetic chain.

Carlie: Where does that start and where does it finish?

Corey: Your kinetic chain...

Carlie: I told you all I would give useless comments, so what the heck is a kinetic chain?

Corey: When we talk about kinetic chain we're literally talking about your body as a whole, and its ability to transfer force from one end to the next.

Carlie: Right.

Corey: And for running, our goal is to be able to move forward. Whenever you land your 2 times body force into ground you want to be able to use that, you don't have to try to generate that force again to get off the ground.

Carlie: Right, so keep it moving. Go in for the momentum guys. Momentum, that's the scientific word.

Corey: And so that makes the running easier and not just running easier but makes you run faster with the same or less effort.

Carlie: Right.

Corey: So, how do you achieve that? One, you need to be able to transfer that force, meaning that your body needs to be as rigid as possible. Now you're going to say but Corey you said that you just want us to be as relaxed as possible, right? But when you're talking about rigidity, we're talking in terms of your core, not just your six pack. Not just your six pack, we're talking about your whole core, your trunk, your back, the whole core. Because as long as you stay braced that rate, then that allows the force to travel from your foot basically through to the top of your head and keep going forward.

Carlie: So, in terms of rigidity, you're also talking about being up straight while running and trying to keep your back straight, posture good.

Corey: So, posture, posture is a big deal. So, this is where the strength training comes in again to keep your body upright. Because as you get more tired, the natural thing to do is just slump over, look at the ground and say oh God somebody help.

Carlie: I have a lot of photos of me like that. It's towards the end of a race you just kind of ahhh.

Corey: Right, you just kind of slump and that makes it harder because now it makes it harder to breathe, it makes it harder to carry your body and what you're really trying to do is make your body strong enough to stay upright the time. Good posture, keeping your air way open and that is the goal of that. But then, on the other side, we're talking about doing things like yoga and cycling and all that.

Carlie: Yes, yeah.

Corey: Why I say do yoga or stretch is because a tension building up in your body results in knots and ultimately injuries so you trying to be as limber as possible, you want your muscles to be as pliable as possible and to help to alleviate the deep impact of the training because 12 weeks is a long time. And if you are training for a specific goal you should be stretching and form rolling and getting massages and all that stuff.

Carlie: Getting massages, yes.

Corey: Not a little Swedish massage. You should be getting deep tissue massages that hurt. You should feel like you went to war when you finish your massage.

Carlie: Oh man. Now, I want to ask you too, we're talking about the program being 12 weeks long and when we were off the mic earlier, we were talking about cycles, how it's actually more of three 4-week cycles, explain that to me again.

Corey: So, basic periodization, the idea is for 4 weeks you want of a period of build the recover. So, for me, how I like to do, and this is not your beginner program.

Carlie: Right.

Corey: How I like to do a 12 week is like you said, three 4-week cycles. And in those 4 weeks you’re going to cycle on, as in you're going to build up your distance and your volume over 3 weeks, and your forth week, you're going to cycle almost all the way back, about 60% of what you were doing.

Carlie: Ok, of the volume of which you were doing.

Corey: That you did in that third week. When you finish that week then you're going to start your cycle again probably just 20 percent higher.

Carlie: Right.

Corey: So, then you're going to cycle all the way up again for 3 weeks and a cycle off. So, when you end your second cycle, the distance that you were cycling off to, is basically the highest that you would have gone in the first cycle.

Carlie: Right.

Corey: And then your third week, you're going to do the same thing, cycle all the way up. This is now where you're going to hit your longest run, on your weekend.

Carlie: Your peak mileage.

Corey: Your peak mileage on your weekend run and then you're going to start a taper. For a 5 K, one-week taper plus race week, that's fine. If you're doing something like a half marathon you look at like a 2 or 3-week, taper marathon 3-week taper, same thing.

Carlie: So, it sounds too like this idea of cycles and periodization, as you so aptly called it, is something that is applicable to any distance race, whether it's a marathon, a half marathon, the 10 K, the 5 K, the 1500 meter, the 3000 meter, anything you guys want to sign up for. We love them all.

Corey: And the think is too like in any kind of training that you're doing, because I do cross fit.

Carlie: First rule of cross fit let everyone know.

Corey: Everyone must know you do cross fit. So, if you're doing cross fit or any gym training session, running, the idea is you want to allow your body time to adapt to the stimulus. So, you want to progressively load the stimulus and then cycle off to allow your body to adapt, to recover and then you reload again.

Carlie: Right, and you try to reload getting yourself to a higher level of whatever difficulty challenge.

Corey: Because that's the only way you're going to get stronger, so you have to be subjecting yourself to progressively more difficult loading or more difficult amount of mileage. Sounds lovely doesn't it? Subjecting yourself to these things.

Carlie: That's the only way you get stronger man, come on.

Corey: You're so right, I know.

Carlie: Strength, no weakness.

Corey: But it just feels good. Yeah, all strength, no weakness, oh my gosh. So, 12, weeks is your ideal but what's like the minimum you would like, for all the people who are like I want to start now but I see a race coming up and my friends are all talking me into it. What’s like the minimum you would say? If you're literally just watching Netflix and chilling, I mean eight weeks, it's not going to be perfect, it's not going to be amazing but eight weeks, sure. If you are super jock Jim bro.

Carlie: Just like Fluffy, our audio engineer who I didn't introduce earlier, but Fluffy is also in the room with us but Fluffy is not allowed to talk because Fluffy has to focus on the engineering.

Corey: On the knob and stuff.

Carlie: Look at that happy face, what a happy camper. So, if you're super jacked Jim bro or sis….

Corey: So, you're not sedentary, you are kind of fit, but you don't do much running, 6 weeks to 4 weeks maybe is enough to get your body accustomed to a bit of pounding because you already have the physical stamina. So, like I said, the posture and the ability to take the pounding on the road, you already have that stuff because you subject yourself to it. But at the same time, running is the only thing that can really train you for running, so you kind of need to be activity specific.

Carlie: Correct, so true.

Corey: I remember the first time I did a half marathon after I started cross fit, I hadn't run more than 14 K for a few months.

Carlie: For a little while. You're like this is a great idea.

Corey: I was like this is a great idea.

Carlie: And did you tell everybody that you coach? And all your running subjects?

Corey: Oh yeah, I tell them this is what not to do. So, not training for a half marathon but not having done close to half marathon distance in the last few months, I decided you know what I'm going to do a half marathon for Run Barbados.

Carlie: As one does, because runners are insane, and they do things like that.

Corey: Because it’s a half marathon, it's fun.

Carlie: Correct.

Corey: So, I go and I'm running this thing, I hit the half way point I'm feeling great. Running pretty good.

Carlie: Almost false pretenses?

Corey: Yeah, everything is going well, I'm running good, I'm feeling happy. And I get to 10 miles, remember half marathon is 13 miles. So, I get to ten miles.

Carlie: You've got 5 K to go now.

Corey: I get it to 10 miles, and the wheels fell off completely, it was my worst half marathon in my history of running. Why? Because I wasn't running. I was fit like my body felt great, my form didn't break at any point but at 10 miles my legs said buddy, buddy, what are you even doing? Just no. So, there was no more left in my legs, my body felt great, my legs were not having any of it.

Carlie: Do you hear that? No substitute for running not even the gym. A last quick question before we wrap up, so we've done our 12-week program, religiously. We followed everything Coach Corey has to say. A day of the first 5 K that you've signed up for let's figure it's an afternoon race most of the 5 Ks here are usually in the afternoon around 4 o'clock. What do I do on the day of the race, how do I prepare myself that day for what is to come?

Corey: Don't do anything that you haven't done in training.

Carlie: Don't eat some foods.

Corey: Don't go eat something that you did not eat at any point in the last 12 weeks.

Carlie: That's definitely a good one. And also, on that one I would say try not to eat like 4 hours before the race. For me, personally, I try not to eat four hours or so.

Corey: But that's personal because for me, I can't run hungry. No, seriously, so for me...

Carlie: How long?

Corey: Say two hours, I'm good.

Carlie: Serious? But like a meal or like a snack?

Corey: This will be like a big snack, not a full meal but a big snack. Because that is such a personal thing.

Carlie: Can you define the size of a big snack?

Corey: I mean, not a pack of nuts for sure but something that is not going to leave you feeling lethargic and heavy.

Carlie: Chicken Caesar salad kind of thing?

Corey: Yeah, that's ok, that's fine. See, you want something that a little bit of carbs but not too much fat that can weigh you down and all that. And it's 5 K, you won't die. What I'll say is, if you're going to running in the sun, drink a lot of water. And don't just drink the water on the day of the race. Don't think that we'll drink while you're on the road will help you at all because it won't. What you should be doing is you should be hydrating from two days before, drink a lot of water, more than usual leading up. Don't wear new shoes.

Carlie: Yes, that's a good one.

Corey: Don't wear new shoes on race day. Don't wear new shirts or shorts on race day. Anything that you're going to wear on race day should have been worn at least twice during your training.

Carlie: Correct and that you're comfortable in. The worst thing is new shoes.

Corey: New shoes on race day will totally leave you in a ditch.

Carlie: Yeah, don't do it, no new shoes. Old shoes only.

Corey: No new gear on race day. Oh, talking about old shoes, definitely yes, when you're about to start training, get new shoes.

Carlie: Yeah, yeah for sure and make sure they're comfortable. You know what, we'll talk about shoes and how you choose shoes a whole other time, but I think we should wrap up now. So, Corey I think we've got a great 12 week program sort of put in place for people who want to go from 0 to the 5000 meter race, the 5 K race and for those of you who are really excited to be doing your first 5 K, well I'm excited for you because obviously I'm a little bit into running.

Corey: A little bit.

Carlie: A little bit into it and I really hope to see all of you at a 5 K in the future. Come out let me see you at the start line, come on remember you know what your first one. Don't stress about it, you don't have to give yourself some kind of goal that you have to reach but just come out how fun finish, trust me, it feels so good.

Corey: And finish strong.

Carlie: That’s right finish strong that's us, we're out, it's Carlie, I'm done.

Corey: And Corey.

Carly: What is it called again? Runnin Bout.

Corey: Runnin Bout, man.

Running your first 5k
Will run for pizza

Ready to run your next 5K...faster? Listen to our Speedwork episode.

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