be real

How To Complete a 5K

About two months ago, my friend asked me if I wanted to run a 5K to benefit a local organization that serves the homeless. photo 1

My first thought was, "wow, he must think I'm a pretty good runner" and my second thought was, "I could totally do that".

And so I said yes.

And then I forgot to run to make sure I could run a 5K. For those who don't know, a 5K is equal to 3.1 miles. I wasn't entirely sure I could run 3.1 miles. Saying yes made me commit to the idea that I could and would be able to do it.

Did you ever have that same experience? Where you weren't completely sure you can do something but something about agreeing to it makes it become more likely or possible?

So here's what happened, with my tips for how to complete a 5K:

1) make sure you can run/jog/walk somewhere close to 3.1 miles: 6 days before the race, I ran 2 miles with ease. The night before, despite feeling a little low, I ran another 2 miles without dying or hacking up a lung. I figured I was good to go.

2) set clear intentions: the morning of the race, I showed up and decided to do my best. It was the first time I was doing something like this. Do you get a rush from doing something new? I do. It sort of doesn't matter what happens because I figure, hell, at least I'm doing something new. Might as well enjoy it!

photo 2

3) be real about what YOU can do: the other guys on my team were all near 6' tall so they took off with their long legs striding well ahead of me. I decided, in that moment, that this experience wasn't about winning or even keeping up. It's about doing it, completing it, honoring my commitment to show up and do it the best I could.

4) take in the scenery: fueled by the energy of almost 1,000 other runners surrounding me, and people on the sidewalk, waving and clapping, made me smile. The weather was nice, my playlist was loud and fast-paced and I was happy bouncing along at my own pace.

photo 3

5) listen to your body: around the 2 mile mark I got a serious cramp in my side, which was interesting because I never cramp when I run. I slowed down. I noticed the people running around me. I felt grateful to be running, to have a body that has been through a lot in the past year but was running this race, anyway. The cramp passed and I sped up a little. More inclines came and I took them with ease. Something turned in my stomach and I almost started crying--it was so powerful! I realized I had run most of the way and I didn't need to stop. My legs and lungs felt stronger than ever. I realized that I was going to finish this thing and finish it strong.

6) give it all you've got: I sped up in the last leg, passing about 30 people on my right. I had no idea about my pace. It didn't matter. I saw the gate at the end, waiting for me. People were cheering, I pushed myself to a near-sprint across the finish line and notice my time is about 30 minutes. I said out loud, "good job!" and gasped for air.


this is me, gasping for air a the Finish line

I don't know how many more 5Ks are in my future, but it sure felt good to say "yes" and do it. My official time was 29:09, which is pretty darn good for someone who runs less than once a week.

I was left with the awesome possibility of what I could have done if I ran more often...

Share your stories of running or any time you tried something new or met a goal you set for yourself. I love inspiration!