Training for 5K Run with Richard Deenah

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Beginner to 5K training Plan
By Richard Deenah
It is very important to Set goals when starting an exercise program. These goals can make the difference between success and failure.
It’s a well known fact that starting up an exercise programme for the first time or trying to get back into an exercise routine after a prolonged break can be a difficult experience.
Many questions arise before the journey barely commences. How much weight should I lift? How many repetitions should I do? How far should I run? What pace should I run at? How much rest should I have between runs? How many days should I exercise? What should I eat? How much should I drink? If you have asked yourself any or all of these questions don’t worry, you are not alone!
The first thing that you should consider before starting any exercise programme is – do I feel healthy enough to commence this undertaking? If there’s even the slightest feeling of doubt, you should consult with a physician and get the go-ahead. Once medical clearance has been given it is best that you seek the guidance of qualified persons in the exercise field that you are embarking. If walking and or jogging is your exercise of choice, you will find that there are many running groups throughout the island and there’s a high likelihood that there is one near where you live or near your work. Joining a group of people with common exercise goals is an excellent way to get and stay motivated.
The next step is to pick one of the many running events — that are being held throughout the island – and begin a training programme that will prepare you for that event.
This training programme is geared towards the MoBay City Run, but it can be followed for any such events within your region. This training programme lasts six weeks and is aimed at getting you off your couch and to the finish line in one piece.
Please use the following programme only as a guide. This programme should be adapted to suit your work and home life and you can choose the days of the week that is most convenient for you to exercise.

Week 1:
Day 1: Run 5 minutes, walk 1 min – repeat 3 times
Day 2: Rest or cross-train
Day 3: Run 6 minutes, walk 1 min – repeat 3 times
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Run 7 minutes, walk 1 min – repeat 3 times
Day 6: Rest or cross-train
Day 7: Rest

Week 2:
Day 1: Run 7 minutes, walk 1 min – repeat 3 times
Day 2: Rest or cross-train
Day 3: Run 8 minutes, walk 1 min – repeat 3 times
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Run 9 minutes mile, walk 1 min – repeat 3 times
Day 6: Rest or cross-train
Day 7: Rest

Week 3:
Day 1: Run 10 minutes, walk 1 min – repeat 2 times
Day 2: Cross-train
Day 3: Run 12 minutes, walk 1 min – repeat 2 times
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Run 13 minutes, walk 1 min – repeat 2 times
Day 6: Rest or cross-train
Day 7: Rest

Week 4:
Day 1: Run 15 minutes, walk 1 min – repeat 2 times
Day 2: Cross-train
Day 3: Run 17 minutes, walk 1 min, run 7 min
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Run 19 minutes, walk 1 min, run 7 min
Day 6: Rest or cross-train
Day 7: Rest

Week 5:
Day 1: Run 20 minutes, walk 1 min, run 6 min
Day 2: Cross-train
Day 3: Run 24 minutes
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Run 26 minutes
Day 6: Rest or cross-train
Day 7: Rest

Week 6:
Day 1: Run 28 minutes
Day 2: Rest or cross-train
Day 3: Run 30 minutes
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Run 20 minutes
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Race! Run 3.1 miles

Next to training, eating can sometimes be the most challenging aspect of preparing for a 5K or 10K race.
Whilst starting a 5K or 10K training programme, your body requires optimal fuel to get you to the finish line and on the road to a permanent healthy lifestyle.
What you put into your body will determine what you get out of it. Your body is the most finely tuned machine ever created and providing it with the right fuel will ensure optimal performance. You wouldn’t put 87-octane into the gas tank of a Ferrari, so why would you put highly processed, refined, packaged foods into your body.

Optimal eating is required from the start of any training program up to and after the completion of your race. Eating a healthy, balanced diet every day will ensure that your body is fueled and ready for action on the big day. Eating a healthy diet for 6 to 8 weeks leading up to an event is important, as it allows your body to gradually adjust to your new healthy lifestyle. The last thing that you want to do is to eat something different right before an event as your body’s response to an unfamiliar food could adversely affect your performance on race day.

What should you eat:

Balanced, clean eating is the key to properly fueling your body whilst training for your 5K or 10K race. A balanced, nutrient-dense diet will replenish the vitamins and minerals lost during physical activities and encourage peak physical performance. Healthy carbohydrates, such as fruits and whole grains, fuel the body and delay fatigue. Lean protein sources, including fish, chicken and beans, are necessary for muscle recovery and growth. Avocados, nuts, seeds and olives are examples of foods with healthy fats.

By balanced, I am suggesting that your diet should be composed of an appropriate balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

As a guideline I suggest aiming for the following breakdown for your daily meals:
60-70 percent of calories from carbohydrates (ground provisions, grains, fruits, pasta, bread, etc.)
20-30 percent of calories from fat sources (avocados, ackee, nuts, oils, etc.)
10-15 percent of calories from protein (fish, meat, chicken, beans, etc.)

Eating clean suggests that your diet should have little or no foods that are processed. These are foods that have been chemically processed and made solely from refined ingredients and artificial substances.

Many Processed foods are loaded with sodium and trans fats, sugar and unwanted calories. They may provide an initial surge of energy, but you will quickly experience an energy crash after eating them. These foods affect your ability to train at you optimal level and ultimately hinder your performance on the big day.

Getting enough iron
Maintaining a healthy iron level is extremely important for both training and competing in the big event. Healthy iron levels will ensure that you can train and compete at your best by allowing your muscles to function at their optimal levels.. Having lower than normal iron levels (iron-deficiency anemia) may lead to increased fatigue (tiredness) and possibly dizziness because the blood in your body is not able to carry sufficient oxygen to the body’s many parts, especially your muscles. Women and teens in their childbearing years are particularly susceptible to iron-deficiency anemia because of the blood loss from menstruation.
Good iron status requires an emphasis on iron-rich food sources. To ensure optimal intake of iron, eat the following foods:
Beef or chicken liver; clams, mollusks or mussels, oysters, lean beef, canned sardines, turkey, fish (halibut, haddock, salmon or tuna)
Dark green leafy vegetables ( spinach, callaloo, mushrooms, asparagus, beans and peas)
Nuts (almonds, dry coconut, cashews, hazelnuts)
Fruits (Dates, prunes, raisins)

Don’t drink coffee or tea with every meal, particularly if you’re prone to anemia. Caffeine can interfere with iron absorption, particularly iron from plant sources.
Combine vegetarian and animal sources of iron.
Eat iron-rich foods with foods rich in vitamin C (i.e. guava, peppers, Kale, citrus fruits) to enhance absorption.

If you have a history of anemia; if you experience dizziness while exercising or when getting up from a seated or laying position, or if you get tired very quickly, it is recommended that you consult a physician and notify him or her of any of the previously mentioned conditions.


I would never advise anyone to attempt major weight loss during a 6 to 8 weeks pre-race training program. While it is normal for an individual — who is carrying some extra weight — to lose some weight during their training program; this weight loss will come from the extra calories that are burned off during training sessions but they should not occur from implementing substantial reduction in the amount of calories consumed.

Consuming the appropriate amount of calories – especially clean healthy calories—is extremely important to ensure that you are able to exert your maximum effort during your training sessions. Starving yourself or going on a highly reduced calorie diet during your training program can possibly lead to injury and prevent you from realizing your goals come race day.

It is also important to avoid overeating whilst training. Sometimes we overestimate the amount of energy that we expend while we train. We then think that we can reward ourselves with larger than usual meals for our efforts. This error in judgment can often leads to unwanted weight gain. Eat what you need, not what you want.

Below is a guideline to help the aspiring 5K or 10K runner to develop a healthy nutrition plan.
Firstly, take an inventory of your diet. Keep a one-week food diary and be brutally honest. Make a note of everything you eat and at what time you ate it. Your food diary will give you a very good idea of the things you need to keep and change about your eating habits.

Secondly, change foods. If you normally have a sweet dessert to finish your dinner, have fruit instead. Have fish instead of a burger; substitute white bread for whole grain or better yet, have ground provisions like sweet potato or yam instead; buy skimmed or soy instead of full fat milk.

Finally, plan your menu. At the start of each week plan your main meals. Taking an overview of the whole week will enable you to see if you are getting the proportions of protein, carbohydrate and fat right.


Studies have shown that the world’s top long distance runners lose fluids via perspiration faster than their bodies are able to absorb the fluids that they ingest. Most of us who are training for a 5K or 10K race might not be world-class distance runners, but we can all benefit from practicing proper hydration habits.

Proper hydration should take place long before any training session. Your hydration habits during training should not be altered on the day of competition. Consuming too much fluids — too close to your training session or competition — will leave you feeling waterlogged and sluggish. Your body is only able to absorb small amounts of fluids in a relatively short period of time; so drinking more fluids than your body can absorb will merely send you to the bathroom more often than you had planned for. You will find that taking frequent sips of fluids will substantially reduce your bathroom visits. It is important to keep in mind that when you start to feel thirsty, your body is already in the early stages of dehydration. Ideally, you want to replace your body’s fluids as soon as you have lost it.

So, now that we understand the importance of hydration, what’s the best source of hydration? Water is always the primary source in any hydration mixture, however, it should be noted that our body loses important electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, etc.) through perspiration during prolonged physical activities, unfortunately, water alone cannot replenish these electrolytes and a long distance runner who solely consumes water during a prolonged training session or competition runs the risk of exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH) – caused by an increase in total body water leading to a low concentration of sodium in the blood. The best way to avoid the risk of EAH is to sip on fluids –that have many of the electrolytes in them – before, during and after any prolonged physical activity. There are a number of sports drink currently on the market that contain electrolytes along with water, but none of which can compete with the hydrating properties of our very own natural coconut water. Natural coconut water contains many of the essential electrolytes that our body requires in order to perform at its optimal level, so drink up.


Marathoners who are competing on relatively hot days can lose up to 5% of their body weight – that’s 7 ½ pounds of body weight lost for a 150 lbs runner. Dehydration also adversely affects short distance sprint speeds – so if you’re planning on putting on an explosive burst of speed to impress all of your well wishers who are waiting for you at the finish line, you better stay hydrated throughout the race.

Do not miss a station. It is very important that during the big race, you take full advantage of each and every refueling station. Remember, replace what you have lost, so don’t drink too much, just take small sips. If hydration gels are provided, consume with caution. Many gels need to be consumed with 16 ounces of water, this might be more water than you can manage in a very short period. Some people also react differently to different gels, so if you are not familiar with the particular gels provided or if you have not been consuming them during your training sessions, you probably should not be consuming them during race day.


It is extremely important to replace lost fluids and electrolytes upon completion of any prolonged run. This will substantially reduce your risk of severe muscle stiffness and pain. Again, chugging back a couple jelly coconuts would be your best electrolyte replacing remedy, however, if you were not fortunate enough to have driven by the jelly man on the way to the big race, you can consume a sports drink or mix equal parts water with fruit juice and a pinch of salt.

Keep in mind that you have just put your muscles through some serious punishment and in order to aid in their recovery, you should also consume protein in a big way. Consuming a drink mixture that has three parts carbohydrates and one part protein is a great way to get your muscles on the road to recovery.

1. Coffee, tea
2. Energy drinks
3. Sports drinks, coconut
4. Alcohol
5. Water
6. Juice

1. Carb loading
2. Nutritional balance
3. Dieting
4. Eating time
5. Eating amount
6. Eating frequency

Pre training foods
Post training foods

Race against yourself not others

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